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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 736
Source: Bought
Author's Website: http://www.danbrown.com/
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Description (from Goodreads): Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is shocked to find proof that the legendary secret society, the Illuminati--dedicated since the time of Galileo to promoting the interests of science and condemning the blind faith of Catholicism--is alive, well, and murderously active. Brilliant physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, his eyes plucked out, and the society's ancient symbol branded upon his chest. His final discovery, antimatter, the most powerful and dangerous energy source known to man, has disappeared--only to be hidden somewhere beneath Vatican City on the eve of the election of a new pope. Langdon and Vittoria, Vetra's daughter and colleague, embark on a frantic hunt through the streets, churches, and catacombs of Rome, following a 400-year-old trail to the lair of the Illuminati, to prevent the incineration of civilization.

In short: Angels and Demons is another formulaic read by Dan Brown with poor writing and characters but it does make for a good thriller with lots of fun twists.

This book has been on my TBR list for years! I had initially planned to read it right after I had read The Da Vinci Code but just never did. No particular reason why. But I'm glad to have finally read it, to scratch it off my list. Angels and Demons is the first book in the Robert Langdon series and follows the same formula as the second book, The Da Vinci Code, which was a little disappointing. The book starts off slowly with another gruesome murder of an old guy who's related to the foreign love interest of Langdon. The foreign love interest and Langdon team up to solve the mystery which involves yet another secret anti-Vatican society. I realize this book was written before The Da Vinci Code which is why my complaint about the repetitive storyline isn't so much about this book but the series as a whole. I have no idea what The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3) is about but hopefully Brown switched it up a bit with that one.

Dan Brown is not such a great writer and his characters are frankly boring. However, in this situation I feel like he can almost sort of get away with it because the strength of the book lies not so much with the writing but with the entertainment factor. It was a good thriller. I was happily surprised on numerous occasions reading the book thinking I knew exactly what was going to happen next and then being thrown for a loop in the next moment. I did not see the ending coming.

What I loved most about this book (and The Da Vinci Code) is that it is educational fun (the best kind of fun!). I loved learning about CERN, the bizarre traditions of the Vatican, churches around Rome, and religious iconology. That said, I have no idea if what I read is true, that Brown really did do his research, but I'm guessing not. Either way, I'm no expert so Brown managed to convince me almost completely that his knowledge on symbology was legitimate. What I did not fall for however, was the explanation that the creation of antimatter proves that God exists. Brown gave a very shallow explanation for how this works that really fell flat for me. He is most definitely not a physicist.

Like I said earlier, I'm glad I read it but I'm also glad it's over. It took me a long time to get through this one and it didn't always keep my attention. I'm looking forward to moving on and reading something else now.

So when will I get around to reading The Lost Symbol? Maybe in a few more years :).


  1. I like your review. You had me laughing!

    I read Angels and Demons before DC, so I liked this one better (mostly because then DC was so unoriginal). I thought they were both fun to read, but nothing spectacular. I also liked "learning" about all of the churches, art, symbols, etc, but I don't know either how true any of that is!

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  3. I read the Da Vinci Code, wasn't brave enough to venture onto anything else. Insightful review, isn't it funny how sometimes we just can't wait to be done with a book - not because its so great - but because you're dying to move on.

    sorry about the above post - too many spelling errors had to remove it or face utter shamefulness

  4. @Small Review Thanks! Yes, I think I did enjoy The Da Vinci Code more because I read that one first and it seemed so original at the time. And I am very doubtful about the verity of the plot but at least it was fun reading about!

    @Gina I always feel like I must finish books even if I'm not enjoying them. I feel like I have to tough it out until the end no matter how painful it is, haha. And lol! As if I would judge you and shame you based on a few spelling errors :)

  5. Gina, you're so right! I try to tell myself that I shouldn't waste my time on a book I'm just not enjoying, but sometimes I still feel compelled to finish. In those cases, I can't finish fast enough, not because I want to find out what happens but because I just want it to be over already.

    One of the things I remember liking about TDC and A&D is that they both had really short chapters, so I ended up reading the books really fast. If they had long chapters I probably wouldn't have made it through to the end of both.

  6. Yes, I liked the short chapters, too. They were good for reading quickly in between classes and other short spaces of time. I never really sat down for an hour or two to just this book like I do with books that I'm really into.

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