on 10 November 2005
I'd not ready any of Dan's work prior to this. I guess I'd been swept along by the media frenzy and popularity of the book, so decided to give it a go.
From the moment I opened the book I was certainly gripped and within a few pages it was so easy to see the book as a typical Hollywood film - in glorious colour and subtle lighting. Visually it's certainly a powerful book - in some respects Hemmingway had it right - less is more, when it comes to description.
It's certainly a great read and a great story and I have to confess since reading this I have gone on to read all three (it's now November 2005) of his other works; I've thoroughly enjoyed them all - even though they can be a little too far fetched in places!
Here's the "however" though. It is a good story, but I did feel it starts to "pitter" out towards the end. I know the film is in making and I have to say I'm not too sure what the film director is going to add to it, because Dan's style of writing has meant much of the "set" has been made, lit, painted and created for him.
Overall, a good book for entertainment. Unputdownable? Certainly on occassions, but not so much towards the end.
on 2 August 2008
I've just finished reading the Da Vinci Code. Everyone persuaded me to read it but I found it extremely disappointing. It started out OK but it soon became bogged down in fictional trivia, plus it had so many "puzzles" to solve I felt like I was 10 years old and back at school on some sort of paper chase - it became boring! And because its pace almost slowed to a halt, I nearly dozed off several times trying to finish it, after which I wanted to toss it out of the window! Dan Brown also Americanised this novel - and they're suckers for "happy" endings - but I'm sorry, why would a stranger than fiction family reunion and a subtle hint of romance between the two main characters towards the end suddenly stop all that greed for world power, high Church corruption, hired hit men, killing and mayhem? Did all the baddies suddenly evaporate by a kiss and a promise of a nice little holiday in Florence??? Give a break!! Dan liked to play the teacher in this novel but as a woman I really didn't appreciate being patronised by the wide-eyed little girl scenario where Sophie had to suffer (and me with her) being "taught" not only by her Grandfather but then by 2 other self-satisfied men professing to hold all the knowledge and all the answers - while Sophie batted her eyelashes - but wasn't Sophie cleverer than all the men put together? Sorry Dan. I won't be wasting time reading any of your other novels, but I'm sure you'll still be happy laughing at us all the way to the bank.
on 18 March 2013
I got the book some time ago when it was still a rather unknown item. I took it as a fictional thriller with absolutely no connections to the real world. Nevertheless, along the reading you notice the resolute affirmations about Christianity in the fabric of the book both factual and historical. But of course all this is quasi-knowledge. All the so called "facts" are fabricated to fit the plot of the story. Very cleverly and professionally done by Brown that by now has become an specialist in this kind of disinformation that unfortunately is so effective that some people have begun to address it as common knowledge as if it was part of an Encyclopedia. I have even witness TV commentators that quote the "Da Vinci Code" when they are speaking about religious issues. The main problem here is that after the enormous popularity of this book (the film was very bad indeed) other books both by Brown and other authors followed and will still follow which in their endeavor are permeated with this quasi-knowledge that sells so good. Perhaps just to be fair we should classify these as fantasy or sci-fi or even create a new classification f.e.: pseudo-historical.
on 8 November 2009
I was very disappointed by this book, blurbed as "one of the finest mysteries" which I actually found pretty obvious and straightforward for the most part. I found the initial set up for the adventure to be pretty daft and hole ridden (why didn't the curator run, why weren't there more fail-safes?). My hopes from the start were pretty slim when on one of the first page it stated "All descriptions of... secret rituals in this novel are accurate". And as soon as it was 'revealed' that the code and secrets were involved with the Holy Grail I gave up pretty much all hope.
The story telling is clumsy, with the extremely short chapters making the book seem extremely bitty. The painfully slow hinting and eventual revealing of various backgrounds and histories are quite painful. It works as a mystery in that once you've started reading it, it's hard to stop, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they're interested in grail history.
on 14 July 2005
I picked this up because it's the end of term, my brain isn't fully functional and I wanted an entertaining page turner. And I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. I was massively disappointed. This is a truly terrible book. Amzingly so. The cliches and plain poor writing bring the story to a shuddering halt over and over as the eye panics and can't believe that that is quite what was written there. It;s like you are sub-editing it, as if you are the first person to read it and you are writng notes for the author. Can't really say that, Dan; you've used that cliche on the previous page twice already, Dan; this is just undigested research, Dan. And the story is absolute tosh from beginnig to end. Based on fact, my big toe! Wouldn't recommend it to anyone, at all, ever. Absolute twaddle.
on 16 July 2005
I will be totally honest and confess that all the hype about this book put me off reading it for a long time. However, it was given to me as a birthday present and it would have been rude to not give it a try. Well, I've read it and I really can't see what the fuss is all about.
The writing style is stilted and clumsy. There are many errors and don't get me started on the way in which Mr Brown continually manufactures cliff-hangers for almost every chapter.If that is the only way he can make his readers want to read on then so be it, but it annoyed me beyond measure. I mean, how many times can someone open a box, gasp in disbelief at the contents and then not describe them for another three chapters?
My favourite spate of bad writing comes quite early on, during the drive from the Louvre to the American Embassy. Sophie has been thinking back about "the terrible thing" she saw her grandfather doing without ever letting the reader in on the secret. However, the moment she decides to think about it is when she is trying to escape the police in a high speed chase. She is driving and I'm pretty sure she would be better off concentrating on the road.
Best of all though is the drive from the Louvre to the embassy. On page 190, Sophie sets off, knowing that it is less than half a mile to get there. On page 192, after driving directly towards the embassy, she sighs with relief as now there is less than a mile to go. I've never been to Paris but the authorities really should do something about the spatial rift that apparently exists there. Generally, when I drive towards something, I get nearer to it, not further away.
The ending is very weak too but I won't spoil it for you. The author has already done that.
It's not a terrible book but it could have been so much better. Read "The Name Of The Rose" if you want an intelligent thriller. If you must read this then at least see the flaws and appreciate that they stretch into the supposed revelatory theories as well.
on 14 January 2005
Highly formulaic pageturner. Nice cliffhanger-ridden and suspenseful storytelling, but too commercially crafted (read: Hollywood-ready) to be taken seriously. Dan Brown is obviously an Eco-fan, although upon comparison I tend to get a fastfood-feeling with Dan Brown, whereas Umberto Eco makes me feel I have been dining out in true splendid grandeur (albeit sometimes for too long, ending up feeling bloated for days on end). I guess I should have known there ought to be a difference between an American ex-programmer-gone-bestseller-writer and an Italian semantics-professor who writes novels after hours.
Nevertheless, Dan Brown deserves praise for his ability to make both the Vatican and Opus Dei make public statements about the novel. To put it in his own words, he must have, somehow, struck a nerve. The Da Vinci Code has spawned a number of books trying to de-code or clarify the book as well in perhaps more accurate, more historic facts, because after all, The Da Vince Code remains a work of fiction.
on 3 February 2005
I'll admit first off to having very negative feelings about this book, but that's based on it's style and plot, or lack of, and not out of any dislike of its subject-matter. The basic idea is good, I've read similar theories about the Holy Grail, and who doesn't love the odd secret society and conspiracy theories? It's the incredulous series of events and, frankly, lazy characterisations that I take issue with. I mean, you've just been accused of murder and you've just met a Cryptographer, who persuades you to throw the tracking device cunningly secreted about your person by the cliche'd police chief out of the window and go on the run (you can see He'd lost me in the first few chapters!). Still, it won't be a problem for you, as you happen to know an incredibly rich Knight of the Realm (yeah, so he's a knight...so what?!)who will aid your escape in his private jet......do I need to go on?
If people really think this is a good book they ought to get out more, read some real history (David Starkey's the man!) and some cracking historical novels (The Year of Wonders, The Other Boleyn Girl, Girl With A Pearl Earring) and not this pap! By the way, if it's thrills and spills you want without the religious angle, check out Kathy Reichs, or if you like a bit of religion and an easy read, check out PC Doherty before he became fixated with Alexander - his Egyptian series and the Hugh Corbett books are, although not exactly literary masterpieces, nonetheless a pleasant way to pass an evening and they don't make me want to throw the book across the room!
on 23 July 2003
First of all, this is a good book. I found it harder to put down than that novel about superglue, and it just never stopped for a pause, but at times I found it annoyingly written. I nearly gave up after 50 pages as I got the felling that the author had swallowed a guidebook about Paris and then regurgitated it up around a crime novel. The over use of italics was painful to see. Does every tenth line have to say something like 'Of course! Why hadn’t I noticed that before!' ? Some of the codes that the main characters had to crack were more obvious than a clue on Catchphrase, and I found myself shouting at the book when Langdon et al struggled to see the answer. Also, if you are writing a book about cracking codes, why bother having a main character with a name like Sir Leigh Teabing that is so obviously an anagram? There are a few clumsy moments, such as Sir Leigh Teabing (anag.) saying that he would like to live in Devonshire. Where’s that then? Somewhere near Cornwallshire? Also Dan Brown says that England is the only country in Europe that drives on the left. I’m sure any Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Maltese and Cypriot readers would disagree.
Maybe I’m picking overly picky, but as I read this book I got very annoyed by its style. If you like doing treasure hunts then this is quite definitely the book for you, and next time you visit the Louvre, you’ll be more knowledgeable than the tour guide.
on 3 April 2004
From the hype we should be reading a cross between Umberto Eco and Frederick Forsyth. The quote from the New York Times on the back cover is nearer the mark when it name checks Harry Potter.
The writing style is basic and the first 100 or so pages of the novel are a trial. However, it is worth ploughing on and by the second half of the book it becomes an enjoyable read, with some clever twists to the plot.
As to the subject matter. The author has clearly read the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail books from the 1980's. Anyone who is interested in this should look these up, and check out what the Catholic church actually believes. The idea that the Catholic church has hidden the 'sacred feminine' is laughable, especially considering its teachings on The Virgin Mary.
Buy a copy and grit your teeth through the early chapters until the plot comes into its own. Its worth it.