Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dan Brown: Angels & Demons

Guest Review by Kit Bradley
July 8, 2009

I bought Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons a couple years ago but never got around to reading it. Now that the movie is out, I decided to read it right away. I’m now looking forward to seeing the movie and comparing it to the book.

As the story starts, some violently explosive “antimatter” has been stolen from CERN, a physics lab in Switzerland, and the scientist that created it is murdered. (Years ago I visited CERN and gave a product presentation to that famous research institution!)

Anyway, since the dead scientist was branded with a strange symbol, Robert Langdon, a famous symbologist, has been called to CERN to help discover who did it. It appears the Illuminati are responsible, but Robert, an expert in such things, thought the Illuminati faded out of existence a couple centuries ago.

The Illuminati are an ancient fellowship of scientists dating back to Galileo, and they have always been antagonistic to the Catholic Church, which they believe is anti-science. Faith and science are frequently contrasted throughout this book.

Well, we learn that the Illuminati are planning to use the antimatter to blow up the Vatican in less than 24 hours, so Robert and Vittoria Vetra (the daughter of the murdered scientist, his new side kick) jet off to Rome for the rest of the story.

Robert, Vittoria, and security people from the Vatican now chase all around Rome looking for clues that will help them catch up with the Illuminati “hassassin,” a really bad guy. Robert is very knowledgeable, but working under pressure he needs a high dosage of luck to succeed. Predictably he solves the puzzles, but not always fast enough. At first he is trying to save the lives of several cardinals, and later he is trying to save the whole Vatican. I don’t think he contributed very much, but at least he kept the action going. Vittoria didn’t add a lot either, although not surprisingly she got into a fix that required heroic action from Robert to save her.

By the way, I was never able to form a clear image of Robert Langdon in my imagination. I kept seeing Tom Hanks.

As the story nears its climax, we get a surprising twist that explains a lot of things, but the 24-hour deadline is fast approaching, and the Vatican is likely to be destroyed. How far will Dan Brown go in his story telling? Can he get away with killing high-level Catholics? Can he blow up the Vatican? You’ll have to read the book (or see the movie).

As thrillers go, Angels & Demons didn’t captivate me. Early in the book you could deduce and summarize the rest of the plot. At each mini-crisis the good guys and bad guys had predictable successes and/or failures. And I figured Dan Brown would never blow up the Vatican, so I thought I knew the ending. Of course there was that plot twist near the end…

Also the characters felt shallow and didn’t grow on me. Except the hassassin, who was very dedicated in his evilness.

Angels & Demons is a good story, somewhat more complex than I’ve summarized here, but it’s not a book I’ll be in a hurry to read again.

1 comment:

Avatar said...

I've just finished reading the book. It's a masterpiece. Dan Brown's book on Robert Langdon adventure brings massive success. Theres new book will be out in September. :)