on 4 May 2013
I have never ,to this date,felt the urge to comment on mr. Dan Brown and his work.
So what changed ? What prompted me to write this "review" ?
I suppose I did.I felt that I had to place on record my amazement about the art-or even the science-of manipulating the average person into overlooking the obvious.
I read the first four D.B. books in a week,during my 2005 summer holidays.In random chronological order.Deception Point,Digital Fortress, The Da Vinci Code,and Angels and Demons.Long before I finished the fourth book,I had come to an amazing-as well as amusing !- conclusion, which prompted me to look up mr.Brown's biography in the Net.
Perhaps not so surprisingly I found out that ,up to the "tender" age of 40, mr.Brown's had shown no inclination whatsoever to become a writer of fiction.His training was in mathematics,and his favorite trade, music.But fate,as usual,played its part.In his pursue of a career as songwriter,singer and pianist,he joined the American Academy of Songwriters,where he met a lady 12 years his senior (whom he eventually wed),whose trade was "Artist development"(i.e.promotion and P.R.).
Apparently when mr.Brown's career as a musician refused to take off,in spite of his wife's promotional efforts,they moved to his hometown in New Hampshire ,where he began to make a living as an English and Spanish junior school teacher.She,apparently,also had some ambition to become a writer,as is evidenced by the fact that they co-wrote a book entitled "187 Men to Avoid:A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman",under the pseudonym "Danielle Brown"!!
Then the couple--I'm sorry,I meant mr.Dan Brown_--began producing the now widely known "adventure-thriller" books .The first three(published between 1998 and 2001) were a flop,selling just a few thousand copies each.
Suddenly,revelation.In 2003 "The Da Vinci code" hits the stands.The rest is history.Huge success,movies and a hell of a lot of money pouring in.
Thoroughly characteristic and revealing mr.Brown's biography might well be,but I feel that I must also list the facts that are obvious to me,in all four books .
One,they are extremely fast paced,especially the last two.One could say frantic.
Two,the trend is to gradually move away from the contemporary world of science,into the realm of pseudo historical mysticism, which ,in turn,produces dramatic global implications.Someone,apparently,realised the obvious.That the "reading public",over the last few decades,suitably guided,had moved away from science fiction ,and into the realm of fantasy.Wizards and dragons had come to rule the "entertainment world".The "target group" in this area had,therefore, grown hugely.
Three,the frenzied pace does not give the reader a chance to pause and reflect,let alone analyse,what exactly he has read.Always a good idea,especially when one is not supposed to "scrutinize",but only to read and be swept away !
Fourth,there is a very definite plot.A pattern ,a true "recipe",from which the "author" does not shift,not even by an inch.
What is this recipe,then ?
Well,for starters "boy meets girl".Very sofisticated they may well be,but they still are "boy and girl".They always triumph together,against impossible odds !(an inference to Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene or,perhaps, to Dan Brown and Blythe Newlon wouldn't be entirely unjustified,methinks).
There is ,always,just one "evil mastermind",in each and every case,in each and every book.Only one.No organisation,no party,no "group of terror",no conspiracy,nothing.Just one single,lonely,person.Nothing else.By inference ,all conspiracy theories are just that.Theories !
Then ,always at the end of the story,comes the real breakthrough,the superb innovation.The evil mastermind is not evil at all ! To the contrary,he means well ! He acts not out of some ulterior motive,but because he nobly wishes to protect some higher ideal(The country,science itself,the Church --it matters not).He really means well.He is just misguided,that is all.Even the "executioner/s"he uses are either good patriotic professional soldiers(Deception point) or half crazed religious fanatics,who think of themselves as "protectors of the faith",as in the last two books.They,too, cannot be blamed for their crimes,as they also mean well !!
If you think about it,the concept is ingenious.Awe inspiring thrillers,with major global risks and implications,where there exist neither conspiracies(in the true meaning of the word) nor "evil" characters,as such !!! Brilliant !!! Because it transpires with crystal clarity that ,regardless who the plot involves,no reader gets "hurt" ,alienated,or even offended !!! No country,no Organisation,no Church,no group of people,no individual , nobody at all !! For there are no " bad guys ".Only good guys,and misguided noble individuals who may commit atrocious crimes-but only because they mean well !!! Thus the "consumer target group",the potential readers or viewers,becomes almost infinete !! Everybody can fit in !! Nobody has reason to oppose or reject the book or the ,subsequent,movie !! Like I said.Pure genious !!
After these conclusions it is perhaps of minor significance to add that in all four books(actually there is only one "concept"of a book-decorated with different ornaments in each case )the plot cannot stand up to even the most superficial scrutiny.Because it is ludicrous to even consider the possibility that somebody would construct a plan to "protect and save " something down the centuries,consisting of dozens of so many steps to be taken sometime in the future,any of which steps is -by far- easier to go wrong rather than right.For ALL of them to "go right" in a very short period of time ,it would take a series of bloody miracles ! Which,of course,is what happens ! Unavoidably and unfailingly ! Especially in "The Da Vinci Code".Hence the frenzied pace,since the reader(or viewer)must not be afforded the time to think through the thoroughly impossible sequence of events !!
I must,however,admit that reading these books has benefited me . It confirmed an old theory that resilience,persistence to a cause(the pursue of wealth,in this case....) and good knowledge of basic human psychology ( i.e. mass manipulation and promotion )can,and usually do, prevail over practically anything,especially talent.With spectacular results,too !!
Dear ms.Blythe Newlon,I humbly take my hat off to you !!!