Warning: Spoilers, lots of spoilers. All spoilers, all the time.
Hi, I’m Amir, protagonist of The Kite Runner. I’m a lying coward and something of an idiot. It’s kind of weird that the book I’m in is at all enjoyable, since I’m such an unbelievable bastard.
For example, I spend the first several chapters of the book being a complete ass to my best friend, servant, and sidekick Hassan. Hassan has some kind of martyr complex, so it’s understandable that I would want to smash his face in, but you’d think that if his selfless devotion bothers me so much I’d just get some other friends.
Soon I’m watching as the neighborhood bully beats and rapes my buddy Hassan. This part is awesome because I do nothing to prevent it or to help him afterwards, and I never show him any concern. In fact, I frame Hassan for theft and drive him and his father from their home and livelihood. It’s pretty odd that I should be cowardly enough to treat Hassan like this, and yet also sensitive enough to be haunted by guilt about it for the rest of my life. I’m the most sensitive coward ever – totally in touch with my own moral failings and unwilling to do anything at all about them. I bet you’ll enjoy reading about my self-hatred.
The middle of the book is about my life in San Francisco after my charismatic heroic father and I escape from Russian-occupied Afghanistan. We live in an interesting and sympathetic community of Afghan immigrants and refugees. They’re all fun to read about. In this part I’m sort of likable because there are no challenges to my morals or physical safety; you kind of forget what a contemptible person I am.
The last part of the book is when you’d expect me to grow some balls and start redeeming myself. Things look promising for a while: I go undercover in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to find the lost son of my old buddy Hassan. Who, in an astonishing coincidence, is being kept as a sex toy and molested by the very same psychopath who raped his father. I rescue him by getting the crap beat out of me. Wait, no, I get the crap beat out of me and then the kid rescues me. And then, because although I have grown about half a ball I’m still a thoughtless idiot, I break the only promise I’ve made to this orphaned abused child. So he attempts suicide.
By the end of the book things are looking up and I’ve forgiven myself (and I’ve even apologized to the kid!), but by now you probably don’t even care and you wish that all the other characters in the book would just walk away from me and go be in some other story that’s not narrated by a self-indulgent moral coward who might be some kind of anthropomorphic metaphor for modern Afghanistan.