Michael's Reviews > The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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's review
Dec 08, 2007

it was ok
Recommended for: recyclers
Read in December, 2007

I had serious issues with this book. There might be spoilers below, if you're super-picky. But I'm not going to tell you about how Amir is actually, unbeknownst to the reader, the ghost of the patron saint of Afghanistan the whole time, or anything. Oh, damn.

I hated the narrator's guts nearly immediately, and only partially got over that over the course of the novel. I'm fine with narrators I dislike--I LOVE Notes from the Underground, and that guy's the king of skeezes--but only if their voices are interesting enough to counterbalance whatever it is about them I despise.

My problem with Amir is that for the boyhood section of the book, he's weak, cowardly, cruel, and dull. He's unapologetic about his really ugly personality, but he also completely fails to take any responsibility for himself. It seemed at times like he was boring himself with his own pettiness. If you're going to be an unpleasant person, I guess, at least take some pride in it. Enjoy your moral decrepitude. Own it. Amir cringes nonstop.

Then there were the gratuitous Farsi vocab lessons. No one speaks the way Amir does, first in his native language, then translating for the invisible audience who only knows English. The author used language as a bland condiment instead of allowing for the slightest bit of mystery--part of the book's appeal is that it's about a place and groups of people about which we're woefully ignorant, but I thought allowing for that instead of belaboring every exchange between two Afghani men with explanations for the clueless Americans might have made it a stronger book. I'm OK using context clues once in a while, or wondering what nang and namoos are, besides silly words when I take them out of context.

I don't have any complaints about the very moving and human drama that unfolds when Amir goes back to Afghanistan. The story kept me curious enough to keep reading through to the end even when the characters had exasperated me. The parallelism was so heavy-handed, though (GET IT??? His lip was SPLIT IN TWO! That's somehow FAMILIAR!) And I did think Amir managed finally to redeem himself, which is good, because I would have felt a Da Vinci Code sense of betrayal had he not, then thrown the book at the nearest wall.

I'm looking forward to the movie. I hadn't realized the same director as Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction was doing it, and I like his work.
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07/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Taylor You really dislike this book don't you?

Personally I loved the book entirely. I don't think Amir was intentionally cruel, cowardly, dull, or weak. First of all he was young. He was hardly capable of being so responsible for himself. More importantly I think the author is almost using Amir’s personality to point out the faults in many humans today. People don't like to be responsible; our society is teaching us to use others to get above everyone, to appear invincible while remaining internally weak, and to think solely of ourselves. The author was practically writing a satire at some points.

I'll totally back you up with the use of Farsi language. It added to the story at times because you got a taste of the culture but it was a bit excessive.

I loved the ending. Now I'm actually worried about the movie though. Movies made from books have a tendency to butcher the story.

message 2: by Ashley (new)

Ashley i like your recommendation :) haha

message 3: by Henry (new)

Henry strangely enough, some best-sellers are actually good! but not if oprah has touted them

Tanika 3rd paragraph perfectly describes my issues with the book/Amir. You'd thinkhe'd grow from his disastrous inaction/mistakes, but I got the impression that we were supposed to accept it happened, but we should move on cause that was the past. No. And even his 'noble' retrieval of Hassan's kid seems driven by self-interest not repentance.
I enjoyed the book cause it does sinspire the nostalgia feelings I tend to indulge in personally. 'The way things were' when things were good (eg kites) always works for me. But it's one of the few books I probably won't bother reading again.

message 5: by Sıdıka (new) - added it

Sıdıka ünler İnsani ilişkilerden, toplumsal sınıf ayrımından savaş ortamına kadar birçok konuya değinmiş yoğun bir kitap. Sovyetler işgalinin Afganistan, özellikle de çocuklar üzerindeki olumsuz etkileri çok güzel anlatılmış. Okuyana o durumun içindeymiş hissi veriyor. Sınıf ayrımı yapmanın, insanları küçük görüp nefret etmenin ve kıskançlığın sonuçlarını çok acı bir şekilde gözler önüne seriyor..

message 6: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Needle It's important to realize the conditions of Amir's childhood to correctly judge his character's traits. He grew up with a neglectful father, and felt like a burden because his mother died giving birth to him. It's true, he's not the most scrupulous of characters but I feel like he's one of the most well-rounded, he has good intentions, makes some (very) bad decisions but in the end tries to the right thing and succeeds in saving Sohrab. It's also important to note that his decision to leave Hassan to get raped by Assef was a combonation of many of those things, plus Hazaras social-standing in the country, so it's not like he didn't make that decision out of being a naturally wicked person.

Michael I no longer remember nor have any feelings about this book, but people keep liking this review. Thanks.

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