Book Review (#90): The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Author : Khaled Hosseini

Title : The Kite Runner

Publisher : Riverhead Books

Released : May 2004

Pages : 371 pages

Format : Paperback

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 that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

This review has spoilers so please do not continue reading if you do not want to be spoiled.

My non-spoiler review is as follows:

  • I could not relate nor empathize with the main character due to his actions in the book that contradict with my own personal philosophy and this hampers my enjoyment of the book; it is not fun to read from a perspective of a person you find disgusting
  • I did not like the ending whatsoever, it truly undermined the main characters redemption story and took away the weight of his actions

With, my non-spoiler thoughts or review out of the way let’s continue to my rant-ish review.

The over-hype made my enjoyment of this book dissipate the more I read on. I kept on waiting and waiting for this miraculous story everybody has been talking about for years to appear through the pages but I was unfortunately left with bitter disappointment.

I was left to wonder was it me? Perhaps I had misread the book or misunderstood key elements pertaining to the core of the story.

Dislike over the main protagonist already coursed through my veins the moment I had started reading. I disliked Amir’s entitlement and after reading that he did not come to Hassan’s aid when Hassan was being raped by Assef just sealed his fate in my eyes that he cannot be redeemed, I truly was repulsed by his character. Thus, reading this book through the eyes and perspective of a character I was sickened by, to say the least frustrating.

It was hard for me to be engrossed in the plot of this book due to this factor. I could not for the life of me empathize with this boy and eventually man who lacked conviction and who had so much self-pity for himself it was honestly bordering on narcissism. There was this one part in the book where Amir said that he refused to sacrifice more for his Baba and that he will make a stand to be a writer and this baffled me.

Sacrifice? What sacrifice was Amir talking about? He did not mean the time he framed Hassan of theft so Baba will throw Hassan and Ali out from their home due to Amir not being able to face the guilt he harbored for not helping his childhood friend. The same childhood friend who stood up for him and I almost understood why Amir did not help Hassan. I understand a person’s fight or flight response is involuntary but what he said in his monologue to justify his actions was just so abhorrent. Amir half convinced himself that this rape did not matter because Hassan is a Hazara, he is just a lowly Hazara boy.

Another issue, I found with the book was the ending whereby it is revealed that Hassan is Amir’s half-brother making Sohrab his half-nephew. The reason I have a problem with this twist ending was that it takes away the weight and significance of Amir’s redemption as well as being completely unnecessary. I felt that making Hassan just a childhood friend is more powerful of a statement in terms of the racism between the Pashtun’s and Hazara’s whereby Amir has finally had enough conviction to throw caution to the wind and just save this boy regardless of his ethnicity.

But by making Sohrab his nephew, it makes Amir’s redemption essentially useless as he has to bring Sohrab home if he does not want his life to be clouded with more guilt. Eventually, Amir did become a better man and Afghani by helping out in the Afghanistan cause after his adoption of Sohrab.

Also, another problem came to mind when Hassan’s heritage was revealed was the fact that Baba knowingly let his other son be illiterate. Baba was an affluent man and yet he couldn’t afford to hire a private tutor for Hassan yet he claims to love Ali and Hassan like his own family and quite literally Hassan IS his family. Keep your racism in check Baba.

Overall, the book when I take my disgust over Amir out of the equation is a good book but it does feel very formulaic and I am glad that I had read the author’s other books first thus I know his writing does improve.

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