Mystique's Reviews > The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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Feb 24, 08

Recommended to Mystique by: Melissa Coworker
Read in February, 2008

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 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.
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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Maria wow I didn't even noticed that they changed the name to John..I just wanted to note that Assef is blonde because his mother is German


message 2: by Stephen (last edited Jan 31, 2012 06:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephen I caught the name thing. But only in retrospect it makes sense if the names were made up they might change.

As to Kamir and Kamal... It's unfortunate that two similar sounding (at least to these yankee white bread ears) were used in this section. Kamal was an Afghani and one of the three bullies that were in on the rape of Hassan. He was then later raped himself and that's why he was so shell shocked in the truck. Kamir was one of the Pakistani's smuggling folks out of Afghanistan (I think it was his truck)


Mystique Maria wrote: "wow I didn't even noticed that they changed the name to John..I just wanted to note that Assef is blonde because his mother is German"

Hi! Thank you for your reply. You're right, of course. I guess they just made such a big deal out of his blondeness that I would have imagined them making a big deal out of his mother's blondeness to compensate. It came across as incongruous.


Shweta Hinduja I am one of those annoying people who wants to dislike what everyone else likes, and wants to like what everyone else dislikes
like ! for this one :P


Shahirah Loqman finally some good review on this book, and a positive one! i'm a muslim and naturally i related to this book without thinking much about the characters and everything, i was in love with the knowledge about afghanistan that the author gave us from the book and revealed a few horrific scenes of the war there.
it's sad to be reading the comments above because i don't think people even tried to grasp the message behind it, which is to give a voice to the afghanistans that they too deserves to be known for all their fine and flawed qualities....


Mystique Shahirah wrote: "finally some good review on this book, and a positive one! i'm a muslim and naturally i related to this book without thinking much about the characters and everything, i was in love with the knowle..."

Hi Shahirah, It's a pleasure to "meet" you!...and all of your fine and flawed qualities. ;-)


Andaleeb We need more reviews like yours that are open of mind and large of heart ! I am a Muslim and from Pakistan.


Mystique Hi Andaleeb, It is a pleasure to "meet" you! Thank you for reading with an open mind and a large heart of your own.


Andaleeb Thanks a lot . Nice to "meet" you too. Kite running is a passion with some people over here . They spend thousands of dollars in preparation for the event which falls in spring every year. It is all about dancing ,singing and flying kites. Currently, kite flying festivals are under an official ban. The string is coated with crushed glass for maximum effect. When a kite is 'cut' it may fly away with yards and yards of this deadly string. It is left strung all over the place , roof tops ,busy streets and highways. People have been hurt even killed because of this. Inability to ensure the safety of innocent people has rightfully led this spring festival to be banned indefinitely which otherwise used to bring in a lot of much needed revenue.


Cathy Jordan You read this in one sitting?? Lol


JeriLyn Great review! I was also a little taken aback by Assef in the Taliban. It was the first turn of events that I thought was questionable. Another questionable act (in my opinion) was Sohrab's attempted suicide. He was what? 10 years old? Other than these two relatively minor "flaws", this was an absolutely incredible read. Beautifully developed characters + great writing = a spot on my "highly recommended" list!


Sarah Sociopathic/sadistic adults have all been sociopathic/sadistic children. Sociopaths are basically missing the part of their brain that makes people feel guilt and fear. They are born this way and thus all sociopathic adults were once sociopathic children. Sociopaths are actually much more common than most people think because most people think that sociopaths are violent/rapists/serial killers. Not so, although most serial killers are sociopaths. The havoc the sociopath causes is the result of what it is the sociopath wants. Many sociopaths are disgusted by violence. Those may prefer to have money, or religious power, or political power, or prestige, or a number of other things. They are willing to hurt to get what they want and feel no remorse for doing so.


Sarah Oh and another thing, sociopaths are extremely good at manipulation, so you likely have met a child like assef before, and like baba, just had no idea he or she was a sociopath because they came across as sweet and kind and respectful and a number of other wonderful things.


Fardin When i first saw this novel, from first thought i concluded it'd be another book referring to terrorism. But when i actually started to read the book i realized i was completely off. This book was about an Afghani boy, Amir, who lives with his Baba alond with his servant ali and his son Hasan. The book goes on about Amir's jealous of the humbleness that Hasan pertains. This is the main conflict inwhich he looses Hasan and then later moves to America, going from a rich afgahi to a middle-class American.


message 15: by Elena (new)

Elena Brown-soler When I first picked up this book, I was unsure if I would enjoy it or not. As I read further and further into the book I couldn't put it down, the suspense just kept building and I wanted to know what would happen next. Regarding Assef, he was a childhood bully who would mess with Hassan and Amir by tormenting and calling them names. In one part of the book, in amir's childhood, Assef talks about Hitler and how he thought he was a great man. Assef thought that Afghanistan should follow Hitler's lead and get rid of the Hazaras who were "polluting" the land of the Pashtuns. Based on this scene I could imagine Assef in the Taliban because he was driven by a vision of what he thought the country should be like.


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