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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 June 2008
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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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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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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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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on 23 August 2007
Other reviewers have discussed the plot, so there is no need for me to do likewise. All I can say is that this is one of the most beautiful and deeply moving works that I have read in a very long time.

Sometimes a book can move us, but by the following week we have more or less forgotten it. This one had me in tears, and it will stay with me for ever.

Khaled Hosseini - well done. And thank you.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2008
I usually read historical novels and sci-fi so this is a bit of a departure for me but well worth it. This is a story of friendship and redemption (but not in the obvious way..) set in the years before the Russian invasion of Afganistan and after the fall of the Taliban. The friendship of two boys (Amir and Hassan) is brought to life in the eraly part of the book and the under currents of the complex family realtionships that eventually give Amir the chance to correct what he regards as his cowardice.

I won't spoil the plot but the book by turns captures the innocence of childhood, how Amir finally grows up and his determination not to let his friend down - even if it through Hassans son and not Hassan. The book vividly captures the Afghan lifestyle both before Russia and after the Taliban takeover, it is in one moment a beautifully descriptive book and then wham ! a very brutal story

This is not one to dip into - you'll get caught in the story and I defy you not to be moved
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on 23 July 2007
Wow this book is something else. I read A Thousand Splendid Suns first and enjoyed it so much, i had real trouble getting into any other book after.The Kite Runner is even better if thats possible. It is so so moving you will need your tissues at hand. It has left a long lasting impression on myself. I look forward to reading it again. I hope it's not long before we get another book from Hosseini.This is a 5 star plus rating. You must read it.
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The narrator, Amir, recalls his childhood in Afghanistan, where he lived in luxury with his father, a respected and powerful businessman. Their loyal servant Ali, and his son, Hassan, lived in a mud hut behind the big house. Despite their ethnic and economic differences, Amir and Hassan grew up as close companions and life was good.
Kite fighting was the favorite hobby for boys then; Hassan, who chased after and caught the fallen kites, was a "kite runner." Winning a big tournament at the age of twelve was the happiest day of Amir's life, but a moment of cowardice changed everything - his relationship with kind Hassan was destroyed and Amir's life was consumed with shame and sorrow.
Amir emigrated to America when he was eighteen. Years later, he returned to his country and experienced the brutality and horror of Afghan life under Taliban rule. He also found salvation and peace.
I listened to the audio cassette version, read by the author. He has a very flat reading voice which was hard to get used to, but I did, and the story was so touching and believable that I was sure it must be autobiographical. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, giving the reader ample time to become familiar with the Afghan names, places, and customs, and to really care about Amir and Hassan. I enjoyed "The Kite Runner," was sometimes moved to tears, and learned a lot about the traditions of Afghanistan.
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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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on 12 October 2006
This book has the wisdom of an ancient arabic folk story and reads with the same nostalgia that the "Arabian nights" had.

The characters have such pathos that they remain with you long after you've put the book down. There are no central female characters and I am surprised that I did not miss this.

As you read this dark tale, you might think that it could not get any darker, vivid and simple descriptions of Taliban and other human cruelties are tossed in like sour sweets. The writer poetically explains what the morally right and courageous thing to do is, when faced with such cruelties, while remaining sympathetic to the human condition.

It is a rollercoaster of a read where the characters are as colourful and soar as high as a kite. Just as you think you might have guessed the outcome, the kite is cut down and you must race through to see if the sky will be reached again.

This is his first book but I hope it is not his last.
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