Have you read the book Holes? Seen the fabulous movie of the same name, starring the enormously talented Shia LaBeouf? If not, read it! If not, see it! If so, then you can stop there with Louis Sachar and his Camp Green Lake characters.
Small Steps follows Armpit and X-Ray, two of Stanley Yelnats’ fellow Camp Green Lake detainees from Holes, and tells their story after release from their sentences served. Both on probation and living in Austin, Armpit is trying to get his life back together, while X-Ray falls back on his criminal ways. The book isn’t a sequel of Holes, in fact it doesn’t even mention Stanley by name. I suppose it can best be described as a spin-off.
The book is a quick read, mostly predictable, and has NONE of the magic and charm of Holes. It involves an unbelievable plotline involving a famous teen music sensation, and includes a very odd and misplaced murder mystery near the very end. Speaking of the end, the book is pretty “blah” 3/4 of the way through – pretty harmless, and as I said, predictable – and then the author throws in some intense violence that makes you think “What just happened here?”. If that was an attempt at a big “twist,” then I don’t buy it. In order for a twist to be successful, it must still be within the confines of the story, a possibility that no one really saw coming, but once you see it you think “why didn’t I see that coming!”.
I’m not sure what Sachar’s motivation was for writing this book, and I’m curious to know if there are others coming. The end of this book leaves things wide open for more story on Armpit, but as for me, I’d like to get back to Stanley, and back to the clever, magical, unique world of Holes.
*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links included.