Book: Guy Burt, Published in 1993 (original title After The Hole) | Find it on Amazon
Film: Dir. Nick Hamm (2001), Cert. 15 | Find it on Amazon
In this psychological thriller a group of six teens, led by prankster Martyn, hatch a plan to hide away in an abandoned cellar to avoid attending a school trip. The idea is simple, the teens head down to the cellar and in three days time Martyn will come back and let them out. So, when three days have passed and there is no sign of Martyn the story becomes one of survival. What has happened to Martyn and will the group make it out alive?
Our narrator is Liz, who intertwines the events inside the hole with snippets of ‘interviews’ with Lisa, an ex-girlfriend of Martyn’s whom she is talking to whilst turning her experience of the hole into a novel. Aside from Martyn and Liz the other characters in this short novel aren’t really explored in much depth. Personally I didn’t feel like this was an issue in telling the story however through the film adaptation we get a better feel for the other members of the group. Although still focused on and narrated by Liz the film also shows a different perspective on the other characters, whether a reliable one or not, by giving them more defined roles.
Despite the low page count I found the book took longer to read than I would have expected due to the slightly confusing and disconnected format. Although it may seem unnecessary at first do persevere, the further you delve into the book the more you will realise that this format and pacing is crucial to concealing the ending of the story. The final chapters of the book are the most engaging, when everything starts to fall into place.
Overall the concept of Martyn’s character and the tone of Liz’s viewpoint make The Hole a unique, sinister and clever debut novel worth picking up. I would also recommend watching the film adaptation, a memorable story in it’s own right.
3.5/5 Halloween pumpkins