30 January 2006

2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

So I know I may be the last, or next-to-last American to read The Da Vinci Code, so I am sure you have been all around about this book years ago.

I'm the guy who doesn't want to get on the pop bandwagon, or I get on it early and then ditch when everyone else catches on. For example, I won't read any reviews of movies I haven't seen so I won't be influenced or hear anything about the characters' deals, the plot, or the setting. Or, I'll listen to a band nonstop until their album is on the radio, or whatever, and then I'll drop them. I did the same thing with Contact by Carl "googleplex" Sagan – when I heard the movie was coming out I read the book as fast as possible and then never went to see the movie. I still haven't seen the entire thing. (I recommend the book.)

So, here I was, with DVC on my shelf, a Christmas present from a kid who is now in 9th grade. So I have had the book for two years, and I think it's been out longer than that.

So I am sure you already know all this but (I thought) it was a great story for its good, interesting, twisty and tight plot, and its detailed historical base (embellished or not, I don't care). The characters were flimsy stereotypes – we never see Langdon change from what he was in the beginning of the book, or wonder what his favorite color is. It doesn't matter – all he has to do is be our wonderer, our puzzler, and our plot-guide. Same with Sophie. The plot answers the questions of why them, why did it have to happen to him or her? But the characterization falls down.

But I guess that is to be expected from a thriller/mystery/conspiracy theory/other novel.

I do now want to find out to what degree did Dan Brown invent, or rearrange history. What did happen at the convention were the Nicene Creed was written? Was there a vote to have Jesus become divine? Was he a direct descendant from King David? Through Joseph? But wasn't he the literal son of god and therefore had no earth-patriarchy to be descended from? And what was the deal with Mary Magdalene? It also makes me want to go back to the Gospels and do some research. I took a class on Ancient Religions one summer at NYU and learned a lot about the outright thievery by the early Christian church, or borrowing if you prefer, of the religious cultures that came before it: Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and some of the other pantheistic local religions of Rome and Mesopotamia. It's amazing. I also did a long paper on the letters from Paul, and came to the conclusion that he hijacked the message and did more damage than good.

Is Angels and Demons as compelling reading? I read the first 300 pages of DVC in one jury duty day and the next 150 in three busier days. I saw the trailer for the movie and it provoked a new motivation for me to finally read it. And the need to read something good and clean after the completely disappointing Mossflower.

Recommended? Yeah, but you've already read it.

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