Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (Book Review)

THE BAD NEWS

* The first thing I noticed about this novel when I started reading it, were the similarities it had w/ the “The Da Vinci Code (TDVC)”.
Some of the similarities are, like, for example:
– An elderly man got killed & branded at the start of the novel;
– The murdered man has a strong willed daughter who helped track down the killer;
– A faceless mastermind was responsible for the murder
– The murders were carried out by physically strong henchmen, who do not know the true identity of the mastermind.
* Of course, A & D was published ahead of TDVC, but since the TDVC is the vastly more popular novel , more people are likely going to have read it ahead of A & D, & will note down the similarities.

THE GOOD NEWS

* While there are similarities, though, there are obvious differences. For one, Langdon seems to have a much better sense of humor in this novel than on the TDVC. The whole theme of the novel, is also very different from the TDVC.

* Dan Brown, as usual, writes in very fast pace, full of details about the subject, & plot twists. Both these elements keep the reader turning page after page of the novel.

* The places, history & customs about the Vatican, the rift between Science & Religion are covered extensively & woven almost seamlessly into the novel, making for a mighty interesting read. You add in the plot twists, the action, & you have one hell of a novel.

VERDICT

* I think its obvious that Dan Brown had used A & D as sort of a prototype for the TDVC. The similarities are quite uncanny; Its almost as if he had used the same plot frames, then just dropped in a different theme or topic, plus minor changes here & there.

* The obvious question would then be: Which is better, A & D, or TDVC? For me, no doubt about it, it is TDVC. A & D was not able to inspire the same kind of enthusiasm I had when I read TDVC.

* However, this is not to say A & D to be a bad novel; It is a damn good one also on its own. Quite readable, despite its similarities to TDVC. Its just that TDVC, was truly a great novel for me, setting a very high standard.

* A & D is highly recommended, a pretty good book on its own.

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The Da Vinci Code (Book Review )

I finally bought Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” to find out what all the fuss was about. And I have to say, what an incredible book to read.

The secret to the TDVC (The Da Vinci Code)’s success, is not on its religious revelations, but on its FAST PACING, ENDLESS PLOT TWISTS, THRILLS & INTRIGUING CODE BREAKING MOMENTS.

Religious Revelations

In terms of religious revelations, it is spotty, at best. While there are historical accuracies in the book, there are also historical innacuracies. Like “The Priory of Scion”, for example. The book makes it look like a real organization, but in truth, the group’s main source of information, is a single, anonymous document in the French archives, suspisciously named, “The Secret Dossier”.

While the document’s authenticity has not been officially ruled as a prank (contrary to what some people might say), it has not been authenticated either. And with an anonymous source, it cannot be truly relied upon as a historical document.

There are Da Vinci Code companion readers out there which seeks to clarify some of the historical & religious allegations in the book. Try to get the more credible (i.e., those whose authors have “PhDs” attached to their names), & unbiased ones (i.e., not written by devout Catholics).

Credible documentaries also exist in mainstream information channels like the National Geographic & the Discovery Channel which uses credible sources, & presents the facts in an easy to understand manner.

The Book’s Strengths

The pacing is lightning fast. The first half of the book, for example, happen during the 1st 6 hrs. when the whole incident was triggered. About 95% of the book (discounting flashbacks) occurs within 24 hours upon the death of Sauniere.

The plot twist are endless. Just when you thought you have things figured out, something comes out to blast thru you train of thought. Twist after twist after twist, they just keep coming over & over again.

In terms of thrills, it is relentless. There is a lot of action, & Sophie & Langdon are always under pressure. Just when you thought they had gotten one step ahead of their pursuers, the pursuers in turn figure out something that keeps them in pace w/ the two.

Most intriguing, would be the codes. There are a lot of them scattered all throughout the novel, most of them made up brilliantly by Brown. Just when the characters thought they had figured out the code, another aspect comes up to confound them.

Religious Exaggeration

While there are also religious & historical accuracies in the book, there are exaggerations also. The “Priory of Scion” mentioned above, is an example.

Another would be that Jesus & Mary Magdalene got married & had descendants that lived up to this day is another exaggeration. This is where the “fiction” aspect of the book kicks in.

The best that biblical scholars can agree to in terms of the relationship between Jesus & Mary Magdalene is that:
* Mary Magdalene does seem to be the MOST important Apostle of Jesus.
* The Gnostic Gospels gives HINTS that Jesus & Mary Magdalene were an item
* But there are absolutely no written, conclusive proof that they were married, & had children. The evidences here, at most, are purely circumstantial.

Conclusion

I would imagine that most devout Catholics would be offended by his allegations about Jesus & Mary Magdalene’s relationship, especially when it turns out that Brown does not have any conclusive proof about it. But, if you take that aspect as purely a work of fiction, & take the book for its strengths, then you would come up w/ a true masterpiece of a thriller.

Every once in a while, a book comes up that seems to have all the right items fall into place. Such a book occurs a couple of times a decade, & in this decade, you can count TDVC as one of those books. Religious exaggerations notwithstanding, this is a truly impressive, & stupenduous book on its own. A must-read, as long as you have an open mind.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it, because if you do so, ‘mabibitin ka talaga.’ There is always the promise of something mysterious & interesting in the coming pages, so it is almost impossible to put down.