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Showing 1-10 of 52 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on October 25, 2007
I can't believe the rave reviews this book has gotten, both from professional reviewers and here on Amazon. I thought the plot was melodramatic, the characters cardboard, the writing overdone. I felt very, very glad I hadn't bought the book but simply borrowed it.

Though the "Kite Runner" had problems, it also had some vivid descriptions of Kabul and Afghan life, which were what drew me in. I suspect most of these were autobiographical; it was in the book's second half, which was more fictionalized, that I thought the writer lost his way. Still, it was a good debut, and I thought he'd be able to correct the unevenness of the manuscript with his second effort. I was looking forward to it.

No. Absolutely no. The defects of the last part of "The Kite Runner" were here in force. I could not empathize with the characters or get into their heads at all, despite being a woman. It's not impossible for a writer of one sex to successfully write about the other sex, but difficult, and I applaud Hosseini's ambition. Still, I don't think he succeeded at all here. The women were cardboard figures that could have been any generic oppressed Afghan woman -- neither ever really came to life, making it hard for me to see them as anything but political constructs. It's as if Hosseini decided he would write a story about "oppression of women under the Taliban" and allowed the theme to devour the story, much to the story's detriment. The male characters were cardboard as well, as if he'd pulled "generic oppressor" figures out of a hat. Yes, they may well exist in Afghanistan. But as fictional characters, they never came to life. Nobody is so good and so bad as all the characters here.

And the triteness! The overwriting! We're hit over the head with the same image several times -- the t-shirt clad torso of one character falling down after an explosion, for example, with the same cringe-inducing reference to the t-shirt he was wearing. There were other embarrassing turns of phrase. The emotions of the characters aren't shown either; we're told that they're in agony, or whatever, but we don't see it. It's a soap opera set in Afghanistan -- very easy to read, but little of real substance. Afghan Lite, as it were.

We also don't have the same vivid sense of Afghan life that we got in the first part of "Kite Runner." That's probably because Hosseini had left the country and had to rely on second-hand stories of what went on. This isn't an insurmountable problem necessarily, but he didn't manage to overcome it. Most of the descriptions of what happened were generic too.

I wonder if one reason for the raves is that it seems politically incorrect to criticize a book about Afghanistan, especially Afghani women and their troubles? Or that this book gives people a sense that they're learning about Afghan life, which allows them to seem knowing about the news without actually making much mental effort, and that's why it's been so successful. In any case, a real disappointment.
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on July 4, 2015
Disappointing Hollywood drama after making me wonder if the same author wrote the great Kite Runner ...
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on June 19, 2007
This book seemed a bit long and at times boring. There were times when I wanted to put it down because it seemed to drag on incessantly. I finally finished the entire book and was disappointed. I thought "Kite Runner" was a better story; I didn't fully connect with this one. I didn't get the impression that Mariam and Laila were extremely close, so I was surprised at the outpour of emotion at the end. At least this story had a somewhat happier ending.

He's a good story-teller, but this book fell slightly short of expectation. I don't care for his constant negative portrayal of Afghans and their culture. I think both books give a one-sided view of Afghans, especially Pashtuns. I wish he'd write more about the positive aspects of Afghan culture, rather than adding to the negative and exaggerated stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media. It's a really cheap shot, but one that many Afghans are using nowadays to get attention because its what people want to hear.
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on December 7, 2014
The Short:
I disliked this book. I hated everything about this book. I didn't like the characters or the story. It was just bad. If I didn't have to read it for school, I would never have finished it. I feel like the author was trying to be deep and eye-opening, but this book was completely trash.

The Long:
From the start of this book I knew it was not a book that I would like. I didn't connect or even like any of the characters. They were ALL flat. There was no change in how any of the characters acted. If there was an interesting character, I may have liked reading this book. I didn't like either of the girls POV (even if the POVs were done well). They were very bland. To describe the girls in one word it would be pleb.
The plot was dull at its best. It never got to the point where I HAD to keep reading. I was always dreading picking up the book. Literally, the whole plot was the husband getting mad and the girls trying to make it better. NOT GOOD!
I don't know if people actually like this book if they have read it, but it was not for me.
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on March 30, 2015
The only reason why I decided to give this another go is I loved The Kite Runner. I hadn't read for long when I thought ,"This can't be as bad as the last novel I read (Survivors: Storm of Dogs.)" However, this novel proved me wrong.
As much as I hate this novel, I found a few things to like. The only character that I really liked was Zaman. (To be honest, I find that a bit sad.) I liked the scene where Rasheed died. Not only did Mariam save Laila, but the beating scenes almost made me stop reading several times. I really like how Mariam was pragmatic and considered the children soon after. This novel caused me to cry one or twice. Not only were the characters in a tough situation, but they dealt with it relatively maturely.
As much as I dislike Mariam, I do like her death scene. Not only was she was peaceful, but she received love. She also gave love. I do want to mention that I could sympathize with her. I do want to mention her trial. While their "justice system" is probably very screwed, I'm like how Mariam got a trial and a short sentence. The judge seemed cool since he somewhat believed her. (Well, that's the impression I got.)
I do want to mention two characters. Not do I really dislike Laila, but I can't sympathize with her. After the two scenes where she doesn't show much emotion, I decided to not sympathize with her. I detested Rasheed. Not only because the frequent, pointless beatings, but he was occasionally hypocritical. He said not to speak ill of the dead, but he does that two or three times.
While this novel is quite well written, but I have do have a few issues. I think he should have provided a glossary for the italicized words that aren't explained. Even though some fight scenes are quite devoid of detail, I'll give him a pass there. Those weren't too important. The copulation scenes were devoid of detail to the point they might have as well been removed.
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on August 28, 2009
I did not read THE KITE RUNNER nor did I see the film. I knew the subject matter of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS before I purchased the book so I was prepared for the story. I'm a bit mystified as to why so many people believe this book is "lyrical," "not to be missed," "outstanding," etc., etc., and all the other platitudes associated with it. Color me stupid, but I didn't think the writing was inventive or creative or even interesting. It's not bad writing, but it certainly isn't great by any means. The story reads like the first draft of a screenplay that's been turned into a novel. It seems the author invented scenarios for a sweeping historical saga that would look good on the screen, but completely failed to bring the characters to life in the novel.

As for the story itself, it's not over the top given the Afghan culture and how women can be treated; rather, there are some serious plot points (or rather plot holes) that do not make any sense (e.g., the ages of Mariam's father and Rasheed; how did they get away successfully the second time, but not the first; why wait so long between the first and second attempts to leave Rasheed; etc.) . As hard as life was for Mariam, I could not feel her pain or empathize with her situation. Honestly, here, I think Mr. Hosseini failed with the female voices - most of it did not seem truthful or "real." It felt artificial and contrived. The early relationship between the young Laila and the young Tariq reads like a bad romance novel.

When Mr. Hosseini incorporates the rise of the Taliban into his story, I did not find it believable or involving. It was merely a plot device (unfortunately) to move the story along. Somewhere out there is a great historical novel/story about the rise of the Taliban and its affect on Afghanistan women, but this isn't the book.
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on August 22, 2007
When compared to "The Kite Runner," I feel "A Thousand Splendid Suns" doesn't come close to the same amazing and mind-blowing literary development, originality, and accuracy presented in the first book.

Now not comparing it with "The Kite Runner," it still does not reach its potential.
First of all, it is a common plot, maybe not by Western standards, but still it is not as original. The main thing original about it is that it is adapted to modern times and takes place during actual recent wars and political events.
Second, there is hardly any distinction made between culture and religion. "Its all one and the same," that is the message I receive. Of course, I understand that is not the point. The point is that this is a culture in Afghanistan and not necessarily Islamic; however, that distinction is not clearly made as it is made in "The Kite Runner." Considering, that the topic was on women (a highly sensitive topic), you would think that the author would be more determined to make such distinctions to prevent more false assumptions from forming.
And finally, third, there isn't much development throughout the story, especially, concerning the characters. Someone mentioned on here, it is the battle between absolute evil and absolute good, and I agree. There should be some development, some internal struggles of the protagonists. They're flat in the sense that they are portrayed as perfect. The emotions, thoughts, and actions of the characters, and the plot overall, do not have the same effect on the reader as the characters from "The Kite Runner."

Although, I agree that such things can and do happen, and that this story is realistic in some ways, such as the struggles of these women are real, but for a novel that people will read and learn from, there were better ways to portray it. In all honesty, while "Kite Runner" seemed natural and from the heart, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" seems more contrived and aimed at appealing to the most popular way of thought.
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on March 12, 2015
Written as a novel it fails. If it were a non-fiction it might have been readable.
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on July 5, 2007
I read this book and loved it, but I then read "MY FORBIDDEN FACE" by Latifa, published in 2001 - six years BEFORE Khaled Hosseini's latest offering. The similarities between these books are too striking to be ignored.

Both focus on a teen-aged Afghan girl living under the terror of the Taliban, her mother is mentally unable to cope with this life so the girl relies on her father, in both books the girl has two brothers and she lives in Kabul, both books discuss the Titanic movie crazy, the abscense of boys flying kites, and the list goes on and on.

If you have read A Thousand Splendid Suns, then read My Forbidden Face and make up your own mind. Seeing the similarities brought down Khaled Hosseini's work in my mind. At best it is unoriginal and at worst it is a copy cat.
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on December 28, 2014
I had to read it for class and it was just so exhausting.
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