Angels & Demons

angelsanddemonsI read Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons several years ago.  I liked some of the puzzles, and the mystery and suspense were gripping enough, but at the end of the day Brown’s prose makes Stephen King look like Oscar Wilde.  If I want a good page-turner I’ll pick up a Grisham novel.  Even so, after reading Angels I decided that, if only to better understand the hype, I’d read The DaVinci Code.

Big mistake.  What a waste of life. In this one, Brown manages to make his former self look Oscar Wilde-like in comparison.  Angels & Demons was much better than its sequel – though this really isn’t saying much.

Now, these are the sort of books that can be read in any order.  The films, for instance, have come out in reverse chronological order and it won’t matter a bit to the story-lines.  Many people refer to Angels as the sequel simply because it was never as popular as Code.

In any case, many critics are perturbed by the anti-religious and especially anti-Catholic message in these books.  I understand this.  I think I’m more bothered by the shoddy writing myself.  I don’t much care what anybody writes about religion, so long as they do it well.  His Dark Materials, for instance, by Phillip Pullman, was a joy to read.  Well, the first book was a joy to read – the second two were sort of like a bad acid trip – but still, at least Pullman cares about his craft.  Dan Brown, it would appear, does not.  Fantastic twists and spooky conspiracy theories does not a good novel make.

It does sell copy, though, and movie deals.  I haven’t seen either film and I probably won’t unless I feel compelled to review this latest one.  I tell you, I just don’t get it.  The DaVinci Code was so God-awful bad – so boring – I just don’t understand its appeal.  I mean, is there another book out there with as disappointing an ending?  And Angels & Demons is not that much better – though the end is certainly more riveting.  Give me Robert Ludlum any day over this hokey-pokey pseudo-religious gobbeldy-gook.  Or give me hokey-pokey pseudo-religious gobbeldy-gook, but make it compelling!  Care about your writing enough to add just a tiny bit of loveliness to the prose, a tiny bit of depth to the characters, something.  Anything.  Clever ambigrams simply will not do.

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12 thoughts on “Angels & Demons

  1. I have to admit I enjoyed all of Brown’s novels. i’ve always had this unique ability to enjoy even mediocre prose as long as the story is action-packed. I suppose it comes from a childhood filled with comic books. I also read a lot of Brad Thor and Vince Flynn who write at roughly the same quality but pack in so much action you can’t help but enjoy the books.

    I happened to have read Angels & Demons just a couple of months before Pope John Paul II passed away. I appreciated the incite into the process to select a pope and all of the ceremony surrounding it.

    For all of the anti_catholic criticism, as a Catholic myself one thing I have always loved is the richness of our institutions and ceremonies. I think Brown’s books celebrate that to a point.

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  2. I love Audrey Tautou. I think she is sublimely lovely, and a talented actress.

    She could have offered to accompany me to every city that hosted a screening of “The DaVinci Code” and still I would have refused to sit through it. That a drek-o-rama of its caliber was a big hit says all one needs to know about the American viewing public.

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  3. While there were a number of preposterous turns and exceedingly well placed helper events, my main issue with DVC was that, as a mystery, there were only 6 characters of any note in the book, thus it was impossible that the mysterious villain could be anyone but Sir Leigh, the Cardinal was too obvious. I was hoping that it was Langdon, just as a complete turnabout.

    The plot was entertaining but the pace, the swivel and above all the characters made it as enjoyable as eating honey nut cheerios until you realise that it is but honey nut flavoured cardboard.

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  4. I think the NYT review called it a ‘primer on how not to write an English sentence’. Your hammer has struck nail here. Forget the phoney hysteria. This was shoddy piece of crap that lowers the bar for writing in general. This is no small point. I have come across dozens of people who cannot distinguish in the least that this book was not well-written.

    On a side note, ED, and I don’t have time to go back and quote you specifically, but I recall you recently being a bit flippant about the importance of the humanities (i know it was not the thesis of that post, but rather a throw away line in the beginning) to a proper Education. Whatever you meant by that, I draw a straight line between the decline of education in the humanities and appreciation for the DVC.

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  5. On a side note, ED, and I don’t have time to go back and quote you specifically, but I recall you recently being a bit flippant about the importance of the humanities […]

    Really? I can’t remember doing so at all – I think I might have mentioned their being difficult to quantify in regards to success and so forth, but as a writer and a devout student of the humanities if I such a thing was penned by me I rebuke my former (drunken?) self. I did creative writing in college. I did theatre in high school. I’m a humanities partisan….

    And you make a very good point by the way…

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  6. I can’t for the life of me find the post or the sentence that I referenced. Which might mean I made it up, or dreamed it, which would worry me, as it would mean I’m dreaming about you. I would immediately have to stop reading you and your site if that is the case.

    You don’t have to prove your bonafides to me. You are all good in my books.

    Apologies if any slight was given.

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