Angus Abranson (angusabranson) wrote,
Angus Abranson

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(Review) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Mr Brown seems to be all the rage at the moment. And when I mean all the rage I pay particular attention to RAGE. Being condemned is an instant way to see your sales figures get at least another digit added to the equation. Being condemned by an Ayatollah may not have been good for Salmon Rushdie’s health but it did propel ‘The Satanic Verses’ to the top of the best sellers list and get it a lot more attention and readership than Mr Rushdie would have ever previously dreamed of.

I feel the same is true with ‘The Da Vinci Code’. I doubt we’d see this particular title, alongside a host of Dan Brown’s other books, gracing the Top Ten sellers of Amazon and assorted other book sellers had it not been for the controversy the book has caused. It’s been condemned by the Catholic Church and the movie adaptation has had various sites, including Westminster Abbey, refuse permission to film in the locations mentioned in the book.

It’s a shame that The Catholic Church, whilst condemning the book and telling people not to read it, have actually given it so much publicity that many more people have become curious and actually gone and read it. I say shame because the book is actually about as controversial and ground breaking as a book as Busted is to Punk rock.

The Da Vinci Code is mediocre pop. It’s bland and incredibly easy to read. It has a cloak of ‘controversy’ and ‘conspiracy’ surrounding it which has caused its success. Combined with the fact that you can’t get on the tube or a plane without seeing at least one person clutching this, or one of his other books, it draws you in to its clutches. You end up picking up a copy to see what all the fuss is about.

Well, for anyone who likes an intellectual read, or reading about conspiracies, or even a good mystery book, The Da Vinci Code will be a big disappointment.

Its 590+ pages tell of a single days events. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing but in this case you as a reader are led by the hand through the events, focusing on a number of different characters who are all interlinked. Clive Cussler said that The Da Vinci Code was “one of the finest mysteries I’ve ever read. An amazing tale with enigmas piled on secrets stacked on riddles”. Well, the enigmas piled on secrets, etc, didn’t seem to appear in my copy of the book. As for being one of the finest mysteries…. Well, when I read a mystery book I like it to test my imagination and get me thinking about it, trying to solve it or work out what is going on. Everyone likes to solve a mystery after all. The Da Vinci Code keeps all the clues to itself until the characters actually work them out. There is nothing for you, the reader, to actually ponder and work out. To actually feel fulfilled over when you’ve worked out the secrets correctly. The ideas and hints are not previewed to us before the characters realise them.. To be frank – there are no secrets.

The book reads the reader by the hand through the 24 hour period. It gives enough information for you to understand why the characters are going from point A to point B (most of the time) but doesn’t give anything for the reader to chew on. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Something to watch but not think about as the content is actually non-existent.

The writing style is good, in regards to it is incredibly easier to read and follow. It uses simple English for the mass market readership. For that Mr Brown must be commended. He knows the type of book people pick up at airports and train stations and has tapped into the market perfectly.

For anyone who has any knowledge about conspiracy theories, the Templars, various Jesus myths, etc, the book is a non-entity. Dan Brown has added nothing new to the genre and if anything has watered it down to such a mass-marketable state that you may as well spend your time doing something more useful. Like washing your hair or watching the latest shenanigans on Big Brother…..

I’ve heard people comparing ‘The Da Vinci Code’ with Umberto Eco’s ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’. All I can say is WTF??? The two are light-years apart. Now I will admit being slightly biased here as Foucault’s Pendulum is one of my favourite books. It’s superbly well written, has hundreds of great ideas that it weaves into a believable mythology. It allows the reader to piece together the ‘facts’ in the book to see what’s happening and keeps the readers imagination active. If anything Foucault’s Pendulum gives the reader too much information! I also love the fact that Umberto Eco made the first chapter so heavy to read that many ‘lay’ readers gave up. DON’T GIVE UP! Once you get past the fairly cumbersome opening a stunning work of fiction awaits you!

To bring back my punk analogy….. if Da Vinci Code is Busted then Foucault’s Pendulum is The Sex Pistols. It’s the grand master of historical conspiracy theory novels.

The Da Vinci Code has one core twist in it that makes you think WTF? Not because it is a stunning and intellectual twist – heaven forbid that! – but because you just can’t see any evidence of the twist before it happens and it runs against everything else in the book.

So, my verdict on The Da Vinci Code. I’m actually glad I read it and like I said before it is not a hard read. However I do feel disappointed with it because it was so ‘vanilla’. I like to come away from a book thinking about things I’ve read or feeling affinity with the characters. I’m not sure what I came away from this one. Annoyance I guess. Especially as I picked three of his other books up at the same time in a sale (‘Angels and Demons’, ‘Digital Fortress’ and ‘Deception Point’). That’ll teach me. Don’t believe the hype!


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