I 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.