I finished reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini a few days ago. For me, the book is typically better than the movie, and despite the excellence of the movie, The Kite Runner is no exception. As a writer, I’ve trained myself to look for the points in a novel that we all learned in high school literature: the inciting incident, the buildup, the turning point, the climax, the resolution. (You may remember them by the proper names; I’m going by memory.) For the terrible books, it’s obvious that they’re just following a formula: possibly because the education system is failing us yet again by churning out barely literate citizens, and possibly because they haven’t spread their literary wings and tried to write without the formula as a crutch. For the wonderful books, the formula may still be there, but the reader doesn’t notice because they’re too engrossed in the story.
One thing in particular struck me while reading: the character-driven story. It’s tempting at first to say “But there is no plot! People are just wandering around and doing things!” Character-driven stories are centered around people, not things, and Amir and Hassan’s childhood turns one unfortunate incident into a life story worth telling, especially when you figure out the significance of the prologue. In fact, the character-driven story made me remember why I love writing so much to start with. With characters leading the way, there’s more room to explore the world around them, and you get to hear the voice inside them that just wants to have their own way.
The verdict on the book: Would read again. I’m keeping this one. It’s a good thing, too. I think I got some water stains on it at the bus stop one morning.
Book vs. Movie: The book, hands down. The movie is great, but there are only so many themes one can explore in a feature-length film.