While I appreciated the history lesson to some extent, there was nothing subtle about the way it was done. Especially as the novel progressed and started jumping ahead in time, without anything substantial happening in the plot. The emphasis changed from characters to history, so instead of 5 years later, this character experienced this, and meanwhile this was happening, it became 5 years later, this happened, and the character felt this way. It's irritating. On the other hand, you think, well shit, with such turbulent events happening around you, how could you not be focused on them? The typical problem of realism in contexts of historical misery. The other problem, of course, being just how much atrocity will you put in? And will the plot seem credible to an audience reading it in utter security? I mean, how can I judge what is probable in a situation like that, when I know so little about what it's like to be in that situation? Perhaps what seems like cliche really isn't? Still though, it's hard not to feel like Hosseini is, to some extent, delivering what he must know is highly likely to be an extremely satisfying narrative to American readers, one that isn't likely to challenge them in any way. Not that The Kite Runner was especially challenging either, but it came across as being more true to itself.
Hosseini is a skilled writer - but it seems that the massive success of his first novel did not have the best influence on his future efforts.