Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book review--7 Men, by Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas' new book, Seven Men, and the Secret of their Greatness, is designed for the audience of his two best-known books, biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce. "Seven Men" contains 7 mini-biographies of those two, plus George Washington, Chuck Colson, Jackie Robinson, Eric Liddell, and Pope John Paul II.  The length of each subject's story (20-36 pages) will make this book appeal  to many of those readers who want to know about someone's life without going into the kind of details found in full-length biographies which typically only are appreciated by enthusiastic fans and historians.

Although this book is intended for adults, the brevity of each bio makes it perfect for teens and preteens. My 11-yr-old son enjoyed it as much as I did. More important than the stories themselves, especially when it's being read by a boy about to become a man, is the theme which binds the 7 stories together: that the world needs courageous men, willing to sacrifice their own comfort and reputations in order to make positive change in the world.

And while this theme is implicit in the 7 chapters, it's explicit in the introduction. Metaxas opens the book with a 14-page explanation of what true manhood is, and like the main body of the book, it's written in such a way that my kid can clearly grasp the message, one that needs to be heard by his generation.

As for the 7 stories themselves, they are well-told. This book reads well, and I recommend it for the 7 stories of the seven heroic figures, and also for the introduction.

(I received this book for free as part of the Booksneeze book review program. I offer an honest review and in return get to keep my copy of the book.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Am Legend: Someone Please Help Me Understand

I recently watched "I Am Legend" for the first time in a couple of years, and the 2nd time ever. I'm not a big zombie-movie guy, but this one is different. My first time watching this film left me satisfied with the notion that I had seen a well-thought-out, intelligent movie, not afraid to pull punches nor to explore important topics that go way beyond typical zombie/apocalyptic movie fare.

The second go-round, though, was disappointing. I noticed plot holes so blaring, so huge, they could not be ignored. I was left with an uneasy feeling that I had been duped the first time around, tricked into thinking I was watching something thought-provoking and cleverly put-together.

I'm holding out hope that the incongruencies I observed were based on some misunderstanding on my part. That's why I am inviting you, the reader, to help explain to me those items which are troubling me, and to assure me that the "I Am Legend" plot is not as full of holes as it appears. I really don't mind being corrected on this one.

1. In the scene where Robert (Will Smith) wakes up from hanging by one leg because he stepped into that trap, the zombies, accompanied by zombie dogs, are viewing the goings-on from the shadows, because there's still a sliver of sunlight left. Then the sunlight goes away, and the dogs come out, in full attack mode. But the non-dog zombies, who were right there with the dogs, did not come out and attack Robert. Why? Didn't the absence of sunlight open up a window of opportunity for them just like it did their pets?

2. In flashbacks, we are told that the government tried to contain the virus to Manhattan by keeping residents on the island, and blowing up all the bridges. But late in the story, Anna comes driving up to rescue Robert, and later she drives away from the island to Vermont, in the same car. How did she get to the island and then leave the island without a bridge?

3. At the end, the safe place in Vermont is protected by walls which seem about 10-12 feet tall. Maybe 15. But the zombies demonstrated that they can climb up multi-story buildings with ease. How is that little wall going to keep them out?

4. Anna saves Robert by shining her headlights, not real sunlight, on the zombies. So they obviously cannot stand artificial light. But when they invade his apartment, and go down to his lab, they have no problem being in a well-lit room.

5. Before Robert blows himself up, he tells Anna to stay in the little cubby-hole till dawn. What good will that do if they are inside?

6. The zombies are able to figure out where he lives when they follow Anna home, but why didn't they follow him home the previous day, when they had Robert hanging and attacked his dog? That occurred right at sundown.

I guess these will do for now. Somebody tell me the error of my ways, and restore my faith in "I Am Legend."