Monday, January 20, 2014

A Review of 'Holes' by Louis Sachar

"Stanley Yelnats is under a curse.  A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats.  Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep.  There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.  But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake.  The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something.  But what could be buried under a dried-up lake?  Stanley tried to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment-- and redemption."

I had only ever seen the movie (about a billion times) before reading Holes that I was sick to death of this story.  I thought that I knew everything about it, but I stand corrected.  One again, the book proves to be better than the film adaptation.

Compared to Stanley in the movie (played by Shia LaBeouf), I liked book Stanley a lot better.  In the movie, Stanley was insecure, but in the book, Stanley was more insecure.  He was overweight, his family wasn't very financially well-off, and no one at school bothered to be friends with him.  He was clearly in a dark place, which, according to my memory of the movie, Stanley was just awkward with no friends.

Zero was my favorite character in the movie and I liked him better than the Zero in the book.  Maybe it's because we hear from Zero more often in the movie.  You know that he's not a dumb stump.  You can see that he's thinking whereas he's incredibly quiet in the book (no surprise) but he doesn't look like he has anything going on in his head.  This is according to Stanley's perspective, of course, but I'd still like Zero to have more credit than he gets.

I really liked that there are three story lines going on here-- one with Stanley at Camp Green Lake, one with Kate Barlow and Sam, and another with Stanley's distant relative and Madame Zeroni.  The only issue that I had with Kate and Sam's story was that I was really confused about when this was occurring.  One of the people Kate knew (and hated) had a boat with a motor on it, but it sounds like coaches were still used to get around as well as carts pulled by animals.  Maybe this was a western area turning to technology, or this town was not up to speed with the technology used in other towns, but there wasn't really an indication of any of these things... I wish that I had been given more information.

This year, while this isn't a goal of mine indicated on the challenges post I made at the beginning of this year, I want to read more books intended for middle school readers.  I'd consider this to be a middle school book.  It's possible that in my future, I will teach at the middle school level and I want to prepare myself for anything.  I'm excited for this!

If you're looking for a relatively quick and engaging read, Holes would be a good choice.

I give Holes:
Thanks for Reading!


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