Louis Sachar – Holes (Book Review)

holes louis sacharOpening Lines: There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland.

Synopsis: Stanley Yelnats has bad luck (which is all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather).

When Stanley’s bad luck unfairly lands him in the juvenile detention centre Camp Green Lake (a very weird place that isn’t green and doesn’t have a lake), he and his camp mates Zero, X-Ray, Armpit, Squid, Magnet and Zigzag are forced to dig holes to build character…

But what are they really digging for?

Genre: YA / Humour / Adventure

Sample Passage:

“If only, if only,” the woodpecker sighs,
“The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies.”
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
Crying to the moo-oo-oon,
“If only, If only.”

Time to Complete: 3 Days

Review

I chose this book randomly from the BBC Big Read List without knowing anything about it. I had never heard of either the book or author before and didn’t have particularly high expectations.

This was also the first time I decided to use my Kindle because I’m currently based in Colombia and many of the titles would be impossible to find here (in English).

Considering I just finished Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, I couldn’t have chosen a more different book as a follow up. Marquez’s lyrical style and artistic prose certainly contrasted with the simple but effective language of Sachar. While the former book made me despair as an aspiring published author (“How could I ever write as good as that!“), the latter made me realise that you don’t need to swallow a dictionary to create a compelling story.

Tired of run-of-the-mill detective stories and join the dots thrillers, this was a refreshing and novel idea which reminded me of the movie Stand By Me, with a group of lost boys, their insecurities and adventure into the unknown.

The boys would dig every day, all day and report any unusual discoveries to the watchful Warden who had no qualms about working them to the bone. An interesting back story from a century earlier was woven throughout the narrative and helped to put into context the discovery that the boys make on one of their laborious digs.

I won’t give away much more of the story than that because it is a really quick and fun read and great for teenagers and big kids at heart. It was optioned and made into a movie in 2003 by Disney so that should give an idea of the kind of the target audience.

Unlike my previous review, this story was very much plot driven and the characters had little depth (pun intended). However, there were some colourful characters not least the band of juvenile delinquents who on occasion butt heads with our main character Stanley and the plot kept me riveted right until the final page.

Definitely worth a read for all ages.

Overall – 7.5 / 10

Next Book: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Part of the BBC Big Read 100 List

image credit – amazon.com

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