"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
I read this for the first time back around 2003. Then I re-read it for my book club just recently. I figured that I wouldn't remember much in the 12 years between, but the plot and characters remained surprisingly vivid -- perhaps because they had been reinforced by watching the movie, which follows the book closely and which is excellent. (I gave the book four stars but the movie five, making this a rare case where the movie might have been better than the book -- but it's more that the movie does an exceptional job of capturing the essence of the book. But I digress.)
I think I enjoyed this book more the first time through because it was so interesting to see how everything fit together. Without that mystery, the second read didn't have as much to compel me -- although this is one of those books that I think is more than meets the eye. On the surface, it's got lots of kid appeal -- a somewhat shifty juvenile camp, a treasure hunt, an ancient curse, poisonous lizards -- but an adult reader senses that there might be something MORE going on under the surface. Although it's an "easy" and "quick" read, it is as intricately plotted in its own way as an epic fantasy. Every piece fits together just right, and I'm really amazed at the author's ability to take seemingly disparate threads and weave them together. The magical realism is just enough to make you feel something strange is going on, but not strong enough to tip it into fantasy territory. It strikes a nice balance between story, theme, and character -- and Sachar is a good writer to boot. All in all, a book that is worthy of all the praise it has garnered.