Mystery/Thriller, Series

Review: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings – Killing Eve #1

The book that inspired the hit TV show Killing Eve featuring an assassin and an obsessive detective.


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I was drawn to this novel because of the hit new TV show Killing Eve. I saw a trailer for the show ages ago and immediately knew I wanted to watch it – it looked so cool and featured some very strong female actresses! Now … I still haven’t gotten around to watching it because … life is busy and my TV binge list is just as long as my TBR list. But I decided to do the next best thing – I read the book that inspired the creation of the show!

Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve, #1) book cover

Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve, #1)

by Luke Jennings

Published June 31, 2017 by New York Graphic Society
Series: Killing Eve
ISBN: 0316512524

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world’s most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world’s richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail.
Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission.
The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed.

My Review

So …. I finished reading it. And while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t go crazy over it.

The Pros: What worked for me

  • The concept behind the story was really cool. I mean, how often do you read about psychopaths? And the entire cat-and-mouse game between Villanelle and Eve is just so enticing of an idea! Reading about 2 formidable females going against each other is the perfect scenario for me!
  • The way the author described events was amazing! It was violent, with the cold and apathetic process you would expect from a killer of Villanelle’s caliber.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • If I’m honest with myself, I was quite disappointed with Villanelle’s character. Maybe I read too many messed-up books but I could name quite a few psychopathic characters that were a lot better than her! The only thing that stood out for me about Villanelle was the way the author always used cat-like descriptions of her … and frankly, that only served to make me feel uncomfortable. I wanted to see examples of Villanelle’s intelligence and cunning; instead, I just got a bland character who liked to mindlessly kill everyone.
  • I actually found the story itself to be uninteresting. It reminded me a lot of Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews by Jason Matthews (which was published back in 2013) – apart from the main characters being female. The tension and intrigue that I was hoping for just wasn’t there. 

Overall, this novel came off as a bit generic and didn’t really excite me too much. I will be watching the TV show soon, however, so hopefully I will enjoy that more. For now, this book gets 2/5 stars from me.

Have any of you read this book? Who has watched the show Killing Eve? Is there a difference between the two? I would love to know so share your thoughts in the comments section!

2 thoughts on “Review: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings – Killing Eve #1

  1. The book was a let down for me as well, its sequel too that just came out, very generic and the villain lead wasn’t a compelling character at all. It felt like the author name-dropped brands too often too, and the writing wasn’t particularly original or poetic. Now, it’s completely different on the show – Villainelle is actually multilayered, not the typical “femme fatale”, she is both funny and playful, you would root for her, and of course Eve played by Sandra Oh is just amazing, amazing performance that earned her a Emmy nom and a Golden Globe win. Eve and Villanelle relationship on the show is fascinating and fresh, you should really give it a try. Muuuuch better,also written by a woman and it shows 😉

    1. Oh wow, I didn’t even know there was a sequel to this, but reading your remarks, it seems like the sequel is even worse than this book! I think I’m going to give it a pass and I’ll just binge-watch the show instead! Thanks for the advice and for stopping by 🙂

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