**spoiler alert** Embers is a great title for this book. I felt like this book was a burning ember and I had to continue to fan the flame to keep myse...more**spoiler alert** Embers is a great title for this book. I felt like this book was a burning ember and I had to continue to fan the flame to keep myself reading. For me, the book didn't get interesting until around page 100. There were many storylines, but only one was particularly captivating and frankly, its resolution left a bit to be desired. In that desire was a certain amount of beauty and a lot of truth, however. I can safely say that the story resonates with truth.
SPOILER ALERT: There are neither happy nor sad endings, just endings. No insightful character revelations. Primarily monologues.
My primary beef with the story is the translation. Originally published in Hungarian, the book is translated into English, in my opinion, without lustre. The word "grave" is used with such frequency that I actually think I read it more times in this one book that I have read, seen, or heard it in my entire life. Additionally, there is one moment of modern-day slang used by the interpreter that would never have been used by a 19th century Hungarian. These foibles brought me so far out of the story that I was utterly transported...and not in a good way.
Beyond the translation issues, the story was just "ho-hum". I cannot understand why Krisztina's portrait is on the cover of the novel. She plays a subtle role, which I thought could be intriguing, but really...it isn't. SPOILER ALERT: I guess it's up to the reader to decide whether or not she was in on the murder plot, and perhaps I have such a vivid imagination (or such a desire to see SOMETHING happen in this book) that I want to shout, "Of COURSE she plotted with him! Of COURSE she did! Who wouldn't?!" Alas...the best thing about the book was the power outage.(less)
I don't know that the story itself was interesting (the backdrop and the happenings), but the insight into the mind of the main character were touchin...moreI don't know that the story itself was interesting (the backdrop and the happenings), but the insight into the mind of the main character were touching, fascinating, gorgeous, hysterical, sad and wonderful. This book has caused me to look at (all) people a little differently and when a book can do that, it's a good book.(less)
It took me a long time to make it through this book. I'm glad I read it, but it's not particularly scintillating. There is no real character developme...moreIt took me a long time to make it through this book. I'm glad I read it, but it's not particularly scintillating. There is no real character development or interaction, but following descriptions of the worlds and lives of the characters through the vehicle of Math made the book worth finishing.
As a child, I did not have the best relationship with Math, but as an adult I find it more fascinating, which could be one reason I enjoyed the book. Seeing Geometry from the viewpoint of one, two, and three-dimensional characters/shapes living it day-to-day makes it fun and interesting.
The more I read of Flatland, the more I found multi-dimensional writing, in a similar fashion to Animal Farm. Two-dimensional shapes accused of treason for suggesting that there could be a world of three-dimensions. Isosceles triangles subjugated or elevated depending on the degrees of their angles.
This is a book that I can imagine being used in a high school Math class, or in a Social Studies class.
My head hurts, so that's all I have to write, for now.(less)
I have some criticisms for this book, but because I chewed through it in such a short amount of time, I'll start with what I like and move to the crit...moreI have some criticisms for this book, but because I chewed through it in such a short amount of time, I'll start with what I like and move to the criticisms.
I did NOT want to like this book. I am one of those annoying people who wants to dislike what everyone else likes, and wants to like what everyone else dislikes. Usually, this works out for me without effort; however, in the world of literature there are occasions that it does not. This was one of those occasions.
The book was brutally heartbreaking, but redemptive. Relationships were richly developed, emotions piqued and dropped - hallmarks of a good story.
One of my favorite things in literature is learning. If I learn from a book, I consider it valuable. Bite-sized foreign languages lessons will bolster a book's merit. This author taught me about the history, language, and geography of Afghanistan, and about the sport/hobby of kite flying/kite running. I've always thought that a person just bought a kite and flew it. I've never heard of coating the string in cut glass to cut down other kites.
The book has numerous other redeeming qualities that are likely to make it a classic read, but it does have some flaws. One thing that just kept annoying me toward the end of the book was the names of John/Thomas and Betty Caldwell. The first time they're mentioned, they're Thomas and Betty Caldwell. The next time, they're John and Betty Caldwell. WELL? Which are they?? Where was the editor on this one? No, it didn't affect the story, and it shouldn't affect me, but it did. I kept finding my thoughts drifting. Because they were never real characters, did the editor/author not find them integral to the plot? Did they have the same issues with Thomases and Johns that I have with Kamals and Kamirs? Perhaps they're unfamiliar with the names, and so it was easy to make the mistake? I admit, I was plagued. I thought about removing a star for it, but we only have 5 stars with which to work, so I didn't.
The next flaw is perhaps in my own ignorance, but I can't imagine Assef being in the Taliban. The tale describes him as blonde and blue-eyed. I don't imagine him being part of a hate-group that targets Americans as infidels if he so closely resembles one, but I have also heard that there are blonde and blue-eyed Afghans, so perhaps this is my own ignorance shining through. I have Afghan friends, but none of them has blonde hair, or blue eyes. Further, Assef is absolute evil from an age at which I'm not convinced that any child has such a developed sense of hatred, especially when we consider that, upon meeting his parents, we find them timid. Again, this could be my own ignorance of children outside of my own culture, but it's a bit tough to swallow. I didn't find it too difficult to suspend my belief, but there wasn't too much else in the tale that required such suspension.
Overall, the book has all of the ingredients needed to create a great tale - whether or not it required some belief-suspension and some editorial errors. When I complete a book in one sitting, I cannot convince myself that I didn't enjoy it. I must be true to the obvious and give it 5-stars.(less)