The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
Written in deceptively simple prose, Holes is a carefully-plotted, quirkily funny tale of an innocent who triumphs over tyranny and corruption.
Stanley Yelnats, accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit, is sent to Camp Greenlake, a detention centre built on a dried up lake in the middle of nowhere. Every day the inmates have to dig holes under the blistering sun. They don't know it, but they are part of the warden's life-long search for treasure buried by a famous female outlaw.
Stanley forms a friendship with a boy nicknamed Zero, whom, he agrees to teach to read and write. When Zero cracks and flees from the camp, Stanley decides to go after him. Nobody bothers to pursue them because there's no water for miles in all directions. At least that's what everyone believes.
Stanley's experience, as an inmate, as a fugitive, and above all, as a friend, transforms his life and at the same time lifts a curse that has dogged his family for generations.
Lots of people whose opinions I respect consider this to be one of the best children's books they have read. I didn't find it that engaging. It's funny, clever and there's a kind of understated existentialism about the writing that I liked. Nevertheless, it didn't completely grip me. Perhaps because it is too much like a fable for my taste.