I started this book a while ago. Then I got pregnant and I put it down. It’s been almost a year since having my first son and I only just felt emotionally safe enough to read it. I think probably most adults faced with the imminent prospect of children think, however fleetingly, about what to do if their child is just…. bad. I didn’t want those thoughts in my head as I grew and got to know my baby son, so I waited to pick this book back up again.
Luckily I did not need to fear this book. While it is truly a masterpiece, my one complaint is that the character of Kevin didn’t really feel like a real person to me. To come out so immediately calculating and manipulative is just not something that any baby is capable of. It’s an observation fueled probably by all the other books I’ve read lately about infant brain development due to having just had my own child. But Kevin was so immediately unrelenting in his deliberate pursuit of being his mother’s worst nightmare that it made his character lack believability and dimension.
It’s this that also made Kevin’s behavior in the final chapters suspicious to me. To be what he was portrayed to have been straight out of the womb when his brain was only partially developed can only mean that it was supposed to be his nature. And then to suddenly behave in ways contrary to his nature, despite whatever he was experiencing at Claverack, just rings false. Because of this I probably was much less emotionally impacted than I could have been.
That is where my complaints end however. Lionel Shriver is absolutely brilliant in her use of language and her bravery in exploring areas of the human psyche (primarily Eva)that are a little scary, and that we all keep to ourselves is something I really appreciate. The pacing of the story was perfect, and I was unable to put it down. Between this book and “The Post Birthday World” she is a writer whose new work I will be gobbling up as soon as I can get my hands on it. I can’t wait until her next release.