So I'm supposed to write something meaningful, eloquent or interesting about this book and all I can think is how exhausted and conflicted I feel. I feel exhausted for me, I feel exhausted for Dan and I feel exhausted for Vadim. And I'm conflicted between thinking this book was genius and just plain torture.
This book was long, sooo long. And this is only part one of three! It's like I'm part way through a marathon and I'm seriously doubting my ability to finish the race, yet there's that little voice telling me to never give up. I'm not sure that I can continue and I'm not sure that I want to subject Dan and Vadim to more suffering, because I'm pretty certain they're not through the toughest challenges they'll face.
Despite the book's epic length, I do think there was a really good story buried amongst the rubble and desperation of war torn Afghanistan. I'm no historian and I'm not even sure if this was an accurate portrayal of the war but it was intense and very real. It sounds morbid, but I enjoy suffering alongside a character if it's done well. I felt all of Dan and Vadim's suffering in the cold, harsh mountains, felt their hunger and thirst, their loneliness, feelings of hatred turning to unwanted lust, and eventually to love, or something like it.
I can only describe this love as an against-all-odds kind. Seriously. There is a time when you cannot imagine two people less likely to ever find love with each other but eventually, just as unlikely, you can't imagine these two surviving without each other. I can't hold on to any lingering feelings of grudge or revenge, those feelings have been wiped away with time (god knows we had enough of that) and trust. It's sort of hopeful and uplifting. Even out of the most horrible experiences, beautiful unexpected gifts can emerge.