And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
I went into this book with low expectations because I had seen a lot of mixed reviews and I'm glad I did that, because if I went into it expecting greatness then I would've been very disappointed.Summary: Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them.
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by the same author, is one of my favourite books and I love The Kite Runner too (although I've only saw the movie and read the graphic novel version). This book, it doesn't even come close to measuring up to those ones.
It wasn't a bad book, there were parts of it that I liked, parts that got under my skin, but as a whole it was just... I didn't enjoy it much because the bits I liked weren't enough to outweigh the stuff that I didn't.
I think the main problem is that there is just too many characters, too many different stories (I think we get 7 different POV's, 9 if we include an interview and a story within the story). The summary makes it sound like it's just about this brother and sister who are separated and if the story had remained focussed on that then it would've been much, much better but it didn't.
It was like there was too much crammed in and a lot of it was just completely unnecessary. Just as I'd start to feel invested in certain characters and feel like the story was picking up pace, it would switch to a brand new point of view and begin someone else's story and it just got really frustrating.
And yes, there were tiny overlaps between the stories, little details that tied them all together, but it would be like...we would get someone's life story--huge chunks of the book--just for one paragraph or one sentence of relevant information. I didn't need to know the stories of Markos or Adel or Idris, they didn't need to be there or to be as long as they were, all they did was derail the story from the stuff I actually wanted to get to.
About the ending too (without spoilers), Khaled Hosseini has this way of writing heartbreaking endings that are beautifully bittersweet. He did it with A Thousand Splendid Suns and he did it with The Kite Runner, and he does it really well in those. He followed the same pattern with this book, but it lacked the emotional impact it did with the other books and just fell kind of flat (maybe because it was so dragged out, by the time it finally got to the part I was waiting to happen, it was just a let down).
I'd rate the book 2.5 stars out of 5. It wasn't awful, it did have its good points, but as a whole it was just unsatisfying and lacked the spark of his previous two books--they were amazing, this was bland in comparison and just an average book in general (maybe if I didn't love his other books so much I'd have rated it slightly higher).