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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Kite Runner
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216 of 226 people found the following review helpful
When it was suggested that I read The Kite Runner, I put off doing so for a long time because I am primarily a "thriller/suspense/mystery" type-of-guy. That was a mistake that I'm glad I eventually corrected. The Kite Runner is an astonishing, powerful book that had me riveted from the first to the last page. It is a story of fierce cruelty and yet redeeming love, as well as of an intimate account of family and friendship. Both transform the life of Amir, the main character, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the Afghani monarchy; just before Afghanistan's revolution and its invasion by Russian troops. Hosseini is a masterful writer whose prose and narrative style ooze emotion. If you have any hesitancy about reading this book, as I did, put your doubts aside and rush out to get yourself a copy of The Kite Runner. You'll be very glad you did. It is not only a book that will keep you from doing anything else but turning the pages, it is a book that will stay in your head and heart for years to come. It is that good!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
A wonderful book which pulls all the emotional strings, making you think that it is an autobiography. Maybe a touch too contrived towards the end but that is a tiny critiscism of one of the best books I have read in a long time. I hope they don't try and make a film of it, the characters should stay alive in the brilliant word pictures.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2008
This book came with a shower of critical plaudits from both literary reviewers and word-of-mouth accounts. And for me, the majority of this book fully deserves the accolades that adorn its covers - `masterful and painfully honest', `rich in warmth and humour' and `vivid and engaging'.

The book divides into four different sections, the opening one dealing with events in the childhood of Amir in Kabul before the Russian invasion of the late 1970s. I found this to be beautifully written. Familiar emotions surrounding childhood and friendship are wonderfully evoked and made all the more convincing by the veins of jealously, fear and cowardice that become revealed when this friendship is tested. I was introduced to a relatively unfamiliar culture in a beguiling manner, with more familiar social processes such as power, wealth and hierarchical relationships subtly revealed as the tale is told. And the physical locations - the groves of trees, the city streets, and the rooms and courtyard of Amir's home - are delightfully portrayed.

The second section moves to a Californian city, and an Afghan immigrant community. Again, this is a wonderful depiction of an uprooted people struggling to preserve dignity and social protocols particularly in the life of the garage sale flea markets.

The novel worked far less well for me though in the third section. To say too much would give away the overall structure but the fast-paced adventure here seems far-fetched in places, the characters and their experiences less convincing. In the final section, however, a sense of authenticity returns rounding off the novel in a satisfying fashion.

I found the majority of this book extremely moving. It is rare that I put down a novel so frequently, affected so strongly by its themes and the directness of its writing. However, perhaps because of the reservation voiced above, the last few times this happened, I did have a sense of Hosseini more deliberately attempting to manipulate my emotions, more as a writer's exercise than because the novel really necessitated it.

In summary, I found this a striking, beautiful and original book. The distractions that were present for me were not enough to detract from this overall impression.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2006
Amir and Hassan grow up together in Kabul in the seventies. Amir is the son of a rich and influential man, Hassan the son of his handicapped but very appreciated servant. The boys seem inseparable, but despite everything there is always the difference in standing. And then on the day of the big kite competition in Kabul something happens that turns their friendship upside down. In the beginning of the eighties Amir and his father flee to America, where Amir marries and becomes a writer. But his past with Hassan is haunting him. Then he is called to Pakistan by the dying best friend of his late father and he finally hears the secret that changes the meaning of his past. In the end he has to go back to Kabul (which is now ruled by the Taliban) to come to terms with his past and save Hassan's son.

This is truely a magnificent book that grips you from the first page. It is awful and beautiful and contains every aspect of life: friendship, treason, love and a villain and gives wonderful descriptions of Central Asia and the Afghan culture as well.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2007
As someone who has visited Afghanistan several times I was pleased to see a popular novel set in the country. Hosseini's writing style in the first half of the book is delightful and he could have created a modern literary classic. But by the second half he has decided to dump Nobel for Hollywood. He uses just about every worn-out cliched emotional writing device there is and then peppers it with so many preposterous coincidences I was left open-mouthed at the audacity of it all. It will have them weeping in the aisles down the Odeon, no doubt about it. But it could have been so much more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2007
I new nothing about Afganistan and its people before I read this book and clearly it educated me about the sad recent history of this country. The lesson is never jump to conclusions based on the generalisms lazy journalists are so oft to promote. Whilst the book does a reasonable job of emphasising certain of the nations character, the truth (as conveyed by Hosseini) is that Afganistan, like every other country, has the same cross section of people as anywhere else; bullies and cowards, generous to the mean. All of the "good" characters have terrible flaws which clearly drive the central theme of the novel. This book made we want to visit the country, meet more Afgans and understand more clearly the anguish they feel for their beautiful country.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It brought a real Afghanistan to life for me, a place of heros and villians, ordinary and extraordinary people with great strengths and great weaknesses, in short a truly vibrant and wondrous culture. This contrasts with the evil, sterile and subhuman excesses of the Taliban and the ugliness of decades of war and civil strife, the things we associate with Afghanistan. He has done his nation a great service by bringing something of its reality to the outside world.

I was hooked from page one, and found it a complete page turner. It was a truly remarkable debut novel. The wonderful characters I met, the amazing street scenes I witnessed. The real and harsh issues of culture and caste, all so well-described. The harshness of emigration and the destruction it can wreak on individuals was described with great power. The resourcefulness of human beings and the depravity that can infest the human spirit all gave a great sense of truth to the novel

There were some farcical elements of plot as we approached the end. This was a huge disappointment and it was was quite difficult to understand why the book dipped so badly at this point. Luckily, it did resurrect again.

Taken in its entirety, The Kite Runner was a quite exceptional read.
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82 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2007
'The Kite Runner tells the story of boyhood betrayal, sacrifice and ultimate redemption set mainly in Afghanistan and the US. The main character, Amir grows up in a somewhat affluent area of Kabul with his father (Baba) and their servants Ali and Hassan. Amir and Hassan are boyhood companions who could have been friends but for their ethnic differences and, more importantly, Baba's seeming preference for Hassan. The early parts of the book mainly consider the relationships between these four characters amid the changing face of Afghanistan as revolutionary war tears the country apart.

Following the betrayal, Amir engineers the departure of Ali and Hassan and sometime later he and his father flee to the US in search of a better life. Amir grows up, enters a loving but childless marriage and following the death of his father, becomes a successful author before receiving the call to return to Afghanistan, right his wrongs and learn the truth about...(well that would spoil the story).

This is a beautifully written novel that captures the essence of pre-revolutionary Afghanistan, its descent into chaos and terror, the coming (and going) of the Russians and the rise of the Taliban. In fact this message is so powerful it is not always clear if Amir's story is used as a vehicle to highlight the plight of Afghanistan or the other way round. Does this matter? Maybe not, by the end of the book you feel a stronger affinity for Afghanistan than Amir.

Despite the quality of the writing, the plot itself reveals a number of weaknesses where events seem a little too contrived - a little too neat, and the section set in the US could have benefited from severe editing. Overall though, we liked this book mainly because of the vibrant style and the manner in which Afghanistan over the last quarter century is so convincingly presented.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2007
This book was absolutely amazing. I was recommended this book and read it not expecting much as it is not my typical read. It is one of the best books I have ever read and recommended it since to many. I was torn between pity and disgust for Hassan. From the moment I picked this book up I couldn't put it down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2006
This is a story of friendship and families, of loyalties and regrets. It focuses mainly on two characters Hassan and Amir, two young boys who although completely different, share an intense bond of friendship which remains with them for all of their lives. It is a tremendously powerful debut novel combining fact with fiction, and allowing the reader a glimpse of Afghan life.

There are so many different themes throughout the book to interest the reader - from the turbulent descriptions of life in war-torn Afghanistan to the light-hearted references to kite-running competitions from where the book gets its title. But my main reason for loving this book so much was the way Hosseini crafted and developed such wonderful characters, making them real with imperfections and genuine regrets.

For me, a sign of a good book is when you can't put it down. The Kite Runner kept me awake until the early hours of the morning as I could not stop turning the pages. It was the most moving and powerful book I have read in a long time and is a book that I could definitely read again and again. I really can't recommend it enough.
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