Dan Brown dropped a book last year, Origins, and apparently it’s great because I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews about it. It piqued my interest. Once again, I found myself toying with the idea to read a Dan Brown, an author who’s said to be both a great and horrible writer, depending on who you speak to.
Luckily for me, Angels & Demons was available at the library, so I borrowed it and started to read. After a few pages in, I realized I would be one of the many to sing Dan Brown praises for his creation. I was immediately hooked and had to purchase my own copy of the book soon after starting the story.
Angels & Demons is a thriller/mystery novel about a Harvard symbologist named Robert Langdon who is called in to help solve a murder that occurred on the campus of CERN, a Swiss research facility, since the murderer branded its victim with the mark of the Illuminati, an ancient brotherhood.
Langdon is at first doubtful that the murder has anything to do with the Illuminati, but as events progress — there’s a bomb threat at Vatican City on the eve of the holy conclave, — he begins to wonder if the Illuminati are indeed back and are trying to wrest power from the Catholic church.
In his attempt to solve the murder and help the Swiss Guard find the bomb before time runs out, Langdon and Vittoria Vetra, the daughter of the murder victim, travel to Vatican City to search for clues that may help reveal who exactly the killer is. (Goodreads)
I don’t care what anyone says, Dan Brown can tell a story. I’m a fan. 😊
I was hooked the entire time I read and could barely part with my iPad (I read the e-book). It wasn’t the writing that kept me hooked, or even the characters; it was the suspense and the facts Brown shares about religion, art, and history. The suspense made me eager to find out how the story would end, while the facts made me crave to know more.
Despite the slow pace at the beginning, Angels & Demons was an exciting read. I watched the movie years ago when it came out, but had forgotten much of the plot, so I wasn’t spoiled for the end though, leading up to it, I did suspect who the mastermind behind the heinous acts was. I also wasn’t put off by the switches in perspective, which I didn’t expect. We even get to read from one of the antagonist’s perspectives, which didn’t do much for me since that antagonist, the Hassassin, didn’t have much depth.
Actually, almost all the characters lacked depth, but I didn’t care. I was too hooked on the plot. Besides, the focus of the story is the plot, not the characters. If it was the other way around, I would have been sorely disappointed. The plot progressed at a slow pace as Brown allows his protagonist, Robert Langdon, to adjust to the situation he’s flown into. The slow pace also gives Brown time to fill in the reader on prior events and show off Langdon’s extensive knowledge of history, religion, art, and symbology and how great he looks in his tweed jacket, which sometimes annoyed me. It’s obvious that Brown really likes this character.
Another major character is Vittoria Vetra, the daughter of the murder victim. Vittoria was gutsier than I thought she would be, but also a little disappointing too, but that’s probably because I think she was only included so that Langdon could rescue her at the end like a knight rescuing a princess trapped in a tower. Lol, smh. I guess those fantastical elements are part of the reason why I enjoyed the story though they did annoy me.
The resolution also didn’t work for me. The events leading up to the end were exciting, but I couldn’t totally believe method used to get rid of the bomb. Because of the nature of the bomb, I thought it would be impossible to get rid of or dismantle it. And Langdon surviving all that didn’t seem believable either. Though I liked that Langdon felt a surge of courage that led him to rescue Vittoria (and that she saves herself), I couldn’t ignore the racial dynamics of the situation and couldn’t stop thinking of it as a White dude (knight in shining armor) who must prevent the White woman (damsel in distress) from being defiled by a person of color (monster who should be destroyed). I keep going back and forth on this because that Hassassin dude was horrible and I was rooting for Langdon but was happy when Vittoria sorta saved herself and Langdon too.
Anyway, other stuff I liked about this story is the little bits of things I learned, like Hassassin, which were actually real and were a feared sect of Islamic warriors and the word “assassin” is derived from it. I also didn’t know about the Swiss Guard until I read this book. I’ve heard the term used, but didn’t know what they did or that Michelangelo designed their outlandish uniform (well, so people say). I quite like their uniform, though it must make clandestine operations in the field quite difficult (assuming they wear their uniform all the time, which they probably don’t).
Of course, I also enjoyed this story because of the discussion it provides on religion and science and how the two relate to each other. I won’t go much into it, but I like arguments that point out that the two are trying to achieve the same thing and have done so but have used different methods to reach the same goal. I think both are needed to balance each other.
It was entertaining and I think Dan Brown is good storyteller. I’d like to read another of his books to sample more of his stories.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
It’s good, but it has some faults, and I don’t think the story will appeal to everyone though it’s very entertaining and kept my interest throughout.
Quotes from the book:
“The most dangerous enemy is that which no one fears.”
“Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbituary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves.”