Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review #15 - The Kite Runner

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2003
Publisher: Bloomsbury

A brief synopsis; (via Goodreads)

 1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives...

I will be honest- if it wasn't for the fact that my English Lit course requires me to read this book, I probably wouldn't have finished it.

I have nothing against Hosseini, or the way he writes- in fact, I'm really interested in reading A Thousand Splendid Suns.

It's just that I did not like this book.

Again, it's nothing Hosseini did- he did everything right, I mean. In the very first chapter Hosseini used devices to ensnare the reader- puzzle hooks, subtle hooks, foreshadowing, all things to appeal to the reader's sense of curiosity. And it did appeal to mine, but it did not make me want to read on.

I think the reason for that is the protagonist, and narrator- Amir, is not a likeable person. From the get go, he does not seem like someone who has tried to right his wrongs. I think this is also deliberate- it portrays him as a sort of anti-hero, one that the reader should eventually either feel sympathy for, or understand.

I did neither of those things, and I believe it was because, in a way, I'm pretty cruel when it comes to my reactions of character's reactions. (If that makes sense.) For example, in The Kite Runner, there is a very specific incident - that I will not mention - that Amir does not react in the 'correct' fashion to, and it infuriated me.

It made me dislike him even more, and if I dislike the main protagonist, I'm not going to enjoy the book- even if the rest of the characters are lovely people, yet slightly morally ambiguous. (With the exception of Hassan. I have nothing but pure love for that boy).

Now that I've critiqued Amir, I'd like to talk about the actual writing of the book. Like I said at the beginning, this I actually enjoyed. The plot was fantastic- if a little odd. Unlike Hosseini, I am not from Afghanistan- so I do not know if it is true or not when he makes the point of everyone seeming to know each other, or at least have friends in common. This feature actually has the opposite effect than usual- surely, it should make all the characters, and the book on the whole, seem like a familial piece. It is anything but. Being known to virtually everyone reflect just how suffocated Amir feels, even when he leaves Afghanistan.

This whole atmosphere is contradicted by the narrator, when he states that he 'feels like a stranger in [his] own country'.

There were no obvious clichés within, sure, it was a little easy to figure out where the story was headed, but that did nothing to change the fantastic way that Hosseini handled the pace or the tying together of it.

I wish some things were different- like the ending, perhaps. I found it to be a little less symbolic than I would have liked, but I think that's just me being nit picky.

My Favourite Quote:
We all had our reasons for not adopting. Soraya had hers, the general his, and I had this: that perhaps something, someone, somewhere, had decided to deny me fatherhood for the things I had done. Maybe this was my punishment, and perhaps justly so. It wasn't meant to be, Khala Jamila had said. Or, Maybe, it was meant not to be.
Star Rating: 3/5

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