Book Reviews NaBloPoMo

Book Review: We need to talk about Kevin

This week’s challenge on BlogThis is as follows:

Tell us about your most memorable or favourite book you’ve read this year so far. Why? Would you recommend it? Was there one that you just can’t finish or even find? Or you can tell us about the book you’ve been wanting to read but haven’t got around to it…Or is it magazine or newspaper you’ve discovered this year? Tell us about it!

This is one challenge that is going to be hard despite the fact that it interests me no end. And that’s because I love books. Over the last couple of years, in particular, I have been reading a lot more (having finished uni and all…)

In this past year, I’ve read a number of books — The Time Traveller’s Wife, The God of Small Things, A Suitable Boy, A Fraction of the whole, The White Tiger, Handle With Care among others. I enjoyed some while disliked others.

But one book stood out for me this year. Even though I read it sometime in February, I can still remember it.

The book is: We need to talk about Kevin

It is about a high-school massacre. Committed by Kevin, a 15-year-old boy. I’m sure it sounds familiar. Except, it’s not the same old story. The book is written in the form of letters from a wife (Eva) to her absent husband. Their son, Kevin, is in jail for killing 7 classmates, a teacher and a canteen worker. Eva is writing the letters as a form of catharsis…and to try and figure out what went wrong. It’s her point of view right from the time of Kevin’s birth till the shooting.Β  Kevin was never bullied at school, unlike most high-school shooting stories. Nor was he jilted by a girl.

It makes you question a number of things:

Was it because Eva never wanted to have Kevin in the first place?

Or was he just born evil?

Or did he manage to learn how to be so evil?

Or was it all just to get Eva’s attention?

Is every woman cut out to be a mother? Maybe some of us just don’t have it in us…

It makes you question what is required of parents…

It makes you wonder whether Eva’s point of view is in fact, the actual truth…

It makes you think about the nature v/s nurture debate…and question which one it could be

Kevin is a dark and unlikeable character for most parts. I was, however, able to empathise with Eva despite not having children of my own. Maybe that’s because I could understand what it could be like to be forced into having a child when you don’t want one. And I still haven’t been able to make up my mind on nature v/s nurture though personally, I’m leaning towards the theory that he was born evil.

The book leaves you with an empty feeling. A void inside.

But it is well written and gripping. But, I would still caution others to be prepared for a somewhat depressing, yet enthralling read.

My rating for this book:

Until next time,


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  • Quixotic
    28 November 2009 at 5:17 am

    Have been meaning to read We Need to Talk About Kevin for ages. Loved Jodi Picoult’s take on this subject in 19 Minutes – yuo actually empathise with the shooter.
    Also loved the God of Small Things and Handle With Care.

  • Nu
    28 November 2009 at 5:23 am

    I wud wanna read it. Will get my copy :)BTW hows Amitav Ghosh’s going on ?

  • Ravan
    28 November 2009 at 5:57 am

    nce…will grab d book soon…and all the best for ur competition…:D

  • PNA
    28 November 2009 at 6:53 am

    I’ve just borrowed ur title n subject of ur post…. :))

  • G
    28 November 2009 at 9:38 am

    Hmm. On similar lines of Jodi Picoults’ Nineteen Minutes, right?
    The introvert son, goes on a bullet firing spree in school.

  • Psych Babbler
    28 November 2009 at 11:14 am

    @ Quixotic: Jodi Picoult’s take on 19 minutes is completely different from this one. At least in 19 mins you do empathise with the young boy…but in this…you just can’t. I must say, I didn’t particularly enjoy God of Small things but loved Handle with Care. I tend to like almost all of Jodi Picoult’s work. πŸ™‚

    @ Nu: Aw…you are not first unfortunately. Finished Amitav Ghosh today…not a bad read but not so great either. Keeps you interested though…

    @ Ravan: Do let me know your take on the books…and thanks πŸ™‚

    @ PnA: Go for it! πŸ™‚

    @ G: Not really. In 19 minutes, the boy is bullied no end and you definitely empathise with him and can definitely understand why he goes on the shooting spree. Here, Kevin is pretty much a psychopath.

  • PNA
    28 November 2009 at 11:49 am

    Which Amitav Ghosh did u finish. I loved his Calcutta Chromose…

  • MilesPerHour
    28 November 2009 at 12:38 pm

    You got it. I posted mine today.

  • Nu
    28 November 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Hey that’s nice look !

  • Titaxy
    28 November 2009 at 11:10 pm

    i’m so loving coming back to reading all these posts about books on some of my fav blogs, thanks to you πŸ™‚

    this sounds interesting…i haven’t read it, maybe will pick it up soon…i so need to make a list of all the books i wanna read, otherwise when i go to the store or order online, i tend to forget the ones i’ve had in mind for days and just order whatever pops up to mind then..anyway…thanks!

  • Smita
    29 November 2009 at 7:27 am

    This book sounds interesting!!!

  • G
    29 November 2009 at 8:02 am

    Havent read it (19 minutes), next in line. πŸ™‚
    Was i first? Or was it your comment problem again?

  • Psych Babbler
    29 November 2009 at 10:30 am

    @ Nu: Thanks! πŸ™‚

    @ MPH: Ooh…will check out yours!

    @ Titaxy: So glad you’re back! You’re right in the need to take down the names of books….there’s so many that by the time I’m at the bookstore, I actually forget most of them!

    @ PNA: I just finished The Hungry Tide. That’s the only Amitav Ghosh book I’ve read so far. Will keep an eye out for his books.

    @ Smita: It is although it is a bit depressing. Would love your take on it!

    @ G: Ah ok. Nah you weren’t first unfortuantely…the comments are still acting up. Sigh. The timestamps are the best indicator.

  • indianhomemaker
    29 November 2009 at 11:58 am

    I do think some people are born evil. Children born in the same environment, raised by similar parents, going though similar trauma and joys and challenges etc don’t all turn out the same. I wish it possible to raise every body to be good, purely by providing a suitable environment but I feel it isn’t.
    Dangerous, cruel, anti social people are not always (though they often are) victims of abuse. We see some people taking pride in little displays of power, some won’t think twice before causing pain- mental, or physical, some are naturally violent. I feel such cases have some emotional problem, and it may not always be curable.
    A Suitable Boy is a book I really enjoyed and loved.

  • Aditya
    1 December 2009 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for the recommendation. My last book was “2 states” by chetan Bhagat. It was just ok. A one time read maximum:)

  • Psych Babbler
    1 December 2009 at 9:59 am

    @ IHM: Ah someone else who agrees that people can be born evil/mean/antisocial. I had an argument with a friend a long time ago about how it was wrong for me to have such a belief since I was aiming to work in a field to ‘change’ people. But like I say, not everyone can or wants to change…and with some of them…it’s because they were born that way. Oh…and I didn’t actually like A Suitable Boy…it showed so much promise but disappointed me in the end.

    @ Aditya: Hmm…been hearing a lot about the book but haven’t read a single book of Chetan Bhagat’s.

  • Madmother
    2 December 2009 at 10:42 am

    I agree. Have witnessed exactly what you speak of.

    Don’t think I could read either book on this subject, too close to my greatest fear.

  • eternallymine
    3 December 2009 at 11:36 am

    Oh Wow! I LOOOOVED this book!!! I read it on my honeymoon (NOT very good honeymoon reading, I assure you!) and I just couldn’t put it down, I still think about it all the time.. what a great book!

  • ani_aset
    19 December 2009 at 6:15 am

    i generally dont like reading reviews but this one was special..the kind of view you have on such matters is what i like to read.

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