i started reading this during some down time in an inclusion drafting class i was sitting in on at the high school. one of the senior boys in the room noticed and said, "are you reading that? man, it's dark." after finishing the book, i am in total agreement with his assessment. the book is dark from beginning to end. there is only an ever so slight ray of light flickering to life in the final pages, but that smile makes it all completely worthwhile. redemption is the powerful message and central theme to "the kite runner." innocence paid a high price for human weakness in this novel and the subsequent redemption was costly. bleak and profound. that is my assessment.