on February 27, 2006
Having read "The Da Vinci Code", I was quite exited to dig into "Angels & Demons", Robert Langdon's first adventure. I found out, however, that I was reading the same book. Robert was yet again with a female "sidekick", the ending "twist" had the same elements, and the villian had the same mindset. Only the location and a few plot elements changed.
Having that being said, I would like to say that "Angels & Demons" is still an interesting read. Dan Brown seems to do his research while writing his novels, and since the chapters are short, I kept saying "Just one more chapter" as I read the book. I managed to finish it in two days.
Robert Langdon is awaken from his home in the United States due to a phone call by Dr. Kohler, the President of CERN, a Swiss science facility. There, Langdon sees the dead body of a CERN scientist with the word "Illuminati" burned onto his chest. Shortly thereafter, they discover one of the deadly projects the scientist was working on has gone missing; anitmatter. Anitmatter has the ability to power the continental United States with just one pound of it, or become the most dealy weapon ever made. Later, they discover that the canister is somewhere in The Vatican, the Illuminati's ultimate enemy.
If you already read "The Da Vinci Code", you can see the similarities. However, one of the things about Dan Brown is that he writes in such a way that we already know the outcome, we just want to see how it happens. "Angels & Demons" is well worth a read, but if you are new to Dan Brown, or, more importantly, Robert Langdon's universe, I strongly reccomend that you read "The Da Vinci Code" first, as that is a superiour novel and the ending won't be known before you start the second chapter.
on October 14, 2004
It seems to start off as a bad science fiction novel with the protagonist whisked away to a European physics laboratory in a hypersonic jet which the author describes in a manner that would leave any space aficionado cringing. Once there, antimatter is described as something new, is "evidence of god" and is a potential energy source for mankind. Fortunately, the story settles down into a tale of a centuries-old conspiracy intertwined in an urgent puzzle that must be solved before the day is over.
Throughout the novel, the author conveys a battle between science and religion that is both sensational and childish. However, he manages to always dangle a carrot in front of you to compel you read the next chapter. Perhaps the story is not compatible with actual history but it is not meant to be.
One annoying "flaw" is that the secret society essential to the story wasn't completely secret. The author even describes a best-selling computer game that is about the society. The society is also exposed in detail worldwide on live television. The story would have been much more satisfying and intriguing if secrecy was kept.
Worth reading for preparation for that phenomenon, "The DaVinci Code"
on July 9, 2004
If you've ever been to an overhyped summer blockbuster action/thriller, (where most of the budget was spent on fantastical special effects), then you have a sense of the mind numbing pacing of this novel. Dan Brown creates a plot line that pits the age old Illuminati against the Catholic church, but the entire saga begins and ends in the span of one day -- crossing oceans, continents and countless time zones on the way. Much like high budget action thrillers, I found myself amazed at the work that went into the book, but numbed out with all the constant twists, turns, jetsetting and code solving. The relentless flow of famed artists, obsure churches, signifcant historical dates, numerology, etc., left me wanting to put the book down and take a break. Instead of being a page turner, (which it seems to have all the makings for), the implausible break neck speed of the story is exhausting. The protagonists are so busy solving hugely complex, centuries old riddles in the space of minutes, they don't have time to ever eat or use the bathroom. There is not much depth to the characters. Yet, as one of the other reviewers shared, the sheer volume of activity had me unable to dismiss the book entirely and I eventually finsihed it. Like some works of art, you can admire this book just because of the sheer difficulty and amount of work that went into creating it, not because you like it. If you enjoy a fast paced story and you don't overthink things, you will probably find this a thrill ride. But for most, it will probably challenge their ability to suspend disbelief.
on July 9, 2004
I think I was one of the few people who didn't absolutely love "The DaVinci Code". A friend suggested I read this telling me it was a better story, and upon finishing I have to agree. After now having read his two biggest novels I've come to the conclusion Dan Brown writes the literary equivalent to the summer blockbuster movie. A huge plot that barrels along at a breakneck pace, daring and heart pounding action sequences, and characters that have stilted dialogue but are used for their specific purpose to move the plot along.(Not that there's anything wrong with that.) This involves a Harvard symbologist, called to help unravel an ancient mystery involving a secret brotherhood that is out to destroy the Catholic Church. The debate between science and religion is played against the backdrop of the Vatican city while the city itself is facing complete destruction in a matter of hours. Perfect movie setup.
Too bad Harrison Ford, is too old for Langdon...Dennis Quaid perhaps?
on July 7, 2004
After having read the Da Vinci Code I ordered Angels & Demons immediately to read up on a previous mystery adventure of Robert Langdon. This time I found myself in Rome and yet again confronted with the intrigues of a dark, mysterious, ruthless secret society.... (or that's what I thought anyway.)
The pope died and all the cardinals are assembled to elect one among them as their new leader. However, the three most potential candidates are missing and Langdon accompanied by a very capable and intelligent female scientist finds himself drawn into a thrilling chain of events. Brutally murdered bodies duffed with the signs of an ancient secret society thought to be inexistent for centuries mark his way. There are a mere 6 hours left till mayday.. Breathtaking and full of good views on Rome and insights into art and science the adventure unfolds.
There's just one thing which stood me up yet again: What's up with Dan's endings? His "special-effect" endings just don't work for me.
on July 4, 2004
This is the first book in the Robert Langdon Series, where you are introduced to the Art Historian and Harvard Symbologist who everyone is now becoming all cozy with reading Brown's recent best selling/trendy to read novel The Da Vinci Code. Langdon receives a call in the night which begins the most interesting 24 hours of his life, and ends up not only learning up close about the secret organization that he has studied for so long, but also wandering around Rome in an almost treasure hunt fashion. If you read the Parody of The Da Vinci Code by Dave Barry, in my opinion this book is actually closer to that cookie cutter vision Barry wrote about. The Novel brings to head the conflict of Science vs. Religion in a dramatic and bizarre (but interesting) way.
Science and Religion have always been opposing forces in the views of man, but when a new and powerfully scary power is unleashed, a power that could either combine Science and Religion, or destroy them both, Robert Langdon has one hell of a long day.
It's not the most original idea...intelligential man brought into a mystery and has to use his abilities to save the day, and of course the girl (though girl's in Brown's Novels are pretty darn feisty) But it's the way Brown presents the ideas of Religion and Science, Mortality and Mind that make for an interesting read.
Some people claim that Demons and Angels and The Da Vinci Code are anti-catholic/anti-religion...but I found no indication of this. They seem to point out many flaws in religious thinking, that much is true, but they are also protective of the Church, and of Mankind's need to look to something other than itself...the need to not lose the mysteries of the world.
When reading this novel I couldn't help but make comparisons to Indiana Jones movies and other adventure/mystery types because, while this book dealt with such things as Physics, and Art, you have to just take things for granted. You need to accept certain things to have a good time.
I read many reviews of this novel and found people poking holes through almost all of the facts presented in the novel (in Latin this means this, not that...and that doesn't actually work like that, and so forth) but it's fiction, it's not a journal of Scientific Study. Just read it and follow the Author's amazing view of things, and see the connections he makes, and follow them without question, because that is what this book is about....putting things together. Just thinking how Brown managed to intertwine so many elements, and create a plot that follows a logical path, but still manages to suprize is enough for me.
It's action packed and fast paced as well. It has moments of cheesy fun, times where you want to bang your head on a wall (in that good way of course), moments of startling revelation, and a fun chance to watch smart people solve mysteries....A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER IN BOOK FORM. As long as you recognize this, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code are both fun reads.
on July 3, 2004
That was my feeling when I finished reading the book, a Rambo or 007 hero trying to save the world in 6 hours!
I should say that the historical and religious explanations were incredible, Mr. Brown made all these intrict connections and sometimes it was hard to draw the line between fiction and reality. I have been to Italy and the architectural significance really overwhelmed me, I was reading it with passion and longing.
On the other hand, the story itself is nothing new, a heart filled with rage decides to get revenge and uses a form of destruction to kill his boss, in this case it is the Pope, to ultimately reach his own goal, but later discovers a hidden secret which Brown intended to be the final magnificant twist, but completely lost its magic, I think, after the complicated countdown, and none but a ruthless Arab to complete the picture!!? who plays the Assassin.
So you find all the fusion and interaction of nationalities and languages, with mistakes, especially the Arabic language, and the hero ultimately defies death and survives a jump from the sky and at the end wins- ironically- a prize which reminded me of 007!
The author records everything, minute by minute, though sometimes you feel like these people must be on another planet, because their minute is like an hour on Earth!
I am not sure if it is worth reading, but it is amazing that a book so fragile made such a buzz:(
on June 28, 2004
Many people have already kindly pointed out the incorrect factual context of which much of the book centres on and recurring mistakes made on the lingual translations in Italian and Latin. We've also been told, often, about the blatantly ridicolous plot and one-dimensional characters.
However, these people have obviously failed to see the point of such a book. Dan Brown has often taken some creative license to weave a fantastical (yes, not always true) and compelling book that is NOT supposed to be taken seriously!
Regardless of the blaring discrepancies, I really enjoyed 'Angels & Demons' because of Brown's trademark ability to instill urgency and plot twists into a compelling story.
'Angels & Demons' was quite plainly, a fun and enjoyable read. Not only has it served as amusing brain candy but it's compelled me to seek out the facts and the actual historical context that the story is based on.
Undoubtedly, we could dismiss this 'DaVinci Code' prequel as factual garbage, but at least, we could leave it as very well written factual garbage. =)
on June 28, 2004
Dan Brown has the capacity to select and delve into themes that are highly relevant and challenging. When you are finished reading you have some good curiosities and questions.I love that and that is the reason for the 3 stars.
On the other end he wants to make box office movies. So it ends up with 2-dimensional plots and characters.
In this sense A&D is a lot worse than the Da Vinci Code. None of the characters makes much sense. Some of the action is so unbelievable, it hurts.
As an Italian, born and raised in Rome, I have 2 culture specific comments:
1- Most (90%+) of italian terms and expressions are wrong. Mispelled, wrong words, words that do not exist, words taken from other languages, english expressions that seem to have been translated by web based automated tools...
It does not help; in fact it detracts from my reader trust in the seriousness of Brown's research.
In fact I find hard to imagine that he, obviously not knowing much of the language, could or would not find a friend (or his publisher find a buck or two) to have the stuff checked and corrected.
2- (this has to do with national pride). Smell of urine in dark corners is a fact of large cities not just Rome; while it is true that coffee bars in Rome greatly outnumber public restrooms it is as true, and locals know it Mr. Brown doesn't, that every single one of those bars (or for that matter, any other food service establishment in any italian city), BY LAW has to have functioning restrooms AVAILABLE to the PUBLIC whether people consume at the establishment or not.
All in all, keep going Dan. Just forget movie scripts, will you?
PS: If you do not have an Italian friend, I'll do the work for the next book...
on June 25, 2004
having read "the code," i decided to pick up angels and demons like most everyone else who reads "the code" first, figures out who this guy is and becomes his number one fan. knowing this, dan brown even writes a little thank you to the reader on the inside cover, saying how much he appreciates our buying "demons," pretty much after having read "code." ironic, but hey...absolute succes comes absolutely. i made that up. you can use it if you want.
so, yes, i read "the code" and became brown's number one fan, deja vu style. a reknown scientist is killed. the calling card left behind at the murder suggests that it was the work of an ancient sect called "the illuminati." enter robert langdon, big time illuminati researcher (apparently) and all around great guy. he is summoned by the HEAD OF CERN, the company where the scientist worked and died. strangely enough, the HEAD OF CERN found langdon on the internet so that qualified him as being the guy to call for during hard times like these. what was to be a murder story about pure speculation basically 180's into a holy war between the catholic church and a long dead group of "anti-churchgoers," confirmed by langdon to be the real "illuminati" thing because they were able to expertly draw their own insignia upsidedown. brilliant!
"demons" might be a steller novel, but i'm suddenly aware of brown's formulaic approach and it's hard to not let it smack me around a little. it's there. i assume everything he writes is put together this way and, in my opinion, these two books are far too similar.
robert langdon being the hero aside, "demons" also has a puzzle-solving premise toward the religious finale in the battle of good vs. evil, but evil isn't really that evil and good is in how you look at it. "demons" also happens in real time. it's set in wonderous locales, almost SCREAMING for a picture deal. it's controversial, as was "the code" and of course mr. brown threw in a pretty, exotic heroine who just happens to be unexpendably central to the entire piece. fine. i can overlook all that. but with the Hassassin being the killing underling to the order badmouthing catholism, reminds me very ghostly of silas from "the code," a violent fellow who was an underling to the order badmouthing catholism.
i don't even know why this book appeals to me to much. it's the girl's story as langdon is relegated to almost a supporting player and a whole lot of what he does is unrealistic. mach 15 jet indeed! brown was easily just trying to move things along at a much quicker pace so he could stay true to his real time motif.
i loved "demons" but i found my share of holes in it that just could not be ignored. brown, being an astute researcher, apparently, knows nothing about television. in one chapter, he mentions how CNN snubnoses a story and films it quickly like it's unimportant. cnn doesn't film anything, i worked there for 8 years. its all video. and msnbc fakes being on the scene for a story, using in-studio wind and rain machines? no such thing! msnbc never, EVER had facilities like that as water is the bain of television equipment. lots of people who work the technical sides of television freelance at various networks for extra money, so we get around - tonight i am at court tv - and i have never heard of such things that brown mentions in this novel and i'm sure he hasn't either. bluffing like that, i hate to think about the other things in his books that don't exist, purposely fiction or not, and we just believe it on face value.