Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book review - The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
This is one of those books that has always been on my radar. When it was released it received universal praised.  Over the years in the various offices I have worked in, a group of people would read it and say how wonderful it was. However, whenever I enquired as to what it was about, I was always told something along the lines of, it deals with the political climate in Afghanistan. My eyes would instantly glaze over and I would tune people out – short attention span I know. It is not that I don’t like politics but I have never found a book focussed on politics that has engaged me. However, finally I decided to give it a go.

The blurb:
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption. And it is also about the power of fathers over sons -- their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
Sometimes it is all in the how the book is portrayed to me. If someone had said to me this book is “To kill a mocking bird meets Afghanistan,” I would have snapped it up years ago. The prose flows effortlessly and the story is so easy to read, for the first time in ages I didn’t want to put the book down at the end of my commute and go to work.
The story focuses primarily on Amir, the son of a highly respected father in his community. Yet, try as he might, Amir can never quite win the affection of his father. Instead Amir's father seems to favour Hassan, Amir's best friend. The problem is Hassan is a servant and so if ever he is picked on by the other children, Amir is confused about whether or not to intervene.
This is partly due to the role in society the boys have and partly due to Amir's cowardly nature. As a result Amir is excellent to read. His actions are often questionable, he doesn't always think nice things  and is sometimes cruel but at the same time he garners great empathy. Every decision he makes is logical if not ill conceived.
Hassan is great character. His devotion to Amir is something to admire and his calm, thoughtful manner makes you long for a friend as loyal. Other great characters are Rahim and Amir's father.
Khalled Hosseini focus is on his characters, yet he does not shy away from bringing to the fore the horrors that occur in Afghanistan. Considering his characters are so strong, this illicits powerful responses from the reader when these horrors affect the cast.  The novel is filled with tragic events but at the same time this is tempered with touching highs. The result is the perfect blend of story telling.
Personally I find that most stories of this ilk, excel when recalling the childhood of the character but fall away when the narrative moves to the protagonist's adulthood. This is not the case with the "Kite Runner," Khallid cleverly demonstrates how his characters have evolvedand learned from their mistakes, whilst also repeating others.
If there is one plot device that I love, it is the storyof redemption. In the "Kite Runner," I was desperate for it to happen. I am a fan of dark endings normally,but in this book I wanted a happy one. Did I get my wish - as if I am going to spoil it!
In summary, I loved the The "Kite Runner," easily my favourite read of the year so far (and there have been some great contenders). I have instantly downloaded Khallid's other books and look forward to reading them.
My rating: 9.7