Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dan Brown run-down part 1: Angels and Demons

I'd heard about Dan Brown's bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code (the book with a light brown cover). I'd heard about the prequel, Angels and Demons (this one has a light blue cover). Long before I left the shores of my native Aotearoa, my friends and colleagues were talking about these masterpieces. In fact, one of my friends went so far as to renounce his pagan ways and convert to Catholicism as a result of reading the Code. I couldn't imagine it being that powerful, but I believe in the adage: Never judge a man before you've walked a mile in his shoes. (you'll be a mile away and have his shoes)

When I started my UK book collection at the Waterstones sale, I thought I should take the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about: I bought Angels and Demons.

Boy, did I feel cheated.

Angels and Demons is the only book I can think of that has made me want to throw it down in anger. I wasn't angry at the grotesque torture inflicted on men of the cloth, nor was I angry at the accusations of immoral conduct by Popes. These were more likely points in the book's favour. No, I was angry at the way Dan Brown talked to me. Talked down to me. Maybe it's just my background, but I think even someone who's never studied a periodic table in his or her life would only need a few paragraphs to convince them that the superweapon created by renegade scientists was Bad News. I felt like I was reading a science book for 12-year olds.

The technology wasn't the only thing amiss in the writing, or even the worst. The novel read like a screenplay, with Hollywood-style explanations of concepts: always have a confused character ask a knowledgeable one. Not to mention the irritating and unnecessary foreshadowing:

He never suspected that later that night, in a country hundreds of miles away, the information would save his life.

Luckily, I pressed on and made it past all the horrible parts. The story itself was reasonably interesting, and the layers of deception were worthy of a Mission: Impossible! film. Still, I wasn't going to pay actual money for the sequel.


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