The World According to Renee

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Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Whenever I read a really good book by an author, I’m hesitant to read more for fear my high expectations won’t be met and the memory of that one really good novel will be forever sullied by knowing their follow-up was rubbish.

Fear not with Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. In his second novel after the brilliance of The Kite Runner, Hosseini doesn’t disappoint.

Set in Kabul, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two girls who are more alike than they care to admit. I don’t want to give anything away; you’ll want to let the story reveal itself.

The novel centres around Mariam and Laila, who don’t meet until about halfway through the novel. Reading the blurb on the back, I kept wondering how it was going to happen. My advice to you is: just let it happen and don’t think ahead. Several times during the novel I wondered where it was heading. Some parts are predictable, such as every time a female has sex, she’s going to get pregnant as they only can in a novel. Some parts are shocking. Anyone who read The Kite Runner knows a bit about Afghan history and will follow the setting closely. Where the characters from Kite Runner were refugees from the war, Mariam and Laila et al stay put.

As with The Kite Runner, I cannot recommend this novel enough. I also think it would make a better film than Kite as it is written in third person with not so much reflection.

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April 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Kite Runner (film)

Please note that this post contains spoilers.

I think I’ve finally worked out why novels don’t translate to the screen (with few exceptions). When you have a novel that is so entrenched with internal dialogue, it’s impossible to carry that to a film. Not only do you have time constraints, you also have limited characters to move it along (unless you want a narrator, which makes the film very wordy). This is, I believe, the main reason this film doesn’t work. The novel was harrowing, following Amir’s internal anguish over events which the film doesn’t accurately portray. There’s no connection to the story, no ability to follow how one things leads to the next.

The film is disjointed, as is the novel. However, if you’ve not read the novel I think you lose the hows and whys of this linear disconnection. The other main issue I have with the film is that there’s no feeling there; it’s as if the actors turned up, said their lines and disappeared for the day. There’s no connection between the actors or the characters. They are lost in a jumble of Farsi. I liked that the film was mostly in Farsi, with English subtitles as it added to the authenticity of the setting. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends for me. Amir seems trapped in a predestined script (well, obviously he is… but in the novel his journey was much more organic and flowing). All the important scenes and dialogue are there but towards the end, there are some major bits omitted so the ending feels rushed. If you haven’t read the novel, you’ll probably get to the end and wonder what the hell just happened. Even if you have read the novel, you’ll probably get to the end and wonder what the hell just happened.

None of the beauty of the novel is preserved. The film doesn’t have time to stop and smell these roses that create the Afghan world. Obviously filming in Afghanistan is nigh impossible and the imagery created in my mind is not going to be translated to the screen, but I still felt Amir’s world was inaccurately portrayed.

Forget the film, read the book.

5 out of 10 popcorns.

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment