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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2015
I found this book really interesting and the factual stuff is brilliant. I learnt a lot about the Vatican City through reading this book.
It really does keep you guessing and you want to keep reading.
I would have given it five stars but i didn't enjoy the description of the murders and i kept picturing the scenes even after i'd put down the book. Too graphic for me.
Overall though i enjoyed the book.
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on 31 December 2015
Although this book would have seriously benefited from some harsher editing and re-drafting, it would be unfair to claim there isn't any enjoyment to be had here. Sure, it's far too long and, of course, the cardboard cut-out characters (of which they are too many) are uninspiring and only there to take the reader from A to B...but every now again you just so happen to get interested in what's happening between A and B. As poor as most of the writing is, some of the dialogue between Robert Langdon, Vittoria Vetra and various other characters about the interaction of science and religion is genuinely interesting and thought-provoking, even if the arguments the characters use in the book to defend their own positions are appallingly poor.

A lot is said about Brown's writing and, unfortunately enough, all the complaints I'd heard from his inability to tell the reader what the characters are thinking without spelling it out for them (literally, in the form of italics) to his obvious uncertainty as to whether he is writing a novel or a film script are more than justified. Some of the cliches in here are so painfully apparent that at times I honestly wondered if Brown was deliberately trolling us all, writing an incredibly subtle parody of the adventure/mystery genre. Seriously...literally seconds before one of the BBC reporters reporting on the Pope's death receives the scoop of his life, he is sitting around in the van considering whether he will ever make a difference to the world...So, if the slap-you-in-the-face style of explaining character motivations is the thing you go in for, you'll love Angels and Demons.

Perhaps most frustratingly however, Brown has an annoying tendency to relieve any form of tension he has built up purely for a cheap and unsatisfying end-of-chapter revelation. Particularly evident at the beginning of the book, every time an interesting question comes up, it is solved by Brown finishing a chapter with a throwaway comment, normally by frustratingly telling you what is happening with other characters in other places, killing any chance of tension developing in its crib. This becomes less of a problem once Langdon hits the archives for the first time, but one great example of this is when Langdon tells Vetra that their plan to stop the Illuminati relies on some extreme historical fortune, only for Brown to tell us a few pages later that their bang in luck by revealing what another character is doing and, importantly, where. The phrase 'being your own worst enemy' comes to mind.

But like I said, as annoying as a lot of this book is, it's difficult to not get involved at all. The mystery at the centre of the piece is ultimately well-hidden enough that you read on to reach the conclusion, whilst eventually the poor writing and forced humour become less of a problem once you've learnt how to ignore them. And, as mentioned, some of the discussion about religion and science is well worth a read, purely from a stand-point of seeing how ridiculous it is for people who believe that religion and science are in opposition to one another having a conversation about it and realizing how they justify their own conclusions. It's almost like watching two people take down two straw-men at the same time, whilst pretending to listen to one another. It's an interesting read, even if you're unlikely to learn anything profound from it yourself.

If someone had sat down with Brown before publishing and told him to take out the 250 pages or so that need removing then I would be much more willing to recommend this to others. If you can turn your brain off to an extent and ignore Brown's writing and can overlook the cliched characters and their motivations then there's no reason you can't have a bit of mindless fun with Angels and Demons. As harsh as it sounds, I think 'mindless entertainment' is the vibe Brown was (hopefully) going for, and to be fair, he's hit that mark well enough. Despite many claims to the contrary, you won't learn anything helpful here, but if you've got time to kill and watching a relatively solid mystery unravel is your thing, you've got nothing to lose wading through this.
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on 1 December 2012
In 'Angels and Demons', Dan Brown adopts the formula that would soon deliver commercial success in The Da Vinci Code: write a trashy, third-rate novel that's full of old, tired literary tropes; make it heavy on the research to impress the undiscerning masses who'll lap it up (mistaking you for someone who is discerning and wise); finally, ensure a controversialist angle to ignite idiotic opinion and thus attract attention.

Having now collected ad hoc almost all his works - the result of nomadic trawls through various second-hand bookshops over the years - and having read the stuff, I'll give the author credit where it's due. His talent for cooking-up an insuperable mystery is plain, and his skill in putting together the pieces of the puzzle is unmatched, but his novel-craft is no more than average. This stuff is so banal and undemanding that as I read it my mind was overtaken by a nightmare vision: piles of Dan Brown vintages stacked-up in airports, railway stations, bus terminals and GP waiting rooms across the nation, ready to be picked-up and read by zombified consumers. That would at least afford his hard work some utility. Or, his books could be burnt and used as fuel: we are, after all, facing an energy crisis.

There are a number of ways in which this author's writing could be improved immeasurably, but I don't suppose Brown would listen to even his most earnest critics: as a great comedian once said, "Oh, to hell with it, I'm minted", and that says it all.
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on 9 January 2004
It might be, but barely. The Da Vinci Code also gets a well deserved 5 stars, too.
A breathless adventure, a tour of Rome, some Science, some Art, some Religion, all meticulously pitted against each other. The reader learns some lessons about all three, learns how these things are so integral to the story, but is never patronised.
The best thing about Brown's books, especially the books with Robert Langdon, are that before you start the story he basically writes "this is true, that is true, all Art mentioned is fact, all technology mentioned exists, all the history is true, all I've done is made woven a story around FACT". Sure, Brown has his critics, maybe he is a bit of a drama queen at times, but prove to him, prove to the reader, that this story couldn't happen. You can't, and THAT's what makes it such a ride! Despite all the seemingly far-fetched goings on, there is always a niggle in the back of your mind saying "this is true, that is true (etc)...". Again, tell me why this story couldn't happen in real life?
Special mention goes out to what he does with the map of Rome. He makes a trail for Langdon to follow and the way he does it is genius, absolute genius. This trail is what makes the story for me; what he is describing (without revealing any of the story) are statues that Roman churches have, and how they relate to each other. It is quite incredible how he has managed to weave a 500 year old trail out of this but it is all believable because, like he says at the start, "everything described in this book is fact". The result of this trail is pure fiction - or is it? If you went to Rome today you could see the exact trail that Langdon took and follow it. You would see everything Brown describes, exactly as he describes it, it's unnerving. Magic!
The Da Vinci Code follows this book. I recommend it strongly, although would argue that Angels and Demons just pips it. Apparently Brown's third Langdon book is based in Washingon and is based on the Masons...Everybody get your dollar bills out.
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...(yawn) yes, I'm yet another who bought this on the back of You Know What, and rather wish I hadn't. Basically, it's possible to say that you only need to buy ONE of these two novels, as one forms a template for the other. Brown seems to have invented a modern-day form of 'self plagiarism' (for most of us who read The DVC first) because the similarities between the two story lines are almost comical.

A&D starts out interestingly enough, with touches of science fiction and fast pacing. Well, that was until I got to, er, page three or thereabouts. It then started to annoy me, and frankly it was a nuisance for the remaining 600-odd pages, despite the story's time coverage of little more than 24 hours. I suppose you've got to hand it to the guy - his books sell in the many millions so he must be doing something right - but whereas after The DVC I thought I'd discovered a great new writer, after reading this I won't be buying any of his work again. Best to stick to James Bond - at least he doesn't take himself too seriously, and he has a sense of humour...not only that, if Bond jumped out of a helicopter at 2000 feet (whatever) with no parachute, in pitch darkness, you know he'd make it and not question why or how. But when a cordruoy-jacketed university lecturer (with elbow-pads) does exactly the same thing, complete with pipe-and-slippers no doubt, it's stretching things a bit too far unless this whole yarn was aimed at teenage boys - which it might well be.

Anyway Dan Brown's credibility fell even faster than Langdon when he virtually duplicated the structure of one book and 're-created' it in another. Somehow I can't help but feel that Vittoria Vetra (from Angels & Demons) and Sophie Neveu (from The Da Vinci Code) use the same perfume and have similar vital statistics.... might even be sisters.
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on 26 September 2009
As a priest and lecturer in religious studies,I have to say that Dan Brown has opened out important discussion in books like THE DA VINCI CODE and ANGELS AND DEMONS.The issues he covers in his plots have long been a matter of debate amongst theologians,philosophers academics and art historians,but now through popular culture -including the film versions of the books -the debate is open to all.Such debate has helped fellow congregation members and students.

In addition,Brown's plots encourage visits to the holy sites and art galleries musuems in and near cities like Paris,Rome,London and Edinburgh. The film versions also stimulate the desire to travel to see the actual locations for oneself.

Having just returned from Rome,I enjoyed even more this splendid movie companion.Revisiting the actual locations enabled me to appreciate even more the brilliant way in which such locations had been so expertly recreated by way of film sets.This special book will also be useful to have to hand when revisting the most enjoyable and exciting film version on DVD.

This iilustrated movie companion is also beautifully presented with wonderful photographs not only of the Rome locations described by Dan Brown,but of the eventual sets as well as production designs.The additional interviews with Brown,director Ron Howard,and the main actors are an added bonus .

I cannot recommend this book too highly.It is certainly one of the very best of its kind.

Tony Boyd-Williams
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VINE VOICEon 28 June 2009
This is the first book I have read of Dan Browns and I have to admit I found it entertaining.
The late Cardinal Hume wrote that science is not the enemy of the church. Wonder if DB knew this, because that is the book's plot.
It never ceases to amaze me how ubiquitous university lecturers such as Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon get into these fixes and come out squeakily unscathed at the other end.
On the negative side, it is far too long. 200 dry pages of physics before we get into the story for real. The idea of a scantily clad damselle physicist running around the Vatican made me cringe a bit. She must have been freezing in all those underground passages. And he did drag out the adventures of the Camarlengo, who was a wonderful character and who at one point moved me to sobs - the writing was so beautful. 100 pages before the end, I thought the book was finished, but no, he dragged it out a bit further.
In all fairness, Mr Brown does his research thoroughly, but then he changes it to suit himself. This of course necessitates endless debate and TV documentaries pointing out the true stories after the controversy Mr B. has created.
However, it is a good book and I am told the movie is brilliant - better than DVC.
At least in has convinced me that I must visit Rome some day. It will do wonders for tourism.
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It would be quite reasonable to believe that reviewers who rave about this book and this author have never read anything of merit. Otherwise why on Earth would they laud this juvenile twaddle to the skies? Okay, a casual glance at the advertising blurb suggests an interesting story line - so one buys the book: only to be thoroughly disappointed! The hero, if you believe he justifies the accolade, is a bumbling, uncharismatic, uninteresting, sexless incompetent, who, inconveniently, manages to remain alive through a series of increasingly unbelievable escapades: this, despite the best efforts of a dastardly villain, and his minnions and then only through the efforts of the heroine who, for some perverse reason does her best to entice the twerp into bed. The book ends at that point so we never find out whether or not she awakens the following morning to realize the dire mistake she has made.

A few pages in and it soon dawns that what the author actually had in mind when he perpetrated this offence to rational thinking was a film contract. He even has the temerity to suggest that his 'hero' resembles Harrison Ford! "Harrison, don't do it! You don't need the money and, in any case, Rowan Atkinson in Mr Bean mode would suit the part pefectly!"
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on 9 March 2005
Well, the plot is great, the general framework of the book is fantastic. The storyline and the way it develops through the book has no flaws. And thats how the book earns its three star rating. Where the stars stop coming is the literature Brown uses during the book and the way the ending is brought about. After all the breath taking pulse rating action through the middle of the book, the ending is lax and quite unbelievable.
(....I'm going to spoil the book for you now....) A priest having a son would never happen, plus the camelengo to the pope having access to St. Peters tomb, when it is sealed and open only by the request of the pope. And finally a man of the church would know that killing is wrong so the death of the popes by a priest himself is just stupid.
This book let me down after such an incredible build up, your mind is literally wondering whats next and why and who is the behind the plot against the vatican. And then when you find out and the several pages of random dialogue that follow the revelations.
Buy this book for the storyline and the excitement then put it down about fifteen pages from the end.
Da Vinci is no way near this book. Buy that instead. Or read this book BEFORE the Da Vinci Code
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on 9 February 2006
I think the success of Angels and Demons as well as The Da Vinci Code relies on the amount of actual facts that Dan Brown collected, before putting a story together. However, having a religious background, I was able to amuse myself at some of the fact-twists, which didn't convince me in the least. The amazing thing is how the writer has managed to cause so much controversy amongst the masses through his style of writing. I actually liked Angels and Demons better than The Da Vinci Code, but I couldn't quite pinpoint why. Sometimes, is just better to keep things totally fictional.
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