Friday, March 8, 2013

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

Everybody around me is buzzing about Khaled Hosseini's new book "And the mountains echoed" which is to be released on may 21st. So what is this all about? Should we/you be waiting for it like everybody else? I can't answer on your behlaf, but I know that I will not be waiting for this book! This post aims to explain to you why I will not also read the new book.

So I have read Hossaini's two books, "The kite runner" and "A thousand splendid suns" and I can honestly say that I was disappointed, twice. I have read "The kite runner" a long time ago which means that I don't see myself fit to review it, so here's instead my review of "A thousand splendid suns" which is the reason that made me make up my mind not to read the third book by the author.


 

Firt thing I would like to mention is that this book was a Christmas gift from my two favorite tutorial students ever. I loved the gift more than anything in the whole world and I loved reading the book because it was from them. But when it comes to reviews, I have to be objective and straight forward so here it goes.

There are two things that I liked about this book: the title and the cover page image, although the author is not to be credited for the latter one. Annoying thing however, was that I didn't see at all how the cover image related to the story. Is there a reason why this image was chosen paticularly??? I don't know for sure, but I believe that this choice was bad from an intellectual perspective because one cannot relate it later to the book. Maybe it doesn't matter to you, but I feel that if one really cares about his book, at least he should have the decency to make an effort to choose an appropriate image that relates to the story and not any stereotypic one, an image that will just do.
 
To be really fair, I did like one more thing about this book: The protagonists are women and they are themselves telling their stories. I believe for a male writer to speak in the words of a woman is very hard, especially because one has to think like a woman to know what she would say and men usually can never do that :D (right ladies?). However, I found the writer to be very successful in his task, in his double difficult task one should say, since he did speak in the words of two women and not only one and did it in a very good way.
 
Briefly, (as usual meaning this won't be so brief :D, at all!) the story tells the life events of two girls with a large age difference having very different characters and completely different backgrounds. The older girl is forced to marry a widow that is a bit older than her. Several years later, the younger girl is also forced to marry him too. The man is an asshole to say the least. At the end, the man is killed by mistake, one of the girls sacrifices herself and the other finds happiness, leaves the country and returns several years later to do just charitable work and remembers her good old friend.
 
In this book, we do not only follow the adventures of the Afghani protagonists, we find ourselves taken in a descripticve and historical trip which retraces in details the culure of this country, the destructive war, the warlords and the misery etc. However, the style used to convey the story was very ordinary, the events were very predictable (I did predict one of the girl's mom's suicide, that the boyfriend of the other girl was not killed as she had thought, that the girls escaping the horrible husband are gonna get caught etc). One major issue for me (and this is very personal) was that the book lacked music. I can't remember at all a single quote about music anywhere (or about books as a matter of fact). Knowing that I PERSONALLY really enjoy books that introduce me to new music or litterature works, "A thousand splendid suns" failed to personally please me or at least mark me. I usually mark the pages that I find really good while reading, so that sometimes my books look more like accordons than anything else :D. However, the only page that I marked in this whole book was the one where we learn about how the book got its name.  

From a technical perspectve, there was nothing creative in this book and I noticed a lot of similarities with the author's first one. Hosseini has a very clear pattern in writing: He writes about harsh subjects (war related atrocious death accidents, marriage to teens, revolution, violence, martyr etc) Also, in both books you have the character leaving the country and coming back to remember the sacrifice of a very honorable dead friend. Some of this stuff is defenitely real, but I never enjoy real books and I always say that if I want such stuff, I'd just read the newspaper or a scholar book. The creativity and the style are very important to me. The shocking truth affects me in real life but never in books. I hate when a book's strength is only based on how horrible the events it describes are!!! And this is what the book is only about. There was no magic in it and I demand MAGIC!
 

For all of the above, I hereby declare that unless you convince me that the new book is really different from the two previous ones, I shall not read it!