Sunday, April 18, 2010
Written by: Louis Sachar
Released: December 1, 1998 by Granta Books
Summary: 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 boy’s detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep.
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. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment-and redemption.
This was one of those books from childhood that I never got around to reading because I didn’t think that it would be interesting. Even after I saw the movie when it first came out, I didn’t think that the book could be that great. Happily, I came across it at the library for the last time and I caved in and after actually reading this book, I have to admit that it wasn’t all that bad.
It wasn’t as if I was missing out on anything, though, but by reading it I checked one more book off my list and I found out what everyone was raving about at the time. But I admit that it wasn’t a bad read and I read it in one sitting… ok I fell asleep in the middle, but that’s because I was tired.
Anyways, I enjoyed the character of Stanley “Caveman” Yelnats (quite a good idea for a name too) and it was nice to see him go from whiney to less whiney. I really liked the character of Zero though. I found him interesting and mysterious. It was like you could never fully figure him out. The rest of the characters… I admit that I couldn’t really keep them straight, at least when it came to the other boys in Stanley’s cabin.
The plot in this book was entertaining and easy to follow. I enjoyed how there were flashback paragraphs to fill the reader in on the historical back-story on how the “curse” began and what lead up to the lake drying up. I think that it was written in the ideal way and that if the layout had been different, the entire book would have had a different vibe to it. It also wouldn’t have appealed to as many people then and would have been a little all over the place.
Compared to the movie, I believe that I liked the book better but the movie really did help in picturing some of the characters. Sigourney Weaver as the Warden was the perfect casting in my opinion.
Overall, I’m giving this book a 5/10. Though I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it, I’m more than happy that I borrowed it from the library. Still, any young relatives of mine are going to get the recommendation to read this at least once – I really think that it would appeal better to a slightly younger audience.