We Need To Talk About Kevin Paperback – 1 Mar 2005
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An awesomely smart, stylish and pitiless achievement. Franz Kafka wrote that a book should be the ice-pick that breaks open the frozen seas inside us, because the books that make us happy we could have written ourselves. With We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shriver has wielded Kafka's axe with devastating force (Independent)
Few novels leave you gasping at the final paragraph as if the breath had been knocked out from your body. Yet such is the impact of We Need to Talk About Kevin ... by American writer Lionel Shriver. It is a provocative, hard-hitting book that carries an extremely powerful charge, but which is certain to polarize its readers (Book News)
In crisply crafted sentences that cut to the bone of her feelings about motherhood, career, family, and what it is about American culture that produces child killers, Shriver yanks the reader back and forth between blame and empathy, retribution and forgiveness. Never letting up on the tension, Shriver ensures that, like Eva, the reader grapples with unhealed wounds (Deborah Donovan Booklist)
...Shriver's fascinating, painful meditation on motherhood-as-regret (Time Out New York)
We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a treatise on crime prevention but a meditation on motherhood, and a terribly honest at that (Wall Street Journal)
Just as Eva wrestles with her own conscience, we as readers must grapple with our simultaneous revulsion and attraction to such crimes. There are no answers here, no pat explanations. Shriver doesn't take an easy way out by blaming the parents. Instead, the novel holds a mirror up to a whole culture. Who, in the end, needs to talk about Kevin? Maybe we all do (Boston Globe)
Shriver has skilfully hit the bulls-eye on two best-selling targets in the American market: the fear of rampage killings by teenagers at school, and the guilt of working mothers... The novel explores but gives no simplistic solutions to the horrors of copycat killings, the choices before women combining careers with rearing children, or whether evil can be innate (TLS)
My beach novel of choice is Lionel Shriver's book We Need to Talk About Kevin - a tense account of a mother who gives birth to a child she unapologetically dislikes from the start, and who grows up to be a teenage mass murderer - although the book serves only to reinforce what I already knew: that it is unreasonable, not to say unnatural, for adults to be expected to like all children just because they are small (Judy Rumbold Guardian)
A superb book, challenging and thought-provoking, with a shocking twist at the end and degree of redemption that leaves you literally stunned (New Books Mag)
One of the most striking works of fiction to be published this year. It is Desperate Housewives as written by Euripides... A powerful, gripping and original meditation on evil (New Statesman 2005-06-06)
A great read with horrifying twists and turns (Marie Claire)
Shriver's graceful and detailed prose is reminiscent of Don DeLillo, while the story is perversely gripping (Morning Star (New Zealand))
A chilling yet compulsive book that'll keep you hooked until the very end (Yorkshire Post)
This powerful novel uncovers the disturbing truth behind a mass killing at an American high school... There are true, terrible things said here about family life that most of us would leave unspoken (Saga Magazine)
Shriver's novel is a timely one... Nature or nurture? Shriver leaves it to the reader to decide in this powerful cautionary tale (Belfast Telegraph)
This book deservedly won this year's Orange Prize. It has the page-turning compulsion of a thriller and the fascination of a psychological study. But its main strength lies in its ordinariness. Far from feeling that nothing like this could happen to families like ours, the author makes it all entriely believable and possible. There but for the grace of God we could all be harbouring a Kevin (YoungMinds Magazine)
A macabre thriller, with a heart-stopping, heartbreaking ending, Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin is an entrancingly written novel that understandably won the 2005 Orange prize for fiction (Disability Now)
...taps into unspoken fears of maternal ambivalence that are not easily acknowledged and do not fit neatly into glossy magazine notions of female empowerment (Guardian Unlimited)
Hugely engrossing (Diva)
Powerful novel...shocking and insightful (Sunday Tribune (Ireland))
This startling shocker strips bare motherhood... the most remarkable Orange prize victor so far (Polly Toynbee Guardian Weekly)
A study of childhood psychosis that should come with a health warning (Guardian)
Most wanted (Alison Steadman Sunday Express)
Pitch-perfect, devastating and utterly convincing (Geoff Dyer)
At a time when fiction by women has been criticized for its dull domesticity, here us a fierce challenge of a novel by a woman that forces the reader to confront assumptions about love and parenting, about how and why we apportion blame, about crime and punishment, forgiveness and redemption and, perhaps most significantly, about how we can manage when the answer to the question why? is either too complex for human comprehension, or simply non-existent (Independent)
It is a book about the dangerous distance that exists between what we feel and what we are actually prepared to admit when it comes to family life. (...) It is a book about what we need to talk about, but can't. (...) Shriver's satire on child-centered families captained by adult buffoons whose intellectual, not to mention erotic, life is in pieces, could not be more timely. Motherhood, even in our liberated world, is still a process of requisition, of appropriation that feels more painful perhaps because there is more to appropriate (Guardian Weekend)
Harrowing, tense and thought-provoking, this is a vocal challenge to every accepted parenting manual you've ever read (Andrew Morrod Daily Mail)
'[An] intelligent ending and such important themes' (Independent on Sunday 2005-03-20)
Highly original and beautifully crafted novel (Good Book Guide)
[A] powerful, painful novel... The ending Shriver chooses will shock many readers in these policitcally correct times that take for granted the innocence of children and the corrupting culpability of adults. There are true, terrible things said here about family life that most of us would leave unspoken (Saga Magazine)
I think it is one of the bravest books I've ever read... We Need to Talk About Kevin is an original, powerful, resonant, witty, fascinating and deeply intelligent work (Sunday Business Post (Ireland))
A shocking, sometimes funny and unputdownable novel (Sunday Business Post (Ireland))
Shriver's surprise bestseller has been hailed for exploding unspoken taboos, such as non-maternal feelings towards "nine-month freeloaders". More interestingly, she exposes the pantomime of family life in which kids are just a desirable consumer product (Guardian 2005-03-12)
Lionel Shriver grabbed the Orange Prize, a raft of headlines and a well-merited name for taboo-busting provocation in her fictional bad mother's handbook (Boyd Tonkin Independent)
Compelling account of parental feelings in extremis (Nicholas Clee New Statesman)
Exclusive author interview with Paul Blezard.
'Elegant investigation...with a brilliant denouement' Observer --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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The complete lack of any attempt to form a stable relationship with Kevin, taking umbridge with him from the point of his refusal to breastfeed. Attitudes from the mother surely had a hand in the way he grew up (although the way his father was clearly worked out no better in the end).
Why he did what he did!?!?! The "accountability" aspect that bothered him so much makes me think that he selected one person to represent each different type of person and held them accountable for the entire type of people that he had issues with.
His quick turn around from one Saturday, clearly not caring about what or why he did it to the next visit (close to his 18th birthday) suddenly appearing as though he actually had remorse over the event seemed a bit too sudden for me.
It's a massive slow starter; the first third is a complete waste of time.
It's far too long; easily an entire quarter could be edited out.
And the writing style is disgraceful; the sentence structures are all over the place, and way too long... I felt like I needed a thesaurus at hand at all times to decipher two to three words per sentence. I found myself having to reread entire paragraphs as i just drowned in the weight of them. AND what the hell is with all the Italics??!
Needless to say, this book sent me to sleep on more than one occasion.
What else? Eva is painfully self-centered, Franklin portrayed a complete wuss and Kevin, nothing more than an overly annoying teenager whom was allowed to run riot so many times, that by the time the events of Thursday were finally revealled, nothing was a surprise.
A thought provoking story which left me wanting to know more about psychopathy and the nature/nurture debate. The book is ten times as good as the film!
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