I finished reading the book this weekend. If I had to choose one word to describe the book, it wouldn’t be heresy or anything of the sort. It would be – disappointing.
Possibly a victim of its own hype, I found the book surprisingly ordinary and predictable, especially in the second half. I also found the supposed assualt on Christianity to be very disappointing. I was expecting to face tough issues that would require work to disprove, instead Dan Brown served pop psuedo-history with no real factual support.
Much has been made over the countless errors in the book. I will get into those later, but for now I want to review the book apart from those.
The first part of the book is a decently gripping murder mystery. The curator of the Louvre is murdered in his museum, but before he dies he leaves a cryptic message around his body, which he positions in a strange way.
The primary suspect quickly becomes Robert Langdon, an American professor visiting Paris to give a lecture on religious symbols. With the help of Sophia Neveu, a talented cryptologist with family secrets, Langdon travels across Europe to prove his innocence, which is wrapped up in the trail of clues left by the murdered curator. Not only do the clues hold the key to Langdon’s freedom and Neveu’s family, but they also point to a long buried mystery.
As I said the first half of the book screams along at a frantic pace with new clues bringing new intriguing questions, but unfortunately Dan Brown the writer turns into Dan Brown the evangelist. He spends way too much time having his characters preach at the reader, under the guise of explaining the history of the Da Vinci code.
After several chapters of a sermon, we are treated to more of the same through out the book. What was surprising and fresh and the beginning becomes repetitive and dry toward the end. Somehow every symbol and shape in every church in Europe is a pagan one. V’s, triangles, circles, crosses, roses, compasses, stars, everything has a hidden pagan meaning that the Catholic Church is trying to cover up. If a building has a symbol, it is a pagan one. If it doesn’t have a symbol, it is hiding the true story. The Catholic Church literally becames danged if you do and danged if you don’t.
You begin to see the twists coming from a mile away because Brown gets sloppier in his story-telling as he gets more fervent in his proselytizing. While the Catholic Church is not the ultimate villain of the novel, they, along with all of Christendom, are the villains of history in Brown’s alternative universe.
In short, I can see why this book was a best seller. Ignoring the preaching, it delivers some unexpected twists wrapped up in an exciting conspiracy. What I cannot understand is why this book became the best-selling adult novel of all time. Besides the weak, at best, factual support for anything (art, history, theology, etc.) espoused, Brown’s novel fades away from a strong plot and interesting characters to repeated clichés and redundant conspiracies.
In the coming weeks, I will explore the ignorance displayed by Brown in regards to art, architecture, history and Christian theology.