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3.5 out of 5 stars1,638
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 23 March 2004
There is a certain truth to that. Dan Brown must have done something right when he wrote the book that is the biggest success since Harry Potter.
The first part of The da Vinci Code is brilliant. From page one the story takes a firm grip on the reader and it is difficult or even impossible to put down the book for the first 150 or so pages.
One can raise many objections to the simple prose, the stereotype characters and the unlikely chain of events. But Brown presents a story which is told in a deceivingly simple way, when in fact very few could accomplish it. Coupled with an absorbing game of riddles and codes, and an irresistible two thousand-year conspiracy theory, it is not hard to see why this has become such a success.
Most critics have targeted the revisionist history that is presented. It is true that if this were non-fiction, it would rank as one of the historical pseudo-scientific classics beside the works of Graham Hancock and von Däniken. But this is a work of fiction. Complaining about historic falsehood is like complaining about the physics in Star Wars or the science in the X-Files.
The problem is that about halfway through the story Brown abandons his own recipe for success and the story loses tempo. The many alleged cultural references to the Holy Grail become boring and at some places ridiculous. A bit of the magic is lost, and even though it gets better towards the end it never really catches up again. But you shouldn’t miss this book, it is worth the first part alone. Or read it at least so you know what everybody is talking about.
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on 18 March 2005
Very enjoyable. However it should be noted that this is an abridged version. It dosen't tell you that in the details.
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on 13 August 2004
I enjoyed this book and part of the enjoyment was that it was so predictable and ultimately disposable. The story reads like a "how to write a sensational thriller"; intellectual hero, beautiful girl, crazy killer and, of course, a secret society.
Interestingly I read Brown's earlier book, "Angels and Demons" after I had read "Code". It is almost identical... in the first two pages someone is horribly murdered (by the crazed killer) and within five pages Langdon meets the victim's beautiful daughter. Glorious romp, very enjoyable and you don't feel bad about never seeing the book again when you leave it on the train or lend it to somebody.
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on 22 November 2013
I read the first few of pages of this book shortly after it came out in paperback because I wondered what all the fuss was about. Right from the beginning it is fairly clear that it is junk and that would have been that. I then mentioned to a friend (she is still a friend) that it seems like the worst form of mindless pulp. "No, no" she insisted "read on, it has subtle twists". So I bought the book to take away on holiday. I forced my way through a few chapters. God almighty, there is not a cliche that Dan Brown misses... I gave up in a huff.

When I got home I confronted my "friend". I told her that the plot was so obvious it hurt....

..... please stop reading now if you are under 12 and don't want to read a spoiler....

I told her the stereotype Englishman was obviously the villain, obviously Dan Brown was going to make some sort of weak pun about Sacred Blood and Holy Grail (Sangue Real if you missed it) and the book would be turned into a really bad B movie, probably with Harrison Ford - so I might as well just wait for that. "No, no" she said "you might think it is obvious, but like I said it is really very subtle".

Now, I really liked the films "a beautiful mind" and "the sixth sense". Both of which lead you to believe you are watching a fairly mediocre film until the very end when you realize you have been fooled and in fact there was a hidden plot, which once recognized makes you conclude the bits of the films you didn't like were actually brilliant red herrings. So "my friend" convinced me to read on. Which I did, forcing back the bile that ascended every time a secret sign, like Micky Mouse or Newton's apple were explained in an ersatz intellectual way. It was agony.

Guess what, in the end this trashy book delivered exactly what it had promised right from the start. The only thing I had missed was that Harrison Ford obviously has too much taste to get involved with this sort of story. Actually, I watched a bit of the film with Tom Hanks, trust me it is much better than the book.

My take home message is that if you want a good book about the Catholic Church, read Morris West - read the the bible - read anything.... but to save your sanity do not read this.
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on 1 February 2015
Bizarrely, this book filled me with hopeful optimism. If it is possible for something so irredeemably badly written to be published and sell in large numbers then the world of fiction writing is truly the land of opportunity for anyone utterly devoid of any form of literary talent or writing ability.
Part way through the book I was starting to wonder whether this was really a spoof thiller; the characters were so vacuous, the plot so contrived and the clichés so frequent that there were times when I genuinely guffawed out loud at such artless ineptitude manifested in text. One of my particular favorites was when the Robert Langdon character responds to some woodenly contrived life or death emergency with the words "Quick! We must get to a library!". Has anyone in the history of mankind ever responded to a crisis by charging recklessly, come what may, to a library?
A lot of the media hype surrounding this book appears to stem from the allegedly fact based religious conspiracy theory which is the frame work upon which the plot hangs. However, this is not in the least bit original, it is clearly (ahem) 'inspired' by a pseudo-history book called 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail', which itself has been discredited since publication after one of the central claims in the book proved to be a hoax.
In my opinion, this is not a good book. It's not even a mediocre book. The apparent sales success is obviously a triumph of marketing over quality.
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on 5 June 2008
This was a truly dreadful book that I struggled to finish as part of a book club selection and the awful time I had is indelibly etched into my brain.
Poorly drawn characters, artificial dialogue, obvious plot twists and gaping inconsistencies you could drive a truck through.
I thought it was awful though it seems sacrilege to sya it when so many people love it but that doesn't make it a good book.
It may ahve sold millions but it doesn't mean that everyone who bought a copy liked it.
I hope never to read one of his books again.
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on 17 February 2007
When my mother told me about this book that my sister was reading my immediate reaction was that it was the same story as the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail written by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, a book I had first read after seeing it presented on a BBC Horizons programme when it school. Knowing the story to be interesting and presented as a historical argument in that book, if not one that stands up to scrutiny, I was amazed at the hype generated by Dan Brown's book.

I liked Angels and Demons, a much better book in my opinion, and Robert Langdon as an intelligent if slightly unbelievable hero and did enjoy the story of The Da Vinci code though found the pace somewhat difficult. There is literally no time to think during the course of the book and for those who enjoy thoughtful books this will be a real disappointment. The fact that the book is too fast-paced is reinforced by the film which must be impossible to follow if you have not read the book.

Overall, the book is an entertaining read and one that should be read in that spirit. There is too much inaccuracy to have justified the worldwide interest generated and the premises have been disproved previously, most notably the hoax around the Priory of Sion. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail brings more mystery into the story and would be a better read than The Da Vinci code if you did want to follow up on the origins of the fiction.
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on 17 February 2005
The Da Vinci Code is a disappointing reading experience. Although I agree with many other reviewers regarding the writing style, as pure entertainment, some of the discussions of myths, legends and theories are interesting. However, the pay-off is a major let-down (I was expecting some great conspiracy)and the book becomes increasingly annoying because of the constant plot summaries and lines like: 'He looked at police cryptologist Sophie Neveau...' that occur hundreds of pages into the book (I know who she is!). Also, the villains are not exactly terrifying either. However, as train reading, the book skips along and there is much hilarity to be found (check out the dialogue of the 'alter boy' and the Helios Demos stuff). And if you do find yourself getting bored, you can always count how many times Brown can get the word 'cryptex' onto a single page.
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on 12 July 2004
...which isn't such a bad thing, really. It covers similar ground (approximately) but lacks the others depth, genius and complexity (and it's glorious final twist). What the Da Vinci Code does offer, however, is a great fun fast occult conspiracy thriller, with engaging characters, smart action and a good easy reading style. Take everything it contains with a fistful of salt, however - Mr Brown doesn't do a very good job of deliniating fact from fiction, tending to blur real and fictional figures easily. The most annoying point of the novel occurs right at the beggining, oddly, when he presents a page of "facts" outside the fiction to validate his work - but at least one of them is discredited beyond being taken seriously. In the end, this book isn't half as deep, philosophical or revolutionary as it thinks it is is - but as a good fun holiday read its worth a look. And regarding Mr Brown's supposed great historical research, most of it seems cribbed from one or two sensationalist books (Holy Blood Holy Grail, for example) - most of the mythology and legend I was already familiar with and I'm certainly not a world famous symbologist....
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on 16 January 2006
I have to say I resisted the temptation for a while to get a copy of the Da Vinci Code but eventually curiosity got the better of me and I picked up a copy in the supermarked. I have to say that I was hooked from the first page. I thought it was all hype and publicity not to mention the 'blasphemous' content. However, it is fiction at its very best.
The book centres on academic Robert Langdon and a cryptologist, Sophie Neveu's attempts to get to the heart of the secret of the holy grail. The book follows them through the death of her grandfather at the Louvre in Paris, to London, England and finally to Scotland. Dan Brown brings the characters to life in his novel and by the end, you feel like you know Langdon and Neveu quite well so much so that you can assume what they will say and what their reactions are to certain situations.
They pick up enemies on the way including the ghostly Silas who is shadowy creature with an obsession.
In the end, one ends up learning more about Christianity than not. Opus Dei, the Catholic organisation based in New York is given acres of publicity which can't be bad for a book that set out to give an alternative to the Christian story we all know.
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