05 December, 2010

Book Review: The Kite Runner

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Page Count: N/A
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4.7 out of 5. I like it--it looks like Afghanistan, and it has a nice nostalgic feel to it. Plus I like the cover scheme.

Inside flap:

Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is an unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.
   The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship, betrayal, and the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons--their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But with the devastation, Khaled Hosseini also gives us hope: though the novel's faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows for redemption.

My expectations: Since this book has been on Banned Books lists, I expected there to be at least some graphic violence/language/etc. (I was prepared to stop reading it if it got too bad.)

There was little that could be called really explicit, and my expectations were very much exceeded.

About the book: The Kite Runner is a beautiful story. It was well-paced, well-written, and realistic. Khaled Hosseini's writing is amazing, and that in itself hikes my opinion of the book greatly. The description is wonderful, and the way things are presented is believable, unlike a lot of literature these days. I felt for the characters, understood their feelings, and nothing felt forced or artificial. The events, people, and the world of Afghanistan--and, later, America--were real and just there in a way that takes excellent writing to accomplish.

  • Plot:

Excellent. There were twists and turns to it that sent the story forward, but without rushing anything. There's a big secret that comes out later in the book, which was surprising and a little shocking, and I loved that aspect. The ending was great, too; I won't say anything for fear of giving it away, but it made me a little sniffly. I felt like hugging the book afterwards (which, believe me, is something I do only for books I've really enjoyed).

  • Characters:
Amir was mixed character; a complex one, more diverse, a person that you really can't pass judgement on without knowing the entire story and the circumstances--those are the best kinds of characters. I was fond of him, frustrated at his actions, and enjoyed reading about someone who wasn't a stereotype, cliche, or an otherwise-repetitive character.

Hassan, a Hazara, is Amir's family's servant. Hazaras are considered lower-class than the higher-ups such as Amir's family's ethnicity, which is Tajik. He's loyal to Amir's family--sometimes I felt like shouting at him to stand up for himself, against what was happening to him, but it was understandable; he would only have been punished, mocked, etc. I loved him as a character.

Amira's father, Baba, wasn't quite a stereotype, although some of the things he did could fall into that category. I wouldn't call him a cliche though, since he still had depth and importance. I didn't like him, but the interplay between him, Amir, Hassan, Hassan's father Ali, and the people he met in America was interesting to read.

  • Setting/Elements:

There are practically no books set in Afghanistan, at least in the USA (I'm sure there are books on it in other countries--like, well, Afghanistan), so it was fascinating to read it just for that fact. It was another perspective into the lives of regular Afghans, the social structure, and it was a look at Kabul before the wars began, before the Soviets, and before the USA stuck its big head in. The world was depicted well, in the writing; I could see the city clearly in my mind.

Other: There is rape, but it's not nearly as graphic as some people seem to be making it out to be. It mentions blood, (after the rape) but it doesn't go into the details--the other character is running away from the scene as it happens, and there is no head-hopping into the victim, or the ones committing the crime. There are references and some language, and a scene ends as two characters are about to have sex (there is no description during that part, though). Some violence; mentions of war, physical attacks, attempted suicide.

I want to see the movie! Hopefully they didn't butcher it, like they do with some really good books; it would be interesting to see how they incorporated the Afghanistan part of it. There certainly aren't many movies out there that involve Afghanistan.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Absolutely.

-----The Golden Eagle

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Anonymous said...

I've heard a lot about this one but haven't read it yet. Guess I'll be adding it to my reading queue!

Cherry said...

my mom read that! she says its really good

KarenG said...

This is one that has been recommended to me highly by some people, and not recommended by others-- all readers whose opinions I respect. I've not yet read it, but it's on my shelf, just not sure which shelf!

Dominic de Mattos said...

Thanks for a really great review. I shall put it on my wish list!


The Words Crafter said...

I've seen this book everywhere and I appreciate you posting a review. Maybe I'll find time to read it or at least listen to it this month. (I've officially designated December as my read like a maniac month!)

Old Kitty said...

Oh I want to read this now!! It's so on my pile of "To read"!!! I got this last year and am yet to read it!!!!

Thank you so much for another amazing and honest review! Take care

Mary Vaughn said...

I've heard pros and cons from people I know none were voiced without prejudice. After readin your review, I may have to give it a shot.

Lynda Young said...

This is not the type of book I generally go for, but after reading your review I think I will add it to my TBR list.

RaShelle said...

Wow, it sounds AMAZING. Thanks for the review. I want to read a novel that makes me want to hug it afterward, too. =D

mist of the blossom rain said...

interesting review. I am always looking for new books to read, so i really appreciate you mentioning this one!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I thought that I was the only one that wanted to hug great books when I was done with them! I absolutely loved this book! My Not So Bebe Girl who was 15 at the time, bought it and then gave it to me when she was done and said, "You have to read it". I gave it a loving home with my son's second grade teacher, who really wanted to read it as well. I recently got A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I haven't been able to read it, because as soon as she saw it, Not So snatched it and ran off into her room with it! :)

Thanks for the wonderful, detailed review!

Arlee Bird said...

Excellent review, but I doubt that I'll be reading it. It's been on my NetFlix queue for a long time as well--maybe I'll watch it eventually.

Tossing It Out

Misha said...

I really loved it. The story and characterization was very well done. But that twist you referred to knocked me down so badly that I decided not to read his second book immediately afterwards.

Will get there though. Eventually.

Christine Danek said...

I've heard a lot about this book. Sounds interesting. I may have to check it out.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll have to read it sometime!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love, love, loved this book!! :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

Milo: I hope you do! :)

Cherry: It is a good book.

Karen: I have books like that too--TBR, or not-TBR, it can be confusing!

Dominic: You're welcome!

I hope you enjoy it, if you do read The Kite Runner.

The Words Crafter: Glad to help! :)

Every month is my read like a maniac month . . . LOL.

Old Kitty: Happy reading!

You're welcome, Old Kitty!

Mary: I don't often start a popular book without having some kind of idea of it beforehand, either; it's hard not to, unless I've never heard of the book before.

Lynda: It's a really good book--I hope you like it, even if it isn't what you usually read.

RaShelle: You're welcome for it!

Huggable novels are some of the best.

Mist of the blossom rain: I have so many new books to read, I think you're lucky to be in a position of looking for more! :D

The Golden Eagle said...

Julie: Awesome! Another book-hugger. :D

Oh, I really have to look up to see if any of the libraries around here have A Thousand Splendid Suns since I really, really want to read it now.

Lee: Glad you like the review!

I think my library has the movie; I'll have to check that, though.

Misha: Some books are like that, true; they stun you enough to the point of needing a break from all the shock . . . LOL.

Christine: You're very welcome!

Alex: You should! It's worth the time.

Shannon: Great! :)