Monday, December 31, 2012

Books & movies

Our brother and sister dynamic duo, Melissa and Brian, both completed the challenge. They're not comfortable posting, but Brian said I could publish their recommendations.

Lost Empire by Clive Cussler-  Occasionally over descriptive but a good action mystery. Plus you learn things.

Action Philosophers- Plato Smash. Cartooned Philosophy, entertaining.

What Color is Your Parachute?- Read the second half first. Possibly helpful if you have no direction in life.

The Bartimaeous Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud- Recommended by Rachelle. Rerecomended by Brian and Melissa. Listen to the Audio Book, the reader is excellent.

Poems by Robert Frost- Very good writer, more versatile than originally known.

ABC's of Relativity: Understanding Einstein by Bertrand Russell-  Occasionally technical but entertaining and educational.

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde- Laugh riot.

Lost in a Good Book and Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde- Recommended by Heather. Quick but highly entertaining.

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov- Entertaining and unique perspective.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick- Read the book don't watch the movie(Hugo). Very quick (despite being over 500 pages) told half in pictures half in words.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley- Recommended by Heather

King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard- Keep reading it gets better.

Murder at Bridge by Anne Austin

The Murderer by Ray Bradbury (Short)- Just read or listen to it.

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman (Short)-  Read pdf, looks like a newspaper, with adds, interesting point of view.

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan- Book 2 in a series (read book 1 first).  If you like the Percy Jackson series, the books not the movie, you'll like it. This one is Egyptian rather then Greek based.

The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket- 2nd in the series

The Hunger Games- If you like that stuff.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

Old Man's War by John Scalzi- Scifi, first in a series (worth reading them all), author with humor.  If you don't like scifi, not for you.

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan- see Throne of Fire except Greek and Roman mythology.  2nd book in a different series.

Ready Player One- 80's pop culture nostalgia

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- If you haven't read it yet.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne- a pleasant late 1800's romp.

Above Suspicion- Predictable and sappy but enjoyable.

Are You Ready for the End of The World (Short)- Scifi short story with a funny twist.

The Book Thief- recommended by a sister

Stranger than Fiction- Quite possibly the best Will Farrell Movie.

Winnie the Pooh ~2011

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra- don't think, just watch .

Waking Sleeping Beauty- Insightful Documentary into the 1990s Disney golden age of animation.

Pirates: Band of Misfits

Apollo 18- scifi, suspense. 

A Monster in Paris- French but the dub is good.

Avengers- for the .001% who hasn't seen it, they should.

Sherlock season 2-  Don't have to watch season one, though you should especially if you don't want episode one to ruin the first season.  Only 3 episodes but work it.

Johnny English Reborn-  turn off brain and enjoy.


Castle in the Sky-  you should see all Miyazaki films

Metropolis~ 2002- animated.

Atomic Mom- documentary, definitely not for everyone.  About the atomic project in the Navy and the bombing in Japan.  Some archival footage that is not for everyone.

Hidden Fortress- Japanese subtitled.  If you are a film person.

Rear Window-  Everyone should watch more Hitchcock.

Get Smart season 1- Original series that everyone should see, but don't marathon it.

Wallace and Gromit- All are a must see.  Of note is World of Invention.  Cleverly disguised educational material.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol- Director Brad Bird (Incredibles, Iron Giant).

Some Like it Hot- classic worth a watch.

Men in Black 3- better than 2.

Haywire- Action a la Bourne.

The Amazing Spiderman- not the best super hero movie, but good.

Fanboys- Watch it once and done if you want a glimpse into uber geek culture.

The Man Who Knew Too Little- Hitchcock (the Man Who Knew Too Much with Bill Murray is a comedy based on this.)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A few random movies

I've been trying to catch up on my movie watching over the holidays and have seen a rather random assortment of films.

The Prince of Egypt. I decided to watch this because I wanted to hear Brian Stokes Mitchell sing "Through Heaven's Eyes." It was an animated movie about Moses. Not my favorite, but it was not bad. The best part (other than BSM's song) was the plagues. That was very well done.

Bye, Bye Birdie. This was the original movie from 1963 with Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh and Ann-Margaret. Rock star Conrad Birdie is drafted, and as part of his farewell performance, he kisses one of his fans. I think it was a parody of Elvis hysteria. Mostly, I thought it was lame. The songs weren't even very good.

Arsenic and Old Lace. This is a Frank Capra Halloween movie. It's a strange mix of comedy and murder. A man (Cary Grant) figures out that his aunts have been murdering lonely men. His brother is crazy and thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. The aunts trick him into digging the Panama Canal in the basement and burying all the "yellow fever" victims there. Then a third brother shows up, a murderer, and he looks like Boris Karloff. It's ridiculous, but Cary Grant is really good.

Mission: Impossible III. Action, explosions, Tom Cruise. Need I say more? Yes, it was directed by J.J. Abrams, and at the very end of the credits (for all of you who were paying attention) there is a Lost reference.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. A beautiful movie, although not as good as The Lord of the Rings. The fate of middle earth is not at stake, so it doesn't feel as important, if that makes sense. I need to see it again because there is too  much to take in during just one viewing. The casting and acting were good, and by the end I really enjoyed it.

Lincoln. I LOVED this movie. It was perfect. I was nearly in tears several times. It's the story of the passage of the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery. All the acting was excellent, and it was well written. I thought the way they handled Lee's surrender and Lincoln's assassination were very interesting and unusual. Daniel Day-Lewis was great. I particularly liked the way he walked. It's just how I imagine Lincoln would have walked.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

War and Peace

I wasn't really interested in reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but if I wanted to be a "well read" person, then I needed to know this book. So, I decided to use my hour-long commute wisely, and listen to an audio version of the book. This had the additional benefit of preventing me from trying to read a magazine or do anything else that would make me motion sick on the train. The disadvantage is that, I don't know how to spell any of the characters' names.

War and Peace is intimidating. It's one of the longest novels ever written. My concern was keeping all the characters strait. There were many characters, both major and minor, and new ones were introduced throughout the book. Each of them have a given name, a surname, a patronymic, a nickname, some are called by their French name at times, their Russian name at others. I did do myself the favor of looking up a list of the characters shortly after beginning the novel, as I thought seeing them visually would help me sort them out. But once that hurdle was crossed, the novel is very readable and not difficult to understand. As a matter of fact, Tolstoy frequently tells you exactly what you should think and feel by the way he describes the characters' appearances and thoughts. One character in particular was always looking at people with his "cruel eyes." I didn't like him.

War and Peace covers Russia's wars with Napoleon between 1805 and 1812 (although the epilogue takes the reader to a few years later). Our main characters are members of the Russian nobility. Pierre (it was fashionable then for the nobility to speak French)  is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count. He's intelligent, emotionally sincere, doesn't look down on anybody, and is a bit spineless. Pierre becomes wealthy and legitimate upon receiving a title and inheritance upon his father's death. Prince Andre is from a wealthy family, a good man, intelligent, and completely ruled by reason. The Rostov family are good people in financial decline.

Some of the major themes of the book explore the meaning and purpose of life, how wars and great events come to pass and how historians interpret them, power, and free will. The meaning and purpose of life are primarily explored through the lives of Pierre and Andre, and both characters are transformed for the better over the course of the novel. They were my favorite characters. Tolstoy studied many historical accounts of the Napoleonic wars before writing this novel, and he clearly had no use for historical interpretations of the war or anything else. The historians maintained that the "great" and "powerful" men of the age -- Napoleon, Czar Alexander, the generals, brought about the wars. But that is not the case, according to Tolstoy. The wars were inevitable because all the innumerable decisions made by individuals as they interacted with one another. When I tried to explain it to my dad, he told me this was called "self organization." Tolstoy does a beautiful job of explaining the characters' motivations, and very often those motivations were not honorable or selfless or for the love of Mother Russia. This was all evidence that what we think of as "power" is not real and only exists in our relationships to one another. There were thousands of commands given by generals and powerful people that were not carried out because they could not be carried out. And, there is no such thing as pure free will because every action is caused by something else. An individual doesn't do something just because one day he decides to do it. Something else made him think he wanted to do it or should do it. All of these causes and effects made the wars and their outcomes inevitable regardless of what anyone wanted or intended.

Tolstoy covered a lot of ground in this novel. I loved the character development, and he did a good job of making me feel exactly as I was supposed to feel. During a few chapters, three characters died in quick succession. They were very sad chapters, but Tolstoy conveyed it all beautifully. In one case we see the final transformation of one of the characters and are able to let him go. In another case, we see the waste of a young life for no good reason. In the third case, while we like the character and are said to see him executed, it is the effect this has on Pierre that is described so perfectly.

I enjoyed this book. There were times when it was a little slow, and Tolstoy really belabored his explanations of his views on things. I wish the character of Sonya had gotten a better ending. But, I guess novels become classics of world literature for a reason, and this one is very deserving.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Three Poet Laureates

I'm always trying to read poetry (at least one poem a day) and increase my knowledge of contemporary poets. So I thought reading the work of a few poet laureates of the United States would be a good place to start.

Philip Levine's term recently ended. I caught the tail-end of his presentation at the National Book Festival, and became interested in reading some of his work. I selected What Work is, for no particular reason. I think I need to read a few more of his poems to get a better feel for his work. I thought he had very vivid imagery.

Ted Kooser was selected as poet laureate when I was in graduate school. At the time, I was taking a course that was run as a writers workshop. After the announcement the teacher went to the store and purchased one of his books. She read a couple of his poems to us at our next class. I always remembered that even though it took me several years to purchase one of his books. I chose Valentines because it's available on my Nook. Each year, from 1986 until 2007 Kooser wrote a poem for Valentine's Day and mailed it to an ever-growing list of women. He had to give it up because postage to mail postcards to 2,600 women was way too expensive. This book is a collection of those poems. Generally, these are not mushy romantic poems. The poems are not difficult or full of obscure references. They're all short, so it's a good place to start if you fear poetry. I loved this collection. I wanted to read more immediately, but unfortunately, there weren't any available at the time (on my e-reader, as it was at night when I finished). I asked for some other Kooser books for Christmas, so I'm reading one right now. Ted Kooser is my favorite of the poets I've been reading.

This first book I read with Billy Collins's name on the cover only had one or two poems by him in it. As part of his work as poet laureate he created a website and program called Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools. The poems were to be short, modern, and accessible. The idea was to take away the threat and return the enjoyment to poetry and make it a part of everyday life. He collected these poems into a book called Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. When I found a copy at a book fair, it seemed like a perfect way to increase my knowledge of contemporary poets. It does have excellent, short, accessible poems in it. My copy has a least a dozen strips of paper sticking out of it marking poems I especially liked. This book has a sequel that I will be purchasing.

I also read The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins. I picked it just because of the title. It is another collection with some beautiful poems. I don't feel like there was anything threatening about any of the poems here. Just words and images strung together the way they're supposed to be.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Obert Skye

I love Obert Skye. He combines humor, adventure, imagination into excellent stories.

I finally finished reading the Pillagy or the Pillage Trilogy in which Beck Phillips moves to the small town of Kingsplot to live with a strange relative. In Pillage (which I read a few years ago), Beck discovers he has a gift for making things grow, and this includes dragons. Beck's family is both gifted and cursed much to the detriment of the people and buildings of Kingsplot. In Choke, not having learned his lesson, Beck grows a dragon queen, whom he names Lizzy. It's amazing at first, but once Lizzy gets a taste for pillaging, there is only one way to stop her. In Ambush, the plants around Kingsplot appear to be in open rebellion against Beck. Between pressure from them and his father, who is locked up in a mental hospital, Beck decides to plant the last stone which he knows will hatch a dragon king. Beck lies to his friends and is gradually descending into the madness that afflicts all the men in his family. Can Beck overcome the family curse? Can he save his father, his friends and himself?

These are fun books. Skye is good at mixing intensity with humor. It's enjoyable to see how Beck's character changes over the course of this series. These books involve a lot of pillaging and dragon death, so beware.

Beyond Foo

These books pick up where the Leven Thumps series (which was awesome) left off. You don't really need to have read Leven Thumps to enjoy these books, but you'll appreciate the characters more if you do. The first is Geth and the Return of the Lithens. Geth (a lithen) and Clover (a Sycophant whose job it is to ease the transition of humans who've been snatched into Foo) are kidnapped and taken across the hidden border from Foo to Zendor. And evil human named Payt has taken over and terrorized Zendor by controlling its inhabitants (mostly dreams that have come to life) with the sound of his voice. Geth and Clover are trying to help the people of Zendor fight the tyranny of Payt, even though the people have given up hope. Along the way they save Geth's brother Zale and Clover tames a Tangle. The second book is Geth and the Deception of Dreams. Geth and Clover and their new allies in Zendor search for the wise man Lars who is supposed to be able to help them defeat Payt. As usual, things don't work out like they're supposed to. Among other amusing things in the books is that Geth is really good looking and all the women are constantly trying to get close to him. It made me chuckle a few times.

I guess this series is a trilogy, and book three isn't out yet. Bummer. I enjoyed the stories, but they really felt like parts of one book rather than separate books in a series. I was really annoyed at where the first book ended, but I was much more satisfied at the cliffhanger ending the second. And it looks like were're going to see Leven and Winter and Lilly and Phoebe from the Leven Thumps books. I'm looking forward to it.

A few random reads

I read The Red Pyramid, first in The Kane Chronicles, by Rick Riordan. Carter and Sadie are brother and sister even though they were raised apart and hardly know each other. On one particularly exciting visit to the British Museum they discover they are from a family of Egyptian magicians, and they are descended from pharaohs. Their father, releases some gods, which then inhabit the bodies of Carter and Sadie who must learn to control the gods and develop their own magical powers whiles saving the world from Set and other evil forces. A fun introduction to Egyptian mythology. I thought Sadie's "Britishness" was a little bit forced, but still an enjoyable book.

Work on Purpose is by Lara Galinsky of Echoing Green which provides funding to social entrepreneurs. The book is about using your passion and your skills and knowledge to find the work you should do.

How to be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World - at No Cost! by Nicole Bouchard Bolee. These are just everyday actions and resources available to everyone who wants to make a positive difference in the world. I don't think any of these things really make a difference on a large scale, but sometimes the most important thing is to change yourself and your perspective and attitude. The suggestions in this book help with that.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. I was looking forward to this because Selznick has written and/or illustrated some of my favorite children's books. This is a quick read; even though it's 600 pages long, most of them are illustrations. It alternates between the stories of Brian (in text) and Rose (in illustrations). Both are deaf and living 50 years apart. They both run away in search of a place to belong and end up in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I didn't find the back and forth between the two stories confusing. The stories were similar and clearly related in some way, and in fact were tied together by the end of the book. I found it to be a little predictable and too simple, maybe (I'm not sure if that is the correct word). I suspect children reading it would not have the same issues that I did. While it's nowhere near as good as The Invention of Hugo Cabret, it was still an enjoyable story and worth reading.

M T Anderson

I really like M T Anderson. Not because I really like all his books, but because he expects a lot from his readers. He writes for children and teenagers, but he never talks down to them. Recently, I've read several of his books.

Burger Wuss. This is satire, similar in feel to Anderson's Feed, except that this is way more annoying and considerably less creepy. With the backdrop of a rivalry between burger chains, O'Dermott's and Burger Queen, Anthony, a "nice" guy, seeks revenge when he catches his girlfriend making out with another guy. He spends the rest of the novel trying to be an idiot and a jerk like most of the rest of the people in the book. I guess it was written well, because the characters really got on my nerves.

The Norumbegan Quartet

This series begins with The Game of Sunken Places, which I read a few years ago, in which Brian and Gregory are tricked into playing a game to decide a territorial dispute between the Norumbegans and the Thusser Horde. The Thussers are looking to invade earth and feed off the dreams of people.

In book two, The Suburb Beyond the Stars, the Thussers try to assassinate Brian who is constructing the next round of the game. Gregory's cousin has disappeared and when Brian and Gregory go to Vermont to look for her they discover that time has gone crazy and the Thussers have broken the rules of the game.

In book three, The Empire of Gut and Bone, Brian and Gregory escape the invading Thusser Horde and find themselves in the Great Body where the Norumbegans have set up New Norumbega. The boys want the Norumbegans to help defeat the Thusser. This novel is clearly a satire and my favorite of the series. The Norumbegans have become lazy and cruel especially to the mechanical people who used to serve them, but have now deserted.

In book four, The Chamber in the Sky, Brian and Gregory must find a way to call the rules keepers to enforce the rules of the game, avoid being killed by unhelpful Norumbegans and escape from the Thusser.

This is an excellent series, part adventure, part satire, part fantasy. But it's also about growing up and growing apart.

Pals in Peril

This is a middle grade series that is goofy, fun, imaginative and a bit of a spoof. It follows the adventures of Lily Gefelty, just a normal girl, Katie Mulligan, star of the "Horror Hollow" series, and Jasper Dash, boy technonaut, who also had his own series of books decades ago. I read the third and fourth books in the series. These two should be read in order, but you don't need to have read the first two books before these (although they are fun too). The two books are Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware in which our heroes must save the monks of Vbngoom and stolen museum artifacts from the agents of the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro. And you thought there were only outlet malls and financial services companies in Delaware. In Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger, the monks are trying to help our heroes escape the Autarch's Ministry of Silence and make it safely to the New Jersey border. These books are a lot of fun with humor both kids and adults will appreciate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I saw SkyFall last week and I thought it was really good. It was a little long but Daniel Craig is so attractive so it's definitely worth it! I also thought the villain (Javier Bardem) was very talented. I recommend it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Big in Japan, Ann Rinaldi books, Jane Austen Ruined My Life

It's been a while since I've posted and I have a lot to catch up on, but I will just do the highlights of my reading and watching.

A few months ago I won the contest we had on this blog and so received a copy of the book Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith.  I read it and loved it!  It was well-written and it had me hooked from page one.  I didn't know much about sumo wrestling before I read this book and I didn't realize how intense their rules and training are and the push to be the best.  It was fascinating. This story is about an obese American boy who goes to Japan with his parents and the Japanese think he's a sumo wrestler (or that he should be if he isn't already). It's the story of this boy as he strives to fit in to the sumo world and keep his honor. I highly recommend this book!

I also have read Or Give Me Death and Wolf by the Ears and A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi. Ann Rinaldi is a historical fiction writer for young adults.  My roommate recommended these books to me and I really like them!  Ann Rinaldi does her research for her books and puts as much fact into them as she can and then makes up the rest.  These books are entertaining and a good way to learn about historical events. At the end of each of the books, she tells us which parts of the stories are true. I definitely recommend these books! 

I recently finished Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo and really liked it!  It was funny, cute, and clean.   I liked it and may or may not have spent my Sunday morning before church reading this book ;)

Some other books I read and enjoyed:
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Burying Our Swords by Kevin Hinckley
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

That is all for my books. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Panama Canal

Ships waiting to enter the canal.
In honor of a cruise I took in October that transited the Panama Canal, I decided to read The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914. This book was written by David McCullough in the late 1970s, but it is still an excellent source for information about the construction and history of the Panama Canal.
Tugs coming out to meet the ship.

Entering Gatun Locks
I don't think most of us appreciate what an amazing achievement the construction of the Panama Canal was. McCullough begins with the expeditions and plans made with construction of the canal in mind. He then moves on to Ferdinand de Lesseps who was the Frenchman behind the Suez Canal. He thought he could have the same success building a sea level canal in Panama. He was wrong, and it cost much in money, material, and lives and ended in failure. The Americans later acknowledged how much good work the French had done.

See the rowboat?
The second half of the book is on the American effort to build the canal. It features such people as Theodore Roosevelt, George Goethals, William Gorgas, Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla who figured in the story almost from the beginning, and many others just as important. In addition, there were thousands of nameless laborers and army men who contributed to the effort. Initially, the Americans planned to build the canal in Nicaragua (According to a tour guide in Costa Rica, Nicaragua is currently attempting to steal land from Costa Rica to build its own canal. Costa Rica has taken Nicaragua to international court.), but through political intrigue and a bloodless coup, the site of the French canal was chosen.

Entering Gatun Lake

The canal itself is amazing. It is almost 50 miles long and takes about 12 hours to cross. We sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Gatun Locks consist of three chambers that take ships by steps up to the level of Gatun Lake. Ships then sail through the canal, including the narrowest part (and most difficult to construct) the Culebra Cut to Pedro Miguel lock which consists of a single chamber that takes the ship down one step closer to sea level. The last set of locks are at Miraflores and consist of two chambers that bring the ship back to sea level. While sailing through the canal ships pass islands that used to be the tops of mountains which were flooded after the building dams to form the canal and control the river and tides. One of these islands is Barro Colorado which is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It's possible that I've simplified this to the point of barely being accurate; please read the book (and sail through the canal!) for more details.

Here is a description of the lock chambers from page 550-551 (Nook version):
The walls, one thousand feet long, rose to eighty-one feet, or higher than a six-story building. The impression was of looking down a broad, level street nearly five blocks long with a solid wall of six-story buildings on either side; only here there were no windows or doorways, nothing to give human scale. . . A single lock if stood on end would have been the tallest structure in the world, taller even than the Eiffel Tower. . . The lock chambers all had the same dimensions (110 by 1,000 feet) and they were built in pairs, two chambers running side by side in order to accommodate two lanes of traffic. . . The chambers in each pair shared a center wall that was sixty feet wide from bottom to top.

Beautiful scenery
In the Culebra Cut.
No force is used to raise and lower the ships in the chambers except gravity. Water flows into the chambers from above or out to the sea below. And it only takes about ten minutes to fill and empty the chambers. Ships are pulled through the chambers by electric locomotives called mules. To attach the ships to the mules, linemen throw the ropes to men in a rowboat!

The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of engineering. It cost many lives, made and ruined careers, and ended up costing the Americans less money than estimated in 1907. (page 570) It was a successful partnership of private enterprise and the government without corruption or graft. (page 571)

The canal is constantly being dredged.

Water drains from the Pedro Miguel lock.

There was only two feet on either side between the ship and the chamber wall.

The mule and the lines attached to the ship.

Crocodiles aren't charged a toll
A fun story: the record for the lowest toll paid is held by Richard Halliburton who was allowed to swim through the canal, including the locks. Tolls are based on weight, so he paid 36 cents. (page 572)

Leaving the canal

Panama City
This is an excellent and informative book and a wonderful companion to take along when sailing through the canal.

Jimmy Fincher

I began reading the Jimmy Fincher Saga while on vacation. I think the author, James Dashner, is great, and the books seemed like they could be good cruise reading. There are four books: A Door in the Woods, A Gift of Ice, The Tower of Air, and War of the Black Curtain.

The books follow the adventures of 14-year-old Jimmy and his family and friends as they fight to save the world from the invasion of the Stompers, who are literally our worst nightmares. One summer day in Georgia, Jimmy climbs a tree and witnesses a crime. This leads him through a door in the woods and into a world of magic and crime that his family hoped they'd left behind. With the help of the Givers, Jimmy receives four gifts he will need to defeat the Stompers and save the world. Fortunately for Jimmy, the first gift grants him indestructibility.

I enjoyed these books. Dashner is a good story teller. I liked the ending of the series. I didn't see it coming although it was foreshadowed early in the story. It's not a typical ending for a series of childrens' books. It has echoes of the Atonement. In the end the story is one of coming of age in a fight between good and evil. The stories are filled with magic, monsters, dreams, other worlds, and the Alliance who are willing to sacrifice everything to help Jimmy defeat the Stompers.

The books delve a lot into the nature of sacrifice and what we are willing to give up to meet our goals. These books are worth the read.