Book Review · Reading Challenges

48HBC – League of Strays by L B Schulman and Holes by Louis Sachar.

Another two books read bringing my totals to 10 books, 2,821 pages and 14 hours 15 minutes reading time.

League of Strays by L B Schulman. Amulet.
LeagueOfStraysWhen a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

When I first saw the cover of this book I liked it, but as time went on and I thought longer about it I liked it less and less – particularly the rather sinister appearance of the hold the boy has the girl in. This turned out to pretty much mirror my reading experience, I started off thinking the book was okay but the more and more I read the less comfortable I was with what I was reading.

The theme of the plot is revenge, this group of outcasts are all drawn together to exact revenge on the individuals who have wronged them most. Unfortunately this means the group stoop to the level of, and generally even lower than, the bullies who they’re out to get. I’m completely uncomfortable with the suggestion this is an appropriate way to act, and then we come on to the characters.

The five central characters, these outcasts, are all sadly rather stereotyped. I found I couldn’t identify with them, and I certainly couldn’t support their actions. Kade, the ringleader and lead male character is deeply disturbing, even more disturbing is the way the three girls all accept his dangerous behaviour with two of them both developing feelings for him – not the kind of relationship I want to see in any book.

I did read to the end of the book, I needed to see how it ended and whether there was anything to redeem the book. By getting to the end I think I can see what the author was aiming for (and I’ve since read a few blog posts by her that back this up) but for me it just did not work. Not one I’ll be putting on my library shelves.

Holes by Louis Sachar. Bloomsbury.
HolesStanley Yelnat’s family has a history of bad luck, so he isn’t too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a boys’ juvenile detention centre. At Camp Green Lake the boys must dig a hole a day, five feet deep, five feet across, in the dried up lake bed. The Warden claims the labour is character building, but it is a lie. Stanley must dig up the truth.

Holes is one of those books that has lurked on my “so guilty I haven’t read it” list for far too long so I knew it was going to be one of my choices this weekend. Now I’ve read it, I only wish I’d read it sooner, and then re-read it and re-read it. What a pleasing read it is, looking at the long list of awards it won I can’t say I’m remotely surprised.

The main plot following Stanley and his trials and tribulations at the juvenile work camp combined with the minor historical plot featuring Kissing Kate Barlow work so well together. I was completely gripped and felt completely invested in what was happening.

I loved every minute of this reading experience, I’ll be urging anyone I know who hasn’t read this book to give it a go.

4 thoughts on “48HBC – League of Strays by L B Schulman and Holes by Louis Sachar.

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