Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Kite Runner

Why are you saying these things?" I said.

Because you wanted to know," he spat. He pointed to an old man dressed in ragged clothes trudging down a dirt path, a large burlap pack filled with scrub grass tied to his back. "That's the real Afghanistan, Agha sahib. That's the Afghanistan I know. You? You've always been a tourist here, you just didn't know it.”

― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner


Beautiful Kabul; beautiful writing
The Kite runner is a book about how a coward who after deserting his best friend, and then compounds the problem by pushing him away in his time of greatest need, is given an opportunity to redeem himself. The first half of the book is looking back at Amir’s life as a child in Kabul before the USSR invaded Afghanistan.

At times the writing is very beautiful and descriptive, when Khaled talks about Kabul you feel a genuine happiness.  


Unnecessary Emotional Turmoil
The book moves quickly and is a fast paced page turner as his life falls from one crisis to another, and that is also where I found it tiring. I started feel the author was trying too hard to make me feel upset and sad, throwing one sadness after another, sometimes with no bearing on the story.

The second half of the book shoots along too quickly and at times I feel I am being told too much as he rushes to bring him toward his chance of redemption. The protagonist is not a particular nice character and even his chance of redemption is forced upon him, he does not go looking for it—more luck than design.

Ruination
Once we go back to Afghanistan, I hoped for more of the writing from the first half of the book but again the scenes move along too quickly. Amir’s chance of redemption is not totally of his own doing. He starts as the agent of change but in the end gets rescued by the person he is trying to rescue—maybe it is corny ironic revenge or maybe a clever layering of the physical and psychological rescue of Amir (I think the former.)

As we approach the end of the book, the protagonist has shown bravery, is working hard to be good, and has already shown fear of being separated from the boy for just one hour, when he inexplicably reverts to his former self—a weak, self-centered coward. I find this change so massively out of character now that it ruins the book, and it seems to have been done, again, to allow the writer to create a deeply sad and upsetting scene.

The last chapter is nicely written, but I found the set up leading to it so contrived I could not wait to finish it and the book.


To Sum Up

Nice descriptions of Kabul but the end spoiled it for me.

Rating: 1st half of the book—4.5 out of 5

Rating: 2nd half of the book—1 out of 5