In its own tone and structure, Khaled Hosseini’s novel adopts the semi-mythical storytelling mode that runs through the life of its main characters, Amir and Hassan. This is a story of childhood betrayal and eventually a redemption that is as realistic and unrealistic as the prospect of redemption itself. For that reason, much of the book’s predictability is less a criticism than an observation (I’m also unsure how much of that I should attribute to the immense popularity of the book leading to so many overheard conversations, online and otherwise, that I subconsciously picked up on). Similarly, such storytelling often demands a significant suspension of disbelief, a capacity of mine that was strained most during one of the most important climactic sequences.
I don’t know if it’s just me—perhaps I’m too jaded—but Khosseni’s book, which is often beautifully written and even more often deeply moving—has a tidy neatness about it that makes me feel a touch of authorial manipulation. The redemption and revenge narratives aren’t one-side or easy, but they feel too simple. The depiction of war, loss, heartbreak and love feel accurate and realistic. The curative power of redemption isn’t all-encompassing or instantly complete…I was left wondering why Khosseini, who made Amir a complicated protagonist that I both sympathized with and at times disliked, couldn’t build on that complexity and create a more unkempt—and so more believable and powerful—book.
If you’re one of the few people on the planet who has yet to read The Kite Runner, you still should.