Codename Villanelle | book review

Codename Villanelle

Author: Luke Jennings
Series: Killing Eve, #1
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 219
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Original Publication Date: 2017
Genre(s): Adult fiction, Thriller

Oxana was going to die for the murders she committed, avenging her father. But a powerful organization known as the 12 spares her life, only to recruit her as one of their skilled assassins. Now called Villanelle, she hunts and kills the world’s richest and most powerful.

Eve works for MI5, until an influential politician is murdered on her watch. Now she’s been recruited, on the down low, to find the politician’s killer, the one who’s been assassinating powerful people all over the world. Eve knows the killer is female, highly skilled and dangerous, and most likely a sociopath.

It’s a game of cat and mouse, but it’s unclear which woman is the cat and which is the mouse.


My fiancé is obsessed with the BBC adaptation of Killing Eve. For her birthday, I decided to buy the books for her, as she’s been wanting them for a while. After reading all three books, she demanded I read them too, so she can discuss the ending with someone. I knew right away that the series is not usually something I’d enjoy, but because I love her and love books, I gave in.

Codename Villanelle is a quick thriller told in third-person POV. Predominately, the story flashes back and forth between Eve and Villanelle’s perspectives. We get a lot of backstory on Villanelle, and a little bit on Eve, but mostly the story is set in the present. Eve focuses on her job and holding together her marriage; Villanelle carries out hits while maintaining zero connections to or relationships with anyone.

This is a super short book, and one that’s easy to read. If you know nothing about the show, it’s a little hard to get into. I know quite a bit about the show and still found myself bored to tears until things started picking up. Though I’m interested to see the strange relationship form between Eve and Villanelle, there’s nothing to show for it in book 1, so don’t get your hopes up. This book basically just sets the groundwork. We get a feel for the main characters and plot, and that’s about it. I was pretty disappointed that all the side characters are totally personality-less and pointless. They all felt flat and included only because you can’t have a world with only two people in it. But yet it felt like Jennings only wanted to explore Eve and Villanelle, and everyone else was just in the way.

Jennings really drives home the fact that Villanelle is a psycopath. He fits it into the story over and over. And yet, it was a bit hard to believe. It’s said that Villanelle cannot form relationships, but she seems to like and care for her friend quite a bit, certainly more than just spending time with her to mimic her feelings and reactions. She also seems quite affectionate towards Lara in the end of the book, despite being so ready to kill her. I don’t know. It just seems like Villanelle has more to her than Jennings says or intends. We’ll see how that progresses in the next books, I guess.

Overall, this is a good book, and I’m sorry if I’ve made it seem like it isn’t. I do have my issues with it, and it definitely isn’t something I’d pick up of my own volition, but I liked it nonetheless. It’s quick, bloody, and fun, and I’m excited to see the dynamic between Eve and Villanelle develop in the next books. If you’re into spy thrillers, you’ll probably enjoy this book, though I have a feeling the Bond novels and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series probably outshines this one considerably.

My Rating

2 thoughts on “Codename Villanelle | book review

  1. I just love the tv show, especially the first season, and I’ve been wanting to read the books too! But I’ve heard the TV show is actually better than the books, and you seem to confirm that (from what you’re saying about the book, comparing to what I know of the show…)
    Guess I’ll see if I really bother with the books too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. my fiance says the show is WAY better. Personally I say don’t waste your time on the books, but again, I’m not super into the show, so it may make you appreciate the story more to read the books 🙂 Hope you enjoy!!

      Like

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