The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – book review

When my cousin told me this book will make me cry, I knew then that I’d enjoy this. However, I did not expect to, not only enjoy this but to also, find myself, as cliche as that sounds. Khaled Hosseini spun a captivating tale of a boy and his friend growing up together amid a war within his nation and himself.

Amir is the persona recalling what his childhood was like and how he came to be. He’s a fortunate child raised by his widowed father and loved by the people around him. Despite having a stable and healthy life, he was envious of their servant’s son, Hassan. Hassan is known to be a Hazara while Amir, a Pashtun. Hazaras were treated to be so much lower than a Pashtun–ones who commanded the most power. During their time, both ethnic groups should not associate with one another. Regardless, Amir and Hassan were friends; they were inseparable.

Hassan, bless him, is pure, loyal to a fault. He says a line to Amir all the time when Amir asks him to do something: “For you a thousand times over.” And it truly reminds me of my grandfather. So courageous and kind. A soul so fragile and rare, it’s a wonder how you can have someone like him in your life. For being well-loved by the people around him as well, Amir yearns to be as much as regarded as Hassan was. Hence, when the opportunity presented itself, Amir took it and lost each other in the process.

I find it so mind-boggling when a line or phrase strikes you as if there’s some substance there you can’t quite grasp but it resonates with you. The line, “And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.” hit me. I read it as a quote somewhere before and didn’t give it much thought but reading it in the context of the story, it felt like I was seeing a reflection of myself somehow. It almost felt like a pat on the back to let you know that they understand you. And so it goes–I was drawn in.

More lines that struck a chord:

“I wish I could be alone in my room, with my books, away from these people.”

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

“And in the end the question that always came back to me was this: How could I, of all people, chastise  someone for their past?”

“‘Happiness like this is frightening.’ I asked her why and she said, ‘They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.'”

“But I hope you will heed this: A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.”

“And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir Jan, when guilt leads to good.”

“What had I done, other than take my guilt out on the very same people I had betrayed, and then try to forget it all? What had I done, other than become an insomniac?”

There were parts in the book that are too coincidental for it to be a reality. Then again, who is to say that it can’t happen? I’ve had plenty of coincidences–sometimes the world is just smaller than we think.

Hosseini splendidly crafted a moving plot yet there were moments when I felt that it would have been better if he let the characters breathe life into the story rather than manipulating them as to how he would like the story go. For instance, Amir was away from his wife for a month and he didn’t call even though he previously stated multiple times that he missed her. There was no mention that the character cannot call or anything and that’s odd to me since there is always something new mentioned. Maybe it’s just me but I figured that the little things that make up someone, as real as they can be, count.

Nonetheless, I find all the characters and the setting so charming. Tangible. Close to being raw. I was weeping and yet I couldn’t imagine the pain–what it really was in reality. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know much about the history of Afghans but I wish to learn more, and from this, I got a taste of it.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – book review


F. Scott Fitzgerald created a story showcasing beautiful lives of the wealthy and how it’s all a facade to keep dirty laundry hidden from pestering eyes and circulating rumors.

“Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I saw him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Fitzgerald’s prose is beautiful and lyrical as if he breathed life into the words and they sigh and laugh amid the sparkling hundreds at Gatsby’s glamorous parties or at the solemn ash heaps beyond the city. In a few sentences, he was able to present how thrilling Gatsby’s parties were; how grand it is to be among the crowd, dancing and drinking classy wine, and I find that truly magical. Moreover, he showed the crummy part of the country; how there were significant racial differences and an emphasis on the contrast between the rich and the penniless.

His characters are so amusing yet interesting to behold. They are all proud, strong-willed and alluring. Nick Carroway–the narrator of what took place during the summer–is a man who met overwhelming people in a short amount of time; hence, he was swept off his feet into their hedonistic lives. On the other hand, Jay Gatsby is a man who has been at his lowest; however, he still dreams and grasps hope with his bare hands. The other characters are selfish careless airheads who only know how to carry themselves with their noses up high and to scram before their scandals are revealed. It was pretty poetic for Fitzgerald to show the seemingly attractive yet outrageous affairs of the Buchanans through a spectator.

The plot deserves a gold medal as well. I liked how it was all fast-paced but you could clearly feel the slow-burning tension and the rhythm of the story as it progresses to its end. It felt like watching lively flames end into dying embers and the rest becomes smoke.

I’m not bothered in the slightest that the characters are so unlikable and I don’t particularly understand how it’s The Great American novel; nonetheless, I would solely reread it for Fitzgerald’s writing.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – book review

This phenomenal story is not something to be taken lightly and it’s well known to never expect this brightly woven tale akin to a heartwarming one. Alas, I hadn’t got a clue when I immersed myself into it.

By reading this, my moral compass has been prodded and poked, none too gently. It’s a wonder how you’d expect where the plot is going but it steeply turns to the left, never going the way you had anticipated.

Richard Papen, one of the students in New England or Hampden College who takes Greek Literature, narrates the story. During his stay there, he recalls significant encounters that affected his physical and psychological state. When he met Julian Morrow, a seemingly charming professor, and his captivating Greek pupils, his life takes an exciting turn. They have accepted him into their lives full of spider-webbed secrets, murder, and essentially, evil.

From the beginning, I was already interested to see where the story goes. I knew there was horror lurking around and I wanted to see what initiated it. I did not prepare myself for such blatant behavior that led to events I was startled to wonder how improbable yet feasible the events may be. I’d rather not say any more; albeit I have a lot I cannot word out as eloquently and bluntly as Richard did.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – book review

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is an extraordinary novel that bursts of magic, friendship, and bravery. I was swept by the world full of possibilities Pullman has created and I can’t help but marvel at the journey he laid out.

The story follows Lyra Belacqua, a precocious girl left in the care of priests in Jordan College where she enjoys clambering the roofs and exploring dark crypts of the ancient buildings. From there, her story escalates into a series of unimaginable adventures and unexpected encounters. Her world is in accordance with the laws of magic, theology, and science that she is destined to get tangled and be a major player in whether she liked it or not. Hence, no matter the consequences of her dangerous path she would fight for what is right to no end.

I think one of the themes that touched me the most was the bravery Lyra presented. It’s so admirable of her to continue even when she’s tempted to give up; even when she’s at a loss. Her characterization is much more developed than the other characters that I was able to understand how much weight she’s carrying on her shoulders and how young she still is.

Furthermore, the other characters were amusing to read especially Lee Scoresby, the aeronaut. I liked how he keeps it simple and real even though his job isn’t something as simple. I also liked how you wouldn’t expect anything from the characters; they’ll surprise you, anger you, and keep you on your toes. Everyone was entertaining to read and I hope to see them again in the second book.

The plot is so fast-paced that in a blink of an eye everything changes and I had to backtrack sometimes because I couldn’t believe something happened and then you’d just want to continue and see what happens next until you’re in the next chapter, then the next, and so on. Also, the very first chapter was so interesting I just knew it would be a great book and it was!

There were a few flaws, however, that made me question how probable this book is but then it is a fantasy book and I think I was just in shock on how unbelievable the plot twists are. There were so many that unfolded in the story and it was immensely overwhelming–although not confusing–and I think that’s why it’s very appealing to children and adults.

I’m delighted I finally got around to reading this book, it’s been bugging me that I have not. This is a book of strange yet engaging creatures and different yet familiar worlds that will leave unforgettable adventures in your memory and make you want for more.

The Devil’s Backbone by Kim Wozencraft – book review

A friend recommended this to me and I’d say this is the strangest book I’ve read for quite a long time. It’s no doubt interesting but it still left me with a couple of questions and I’m not satisfied. Nonetheless, it’s easily a page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story is centered on Kit, a woman who works as a stripper for a living. Her past is full of certain experiences that left her traumatized and it’s caused her to be uneasy of the present. She tries to forget it with all the booze she consumes but it doesn’t cease to haunt her day by day. As the ghosts of her past progressed, so does the secrets and surprises unfold.

The characters, Kit especially, felt kind of flat. They weren’t given any background; it was all snippets or indications on what must have been a bittersweet childhood. The dialogue seems kind of forced, it just seemed like they should say it because they portray a bitter cop or a terrified businesswoman. I just didn’t see any development in the characters; they all portrayed the same emotions in practically all chapters, hence, I couldn’t connect to them.

However, the fast-paced plot made up for the mediocre characterization. The introduction started a bit slow but the action quickly escalated that each page felt like the climax of the story. I really enjoyed the build-up–it was consistent and it kept me curious to know how it ends. Although, when I did reach the end I didn’t expect to be disappointed. It only made me question myself if the book was even worth my time because I ended up with more questions. It was an open ending that usually would be all good for me but it felt as if there is still a missing chapter Wozencraft got lazy to write.

I’d still recommend this to anyone looking for a quick–though quite heavy–read. I liked how the characters could be, at times, relatable. Also, major points to the plot; it swept me and all I could do was keep reading.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – book review


When I first saw this novel I only skimmed the blurb and already knew that I needed this. For some reason, the cover wasn’t that attractive yet it caught my attention; it wasn’t the copy I have up there, it’s the one with a photo of an apartment inside the letters of ‘A Little Life’.

I can’t talk about this book without tears welling up in my eyes. I’m a goner from the first page until the very end. This book has the type of characters you’d want to meet before you die.

UPDATE: By that, rather than studying for my upcoming exams let me just talk about the characters: Malcolm is the sweet and loyal one, in a way that reminds you of a puppy. He’s smart, very underestimated, and may seem boring but don’t be fooled, he can surprise you. JB is headstrong, protective and almost often so full of himself. He’s blunt but he means well, and he’ll never give up on you. Willem is so charismatic, he’s an all-around good guy. If anyone needs his help, he will offer it anytime, anywhere, and go to great lengths all for his friends. He’s trustworthy and he’s always humble; he’s a keeper. Jude is enigmatic to the point that he’s not aware when people are worried about him. He’s gone through a lot but he still tries to remain optimistic. He’s an excellent listener, an excellent cook, he practically excels in everything though he doesn’t notice. Then there are friends and families of theirs that are just as wonderful but that’s for another day.

They aren’t perfect, they’re full of mistakes and flaws just like any other person but they genuinely care for each other, their friendship is what keeps them together–it’s their pillar, their anchor–despite horrible episodes and unfathomable secrets.

I loved seeing that, I loved getting a glimpse of something that would seem ordinary yet if you look closely it’s actually more than ordinary, it’s simple though it’s complex. I’m not making sense, I really can’t talk about this book without babbling like a fool.

I’d describe what I’ve read if I could only think of a word that would encompass everything I’ve felt but I have no words. It’s heartwarming, it’s heartbreaking. It’s all about the little things that made it into something more. I’d recommend this to someone with a strong stomach and an iron heart–they’re necessary. I could go on and on about this; I could talk about the matter-of-fact conversations of Jude and Malcolm, the artistic flair of JB or the diverse films and plays of Willem however, it still wouldn’t change the fact that all the sad songs in the world would still remind me of this book; it’s as if this is an ex I couldn’t let go of–and wouldn’t let go.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – book review


This has opened my eyes to numerous things; from ocean currents to Zen Buddhism to Quantum Mechanics, it has brought together random yet interesting (it doesn’t sound interesting, but it is. trust me.) stuff. Everything was thoroughly explained and well-thought-out.

This novel revolves around a writer, Ruth, and a sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl, Nao Yasutani, who are both on different sides of the world. Their lives are bound to each other by Nao’s diary. One day a lunchbox containing a nifty watch, a few letters, and Nao’s diary washes up on the shore–nearby the place Ruth and her husband, Oliver, resides in and she ends up keeping it.

Around the beginning of the story, I was impatient for Nao to narrate the life of her great-grandmother just like she said she would but instead, she goes on and on about her life. However, after a few pages, I was as intrigued as Ruth was to know more about Nao.

The characters were quirky but relatable and each had distinctive voices. Personally, I liked that everyone’s history–including minor characters–were briefly explained; it gave the story substance and life, and I was able to connect to the characters more. Also, the character development was really moving.

This is a book about time, although, it’s surprisingly fast-paced, it urges you to take your time. It describes a lot of the Japanese culture as well as a handful of beautiful French translations. I highly recommend to anyone looking for an odd yet thought-provoking read.