Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review -- "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

 2 out of 5 Stars

*** Warning -- Mild Spoilers ***

There was quite a lot to dislike about this book.

The subject matter alone is disturbing enough -- a child is seemingly "born bad" and goes on to commit a horrific crime, a crime he planned out painstakingly and shows no remorse for.

That alone would make this a sobering read, but the mother is the most despicable character I've ever met, and I had far less sympathy for her than I did for the boy born bad.

Eva is a business-woman, a woman who built a highly successful travel book business, and she relishes the time she spends out of country.  Throughout the book, she has very little, if anything good, to say about America.  She also has a distasteful habit of spouting off her problems with America -- "fat people" (I got sick of her talking about that) and SUV's, among other things. 

Eva did not want her first child at ALL.  Her husband talked her into it, and Eva begrudges the entire pregnancy, feeling like her life was taken over and her life itself is over.  When Kevin is born, she completely fails to bond with him, and her son doesn't bond at all with her.  Reading about Kevin's childhood is painful.  He is a nasty little boy, but his mother is equally nasty to him.  Her husband, on the other hand, completely doesn't see it.  Without much surprise, the story doesn't end well.  It ends horrifically, but sadly, predictably.

I wonder -- is it true that a child can be born bad?  Did Eva's complete distaste at being pregnant make her son bad?  Was the lack of mother/father unity the culprit?  Who knows.  But it was awful.

While the story matter was horrid, I didn't give this book more than two stars for another reason -- way, WAY too many words that had to be looked up.  I'm not a stupid person, but it's jarring to try to read a book that uses words like "quotidian", "puling", "perfidy","ocherous", "aphorism", "comestibles" --- my Nook dictionary couldn't find some of them.   It just made Eva that much more unlikeable.  I can't imagine trying to socialize with her.

The book is worth a read if you're prepared for the wordiness and the shock value.  But don't expect a single character you can warm up to.

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Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.

1 comment:

  1. I saw on Facebook, Lori, that you were reading this book, but I hadn't had a chance to come here yet to check out what you thought. I had the same thoughts. I hated that woman and I thought she deserved a rotten kid. I could hardly get through the book because I just didn't care. And yes, the words. I was an English major and consider myself to have a larger vocabulary than the average person, but I struggled. I can't imagine being someone who doesn't read a lot or whose parents didn't say "look it up" when the definition of a word was asked, trying to read this book. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.


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