The 2003 novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was an instant smash. It hit No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, selling 7 million copies domestically. It was even adapted into a film in 2007.
The Kite Runner--the story of a young Afghan's exodus from his homeland to escape the Russian incursion in the late '70s, his coming of age in America, and his dramatic return home to face his past by confronting the Taliban--has now also been adapted into graphic novel form by Riverhead Books.
The illustrations, by Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo, move the story along at a brisk pace. The whole of the book can easily be finished in an evening, making an intense story like The Kite Runner approachable for readers unwilling to commit to a novel.
But the book as a whole reads somewhat like a storyboard for the film adaptation, offering little in the way of unique panel technique or artistic interpretation. Some of the more-nuanced elements of the images are lost and don't hit as hard, which is a great loss for a story as moving as The Kite Runner.
This problem is especially noticeable during a graphic depiction of sexual assault that is a major turning point for the plot. In the film and the novel, it is a painful experience one goes through with the characters. But in the graphic novel adaptation, it can be breezed through with little difficulty.
Another scene, in which the protagonist's father confronts a Russian soldier at the risk of his own life, is also less tense. Some of the funnier moments from the story are dulled as well. In the book/film, they come from the subtle hint of a smile or the liberating emotions a character wishes to express but must repress so as not to offend those who adhere closely to ethnic traditions.
But that's not to say it isn't a good read. The story still sings from the page, and it gives credibility to a storytelling medium that has struggled to be accepted as literature.
The Kite Runner may not go down as one of the great graphic novels of all time, but the adaptation is a way to introduce it to those who might prefer a comic medium.[ Video is no longer available. ]