After having read through 2 of the Wayside School books, I was interested to see Sachar's writing style in a longer book. So, my son got Holes for Christmas, and I read it shortly after. :)
I'd seen the movie a few years back without realizing it was based on an award winning book. It's always hard to try and distance movie memories when reading a book, so I'm sure some memories tainted my reading.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I'm glad we have it in our home for the kids to read. While not as wholly whimsical as his Wayside School books, Holes is filled with great humor and wonderfully perceptive observations of people and the world.
Sachar created his characters very skillfully in just a couple of pages in each story of Wayside School. With a full novel, he was able to take that character development farther and really bring these characters to life. I was very impressed with the depth he gave to Stanley and the other characters at Camp Green Lake. I found myself very emotionally invested in the plot.
The plot itself was rooted in reality but with enough whimsical elements and crazy coincidences that it was very comical to read. I wonder if some of the "flashback" style sequences might be confusing at first. Having already seen the movie, they felt completely natural, though I do have a memory from watching the movie that reminds me that I was initially slightly confused. Still, the plot and pacing is quick and straight forward enough that I suspect any disorientation with the multiple plot lines would be quickly resolved by an average reader.
I loved the 'fairy-tale'-like elements of the story. If I have time, maybe I'll make it a project to try and parallel some of the characters from Holes with some characters from classic Grimm Fairy Tales. Could be fun. :)
Overall, Holes was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it. With all the male protagonists, it's probably more of a "boy" book, but I'm guessing girls would enjoy it as well (it does have a love story stuck in the middle for those hopeless romantics).