Most compelling stories contain some sort of "heroic" epic, in which the audience follows the protaganist's symbolic physical journey through actual growth and change. In Holes, we follow the unlikely Stanley Yelnats.

In a style that suggests the Yorgason brothers (complete with periodic flashbacks), Sachar keeps the narrative fresh, inviting, and a bit unpredictable. Some of the plot twists are "guessable," but in the end, everything ties up in a comforting sort of way.

I read this book without having seen the movie, which is generally the way I prefer it. When I imagine characters in my mind while reading, I don't really give them a face. Since movies are intensely visual, appearance is emphasized, and characters easily become one-dimensional caricatures. Holes has some over-the-top personalities, but Sachar knows how to rein them in before things get too ridiculous.

I'm sure if I thought about it long enough, I could come up with some sort of moral or social message, but I read it because it sounded like a fun book to read, and in my opinion, it was.