It is the story of Amir, an Afghan boy, written in first person. It revolves around his friendship with Hassan, the son of his father's servant. The first part of the story is set in Kabul, during its last few years of monarchy, where Amir's childhood days are spent living and playing with Hassan, going to school, and trying to bond with his well-to-do, socially respected father. Amir and his dad move to Pakistan and then to the United States to escape the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Fifteen years later, Amir returns to a Taliban infested, blood-drenched, scary Afghanistan in hopes of redeeming his lost friendship with Hassan and to "find a way to be good".
The Kite Runner is a great book for many reasons. But most of all, it is a great book for the one reason tales continue to be told and fiction writing thrives - its entertainment value. I saw the book at a friend's place. I flipped to read a couple pages just to confirm my suspicions about the nature of the book. About 3 pages later, I was hooked and it remained to be a page-turner till the very end. The second half of the book has loads of twists and turns (and it occurred to me more than once that our hindi movies would do well to use a few of these ;-) ). [And the finale was not melancholic, though emotions do reach an all-time high :).]
It is also a great book for my most favourite reason: the eloquent writing style. The narration is very simple, yet remarkably effective and passionate. So passionate, it was hard for me to believe it isnt the author's own life story.
While it is obvious that I very highly recommend the book, I would like to sneak in the one minor personal quibble I had - the narration seemed like the author did not want to give allowance for happiness. Amir's life has its highs and lows, happy and sad times. The lows are given just the right treatment - narrated in a manner to evoke empathy in the reader without making it unduly dramatic. The highs, though, are either written in a matter-of-factly style or immediately followed up with hints of impending woe - statements on the lines of "It made me happy, lest did I know it wouldnt last long". But all said, I should add that this is mostly overshadowded by everything else that the book became a best seller for.
Now, also adapted into a movie.