Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

This was a very fun book, and as usual, it was much better than the movie.  Reading this book reminded of the movie “A Knight’s Tale.”  My mother-in-law hates that movie because it is historically inaccurate.  It takes place in the 1370’s but has the crowd at jousting tournaments chanting “We Will Rock You” by Queen.  The movie does an excellent job at making us feel what the people felt back then.  They were excited! I’ll even bet the music was probably loud and rebellious for their time.

That is how Percy Jackson makes me feel about Greek/Roman Mythology – it brings it all to life.  It makes it modern; it makes the gods, the titans, the demi-gods – all real.  It makes the stories fun and relevant.  When I was in grade school and we watched “The Clash of the Titans” I only thought it was cool because there were swords and blood.  I didn’t understand the story, the villains weren’t really that scary, and the hero wasn’t inspirational – it was just a REALLY REALLY old story being told in an old black and white movie.  This book changes all that.  It weaves a new tale into the classic mythology.  It makes the gods and their personalities and passions modern and real.  It makes it exciting and fun – and it makes you want to learn more.  I admit – when I finished the book, I went straight to Wikipedia to look up the different gods and see who was related to whom, why they were rivals, who killed who, etc…  I was completely enthralled in the world of Greek mythology.

It’s a great book:  It’s clean, it’s fun, and it makes you want more.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Book Review: The Five People You Meet In Heaven – by Mitch Albom

Oddly enough – I was slightly disappointed when I read this book.  I read Mitch Albom’s other famous book Tuesday’s with Morrie first, and absolutely loved it.  When I read this story, it just wasn’t as good.  It was certainly thought provoking.  The twists and turns as you read are unexpected and intriguing.  The book explains one view of what heaven might be like, and how we might come to see our life differently from another person’s point of view.  Five different points of view actually – from five people who can explain a moment or part of our life in a way we had never thought before.  Four of the people’s stories made sense to me, but my problem was with the third person – Ruby.

The story starts with Eddie’s death – then his journey with 5 people to explain the meaning of moments in his life.  When Albom writes the chapter about Ruby, he decides to throw in the story of Eddie’s Dad.  But Ruby never met Eddie’s dad, and having both these stories tied together in the same chapter was a bit of a stretch.  For me it didn’t work – he should have either omitted one of the stories, or called the book instead “The SIX People You Meet in Heaven.”  

My other problem was that it’s a little too simple.  5 people – and that’s all you really need to learn about your life before you set up your own version of heaven.

Yes the story is fascinating.  The characters are well described, and the writing makes you want to keep reading – you’ll easily finish the book in a day or two because you’ll want to finish it.

But it’s not as “AMAZING” or life changing as people had said.  I may be slightly biased having just read Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol.  I think that story does a much better job, with three spirits, of taking a man through his life and showing him things he had forgotten or never realized.

SO – my advice: Read “The Five People,” then read “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and then read “A Christmas Carol”