While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci--clues visible for all to see--yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion--an actual secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others. In a breathless race through Paris, London, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate their every move. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory's ancient secret--and an explosive historical truth--will be lost forever.
My husband possibly enjoyed my reading of this book more than I did, because I was soon talking back to it, particularly when the Incredibly Indecipherable Riddles started showing up. "Sofia! Alexander Pope! Apple!" I shouted, and then in each case had to slog through forty pages before the Stunningly Brilliant hero and heroine figured it out ("APPLE, morons!").
This book was mind-bogglingly stupid. I had expected it to be silly and fluffy, but the scope of idiocy evident in both the writing and in the assumed audience was far more than I was ready for. Brown is blatantly, openly writing for people who don't know who Mitterrand is, or I.M. Pei, or Saint Paul, or what the Louvre pyramid looks like, or that Leonardo da Vinci wrote in mirror image -- in one scene, I kid you not, two da Vinci scholars faced with the mirror image writing can't figure out what it is. For purposes of exposition, people -- actually just the heroine -- often express ignorance about incredibly basic aspects of the Grail legend, or church history, or basically anything that anyone who's ever seen "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" would know. The heroine is nothing but an audience for the male characters' explanations, and she cries a lot. Also she is a young hot brilliant cryptographer. Who can't figure out these incredibly stupid riddles. Yeah. And the villains are crippled and albino, while the Good Guys are hunky.
It is asinine. It is unintentionally hilarious on every page. I live for the day when it gets bumped off the top slot in my librarything. No, I can't get rid of my copy - have you tried to give a copy to a used bookstore lately? And besides, I keep having to lend it out to people who won't believe me when I say just how bad it is.
Upon the first reading, I must admit I found it a bit interesting, but then I turned the final page, and there was no bibliography. No explanation of how the author became familiar with all the concepts he claimed to 'faithfully portray'. He wrote this book and pretended it was a history book, and then refused to support it in any way. And any history you can't check up on is a bad one.
He's no better than James Frey. In fact, he may be worse, since I know people who base their religious beliefs on this book, whereas Frey's only crime was wishing he was Scarface. And really, what Macho thirtysomething male doesn't seem to share that wish?
Brown had good reasons for hiding his sources, namely because they were forged by con-man Pierre Plantard and snuck into the Bibliotheque National in Paris. The artistic 'iconography' is also completely made-up, and was declared ludicrous by an art history professor of my acquaintance.
The rest of Brown's book is filled with the sort of cliched religious conspiracies you get from your first year as a theology student. Not only that, but these conspiracies were already explored by better writers in 'Foucault's Pendulum' and the earlier 'Illuminatus! Trilogy'.
Well, I've already done more legitimate historical research on this review than Brown did in his whole book, so I guess I'll call it a day.
The author clearly sees himself in the role of the protaganist. He wants to think of himself as an academic, and his book as some kind of thesis. But the truth is that with the lack of critical thinking presented to us in this novel, Brown would not find himself so much as portering job in any respectable academic institution.
Controversy sells. I read this book because someone said "with all the fuss about it there must be something in it". This book demonstrates ably the fallacy of that way of thinking. Despite all the fuss about this book, it really has no merit whatsoever. Possibly the worst book I ever read.
Hula hoops, pet rocks, and TDC.
Here's your book synopsis: stock characters, 4-page chapters (each ending with a "cliffhanger"), Tickle-me-Elmo-level puzzle difficulty, some hokey mysticism, patriarchal nonsense, sexual repression, and link the whole thing to religion and you've got yourself a best seller.
Personally, I think it's the 4-page chapters that did it. This is the beach book for the ADD generation.
If you're going to get into the grail mythology, do yourself a favor and go for Foucalt's Pendulum before diving into this pabulum. If you're just in it for an easy read, it's a fine selection, but no different than the thousands lining supermarket shelves across the US.
For me the book started off well. I was lured into itsâ€™ intrigue and enjoyed the ambience that was created by the booksâ€™ setting and artistic backdrop. But after the first couple of chapters my concentration wavered as I became increasingly disappointed by the predictable plot. For a book that is described as a brain-teaser and a page-turner with endless twists and turns, I felt incredibly let down. Letâ€™s be honest â€“ do we really need a world-class cryptographer to recognise a Fibonacci sequence? Last time I checked it was part of the NSW High School Maths Curriculum. Nor does it take a Harvard symbologist to recognise Da Vinciâ€™s Vitruvian Man. Add all this to the fact that I knew what was going to happen 10 pages before it actually happened and in my eyes you have a bit of a fizzer that, quite frankly, was a little insulting to the intelligence.
The mundane plot aside, I also found the lead characters lacking any real personality. Dan Brown focuses so much on the plot that he fails to develop either Robert Langdon or Sophie Neveu â€“ they are merely transporters of the story â€“ a way to move the plot along. The real characters of the story are Da Vinci, Opus Dei, The Priory of Sion and religion itself - which is all well and good but hardly groundbreaking. You only have to turn the clock back to the early 1980s and a controversial book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail (by Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln) to see that stories about this very subject matter have been circulating for centuries.
Some might think Iâ€™ve been too harsh. So to calm the masses I will acknowledge that the book was competently written and that itâ€™s a much better read than some of the other â€ścrapâ€ť out there. But in my view the only thing that makes the book so captivating for readers is the subject matter. People go wild over anything that questions the basis of religion. I guess we have to thank Dan Brown for at least encouraging many people who havenâ€™t read a book for years to pick one up again.
Nor do I consider the term "popular fiction" an example of invective: I am not a book snob and I relish a good pot-boiler.
The alleged lineage of Christ and the book's positioning on the bestseller list are entirely irrelevant to the fact that The Da Vinci Code is earth-shatteringly, mind-numbingly dull.
"Boring" appears a pallid and inadequate adjective when applied to this tepid and ponderous novel. I anticipated this novel eagerly: I was looking foward to a fun, no-brainer, page turner.
What I found was a insipid imitation of the work of better thriller writers: a cliche ridden, interminable piece of tash that wound its way through a leaden plot, to a sluggish climax.
The Da Vinci Code begins with Robert Langdon being called to the Louvre museum, where there has been a bizarre murder. Langdon, an expert symbologist, winds up becoming both a suspect in the case and the only investigator who really understands it. Together with Sophie Neveu, a police cryptographer who turns out to be the victim's granddaughter, Langdon sets off on an urgent quest to solve the crime. As Langdon and Neveu race from clue to clue, the plot unfolds to huge proportions, including murderous conspiracies and secret societies, with nothing less than the Catholic church at stake.
As a story, The Da Vinci Code is very well done. It captures the reader's interest from the start and holds it throughout Langdon and Neveu's headlong dash through the night. The characters are well drawn, if awkward in places. The locales are exotic, and the settings intricately detailed. The plot itself is a masterwork. The fact that this book has spawned so many other books to discredit it is testimony to the authenticity and credibility of its voice.
To be honest, there are places in the book where the structure of the sentences falls into a pattern that is humorous and annoying if you recognize it. The vast intricacy of the plot and the convincing detail of the setting, however, more than compensate for any deficiency of character or sentence structure. As a writer, I found much more to covet here than to ridicule.
All in all, I think The Da Vinci Code is a new classic. Many people still discount the work, but I'm not sure how a true bibliophile could justify avoiding it. The book has become a phenomenon, an icon of modern success in the book industry. And, underneath it all, it really is a good story.
The narrative is disjointed, the vocabulary is drab, and his adherence to cliches is positively cringeworthy. And that's before I even get started on the shoddy "research" and the outright lies in the "all descriptions of art, architecture and societies are accurate" disclaimer.
Obviously, as a Christian, it irked me that the "research" was taken as accurate by so many readers of the book; but as someone who is intellectually honest, regardless of religion, I found the poor and inaccurate renderings of some of the most famous pieces of art in the world also to be somewhat irritating.
The symbolic and religious stuff would have been interesting if they were presented differently. A lot of the novel is Langdon going on and on about some sort of detail they found with someone on the sidelines going, "Interesting. Tell me more." Had it been worked in better, or had it just been described in narration instead of Langdon talking page after page, it probably would have been more interesting to read.
This just wasn't the book for me. A lot of people enjoyed it and consider it one of their favorite books, but I just couldn't get past the writing and the stereotypical comments against anything not American.
this man cannot be allowed to write anything else.
his writing is appalling. how does no one else see it?
Characters: Stereotypes. Each and every one of them, straight out of the box. None of them develop any kind of depth at any point, some of them don't even get proper motives for their actions. In a few cases characters could be predicted fifty pages before their first mention (must have an eccentric Brit in this kind of story, and he must be a lord because all Brits are).
Style: Sturdy, easy-to-read writing without any complex sentence patterns. The bare minimum of description. There are moments when the dialogues feel good, but usually they are smothered by the need to get to the next plot point in a hurry.
Plus: Mildly amusing introduction to what an American author thinks Europeans are like.
Minus: In Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum almost the exact plot is discussed once and dismissed as far too unlikely for anyone to ever find believable and interesting in a novel. Eco was right.
Summary: The most overrated book in quite a while, with not one thought-provoking moment inside. The only mystery is how this can be considered great literature.
Personally, I do not think it matters at all whether Jesus got married or not. I do not think it makes any difference to his message or to his impact on the world. He is allowed to have his own personal life remain private just like I am allowed to have my own personal life remain private.
I think that Dan Brown did a good thing to open up a number of topics for discussion. It does not matter whether he claimed that the events described in it are true or whether he claimed that the events described in the book were not true. This is because it does not matter whether the events are true or not. (About Jesus.) Life will just go on.
The book is just a diversion like any other book. Like Pete Townsend said about rock and roll, something to the effect that rock and roll is simultaneously the most serious musical genre in the world, and the least serious musical genre in the world. Take your pick. But by taking your pick does not mean that you get to obliterate the existence of the other choice that you did not pick. If you want Jesus to be a God, you do not get to deny his humanity, including the possibility of him having carnal relations, just like any other man (or woman.) And if you want him to be human, then there is no way of ruling out that he might have some element of divinity in him.
This book is a work of imagination and imagination is how humans thrive. The facts in question are secondary in importance to imagination.
Thank you Dan Brown, I am glad you made a number of millions of dollars; you deserved it. Anybody can write any book they want, and they do not have to answer to anybody for it.
Pulp fiction writers starting with Alexandre Dumas and Eugene Sue all understood one thing. Pulp fiction is written on that kind of paper because humans have an endless curiosity and an endless need for new thrills. Print your books on premium paper if you feel like it, but what percentage of books actually get read by the same person a second time--not too many.