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

Rarely does one find a novel so beautifully written but such a simple tale. Welcome to The Kite Runner, the story of… Well, there are many stories within this novel. There’s stories of atonement, survival, redemption… How can one man play so many roles in his own life story?

On the surface, The Kite Runner is about a refugee from war-torn Afghanistan in the 1980s. What is he really running from? Painful childhood memories, sins of the father or his own cowardice? I was completely engaged in the novel from the very first page. Just when I thought the novel had nowhere else to go, it twisted into another tale, another role to play. When you look deeper, everything is a subtle revelation of life. The words take aim and capture the reader to a world barely known. If not for the political decimation, Afghanistan would be the top of my list of places to visit. The imagery created is worthy of film-making, yet I cannot see how it could be done (although it has; the film was released in 2007 and I plan to watch it in the very near future). The protagonist, Amir, almost pokes fun at the essence of writing yet it’s so beautifully woven into the novel that I think most readers would miss it.

In any case, I cannot speak highly enough about this novel. It’s a wonder, a masterpiece. I almost wrote “a joy” but it is not. This is a tale about the horrors of living in a warzone, a country where your home and roots are but you are not. It’s worse than watching a dog rip apart your favourite childhood toy, its stuffing thrown about to lie where it falls and no one cares enough to pick it up.

The themes of guilt, atonement, redemption and family are woven through the novel and it never falters. It’s truth spilled onto the paper without shadows; this is a real person and not a character in a book where they will overcome all.

Take this journey with Amir. Let him show you the beauty and the horrors of life.

9.5 out of 10 bookmarks.

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment