Angels and Demons

Dan Brown

Read March 2004

A high-ranking figure in an important organization lies on the floor. As his assassin hovers over him, he pleads for his life, then in a dying breath informs the killer that his search is in vain. In the next scene, Robert Langdon is awoken by secretive people, who arrange from him to be brought over to Europe posthaste. There he joins forces with a young female relative of the assassinated figure... wait a minute. Why is this all so familiar?

Oh, that's right. Dan Brown used the exact same template for both Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code.

That's not all that's in common. Both books suffer from the same juvenile writing style, the same obsession with the name-dropping of high-tech gadgetry, and the same weak dialog peppered with awkward adjectives. Both are chopped tight like a screenplay. Both have the same pointless coyness (only a half-wit wouldn't realize that the “employer” he mentions at one point is the Vatican). Both like playing simple games with written scripts. Both throw in some half-baked math and science (though Brown seems to not realize that he's got the entire Second Law of Thermodynamics batting for the opposition). And both employ ancient secret socities that have become the subject of conspiracy theorists.

Despite all this, Brown is fundamentally entertaining and as pure escape, one could probably do worse (though one could also do much better). There are several ways, however, in which The Da Vinci Code is far better. In this book, his protagonist, Langdon, he of ambiguous religiosity, saves the Vatican not because of its ties to the Catholic Church but because of its ... art collection. The story has dips and dives that are beyond dramatic—they're outright bizarre. This tale doesn't really hold together.

Thanks to the Fislers for lending me this with a warning of its perils.