Monday, June 25, 2007

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Rating: Lousy

The Kite Runner was a much hyped book in the recent past. It seemed for a while that I couldn't go anywhere without reading or hearing something about how wonderful and important it was. But despite that, it didn't seem all that interesting to me from the descriptions I heard.

Then my wife wanted to read it, so I got a copy via and eventually she cracked it open.

And she put it down again almost immediately, saying she hated the main character.

Oh my. Now what to think? Well, perhaps I won't be as bothered by him as she is, and it really has a ton of gushing reviews behind it. It can't be all that bad.

Oh yes it can. It absolutely can be that bad.

I read 104 of 371 pages. That was all I could stand, so I don't get credit for reading the whole thing. But I'd rather have needles stuck in my eyes than have to read the rest of it.

The prose is serviceable at best, and certainly not "poetic" as so many reviews claim. The main character is simply awful. There is no hint in anything I read of any kind of redemption coming, though the reviews all say it happens. If so, the author gave me no hint that this creep is worth knowing. He's repulsive in the extreme.

I'm a busy person, and I want to read things I enjoy when I read fiction. Non-fiction is different; I generally read it to learn something specific, and that implies that the characters are real, so I am reading about someone's actual deeds. That's fine with me. Reality means something, and I can deal with it.

On the fiction front (where this book resides) I often read works featuring anti-heroes and/or people that do awful things, but somehow there's something different about The Kite Runner that makes it simply bad, instead of interesting or relevant. I can't envision it as a study in character development, for example, because I didn't find the history or motivations of the main character consistent and believable. They appeared entirely fabricated by the author to unsettle the reader. If so, he achieved his intent, but I doubt that's what he really meant to do. I suspect he wanted us to feel for this character somehow, and that only made things worse for me. The clunking story line and unbelievable actions wouldn't let me do that, so I just wound up hating every page.

My advice on this one is to skip it, but I know I am way out of step with the rest of the planet on this issue.