[Book Review] We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

we need to talk about Kevin.jpgWe Need To Talk About Kevin is on the surface a gut-wrenching story about Kevin who kills 9 people in a school shooting. On a deeper level, the novel is about a mother’s love and if a mother’s love can influence a person’s upbringing.

I went into reading this novel with my eyes open, I knew it was going to be a tough read, but even as I finished the novel, the novel continued to display it’s perplexities and harshness.

The novel follows a sequence of letters from Eva to her husband Franklin as she recounts Kevin’s childhood to the present. The novel is a mammoth tale, starting from how it all began, from Eva’s and Kevin’s shaky start as he is born, to moments throughout his childhood that leave the reader questioning.

This novel for me left me feeling that it was perhaps a little too real. The novel is psychologically stimulating, as we question with Eva whether Kevin could have done that, or if Eva had been a different kind of mother would Kevin had still continued on the path he chose. The novel is interesting in the way it makes you question everything, Eva is always so certain of the things that Kevin has done, and despite not ever mentioning Kevin’s mental health, it does leave you questioning. Kevin is distant, he dissociates, and from Eva’s retellings comes across as if everything is an act.

But, how much of this is Eva? We rely on Eva to tell Kevin’s story, and how do we, as the reader, know that we are not being influenced by Eva’s experiences?

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. I found myself questioning everything at every turn, wondering if Kevin had done what Eva thought. Lionel Shriver has written a poignant story of a mother’s love, and how far would a mother go for her child, and questions a person’s reaction and how they place blame on others.

It is definitely a book I would recommend, and one that I will perhaps read more than once, as I’m sure throughout my reading, I have potentially missed quite a lot of nuances that are waiting to be picked up.

Have you read We Need To Talk About Kevin? Let me know in the comments!

[Book Review] House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

house of leaves

House of Leaves is interesting. It essentially follows three narratives. One , the subject of the novel (per say) which is The Navidson Record and it’s house on Ashe Tree Lane. Two, Zampano, as the author of the the writing. Three, Johnny Truant and his stories and his time assembling the notes left by Zampano.

The amount of layering in this novel is actually quite incredible to me. The novel is definitely not easy. The main body of text is sometimes all over the place, leaving an eerie and haunting feeling. The footnotes are extensive, sometimes making you follow two narratives at the same time.

But, the effort is definitely worth it in the end.

At the heart of the tale, House of Leaves is a love story. There’s Navy and Karen, Johnny and Thumper, but it is also one that is scary. The house on Ash Tree Lane provides us with many creepy instances, brought along by the skill of the author and the text placement, at times leaving you feeling claustrophobic.

Despite taking me a long time to get through House of Leaves, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and found in the instances I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down (despite the heavy weight of the novel!). I would definitely recommend it purely based on the interesting structure of the novel.

From reading upside down to back to front, House of Leaves left me waiting to see what twists and turns followed on the next page. I loved it! Have you read House of Leaves? Let me know what you thought!

 

House of Leaves was one of our book club books for October. You can find my partial review of the novel here

[Book Club] January Suggestions!

January signifies the start of the New Year. It is the chance to explore something new.

Do you have a new release you’re dying to read? Is there a book you’ve always wanted to dig into but never had the chance?

Leave your suggestion in a comment and it could be the book we’re reading in January.

I think we’ll go themeless this month and see where the tide takes us. Does that sound good with everyone?

[Book Club] Third Week!

We’re officially into the third week of reading! How’s everyone been enjoying so far?

I’ve actually managed to sit down and finish reading my chosen book, and the discussion is written and waiting to be published.

The third week is always an exciting week for me. Have there been any prominent twists in your story? What’s the ghosts of its past?

Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments! If you haven’t started yet, not to worry, you can find our list of books for this month from here!

 

P.S. Please excuse any and all mistakes, the cat is sitting on my lap making typing extremely difficult currently…

[Book Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a well reviewed and well received novel already. First published in 1985, Atwood’s novel has continued to be at the forefront of fiction and feminism since it’s release.

The novel has gained a new interest with the release of the television series with the same name, and it’s readership and understanding continues to grow.

I am one of the readers who’d heard so much about the novel, but had never sat down to read it. I saw the television series and wanted to read it, and I have now finally managed to complete it.

The Handmaid’s Tale was everything I thought it was going to be. The narrative of the story is interesting, it’s written as if the narrator is talking to you through the story. She guides you through the story with an eloquence one can only achieve through the subconscious.

I personally enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, it brought up a lot to think about. The tale talks of love, loss, grief, rebellion and many others. The novel is open-ended and doesn’t really draw to any conclusion and only briefly mentions how things came to be the way they were. For me, this was both a positive and a negative, as I so badly wanted to know how this dystopian future even came about, but it also made it feel real. The narrator spoke to you as if you knew how these events happened, and maybe how they ended.

That was both infuriating (in an I really need to know kind of way), and pleasant.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The writing flowed well, and talked about some really interesting things that relate scarily to what is happening in our modern times, despite being over thirty years old, and in a dystopian setting.

Would I recommend the book? Yes. Definitely. It would be interesting to discuss with people what they thought of the novel, and what they thought as I know that opinions on this novel vary greatly.

[Halfway Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’m officially now over half way through the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and so far I’m finding the book really intriguing.

At first I was reading and comparing the book to the TV series that was released last year, but once I’ve gotten past the similarities and differences, I’m finding I’m enjoying a lot a more.

Margaret Atwood has a rather unusual style of writing, which is seen in this novel, in particular with the sections where characters are talking, but there is no markings in the writing to indicate that they are talking. This is interesting to me, as from a narratological perspective, and the idea of the narrator being a storyteller, it plays more with the sense of the subconscious speech. It’s people speaking, but they are speaking through her.

So far it’s rather interesting!

Have you read the Handmaid’s Tale? What’s your views on the first half of the novel?

 

Don’t forget you can vote in our poll for next month! Currently, Practical Magic is winning with two votes! You can find the poll here.