Sunday, June 7, 2009

Review: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Title: Angels & Demons
Series: Robert Langdon
Author: Dan Brown
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: June 18, 2001
Publisher: Corgi
ISBN: 0552148717
ISBN-13: 9780552148719

When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati...the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church.

Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the ’s holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.

Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair...a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.

My rating:

The cardinals are flocking to the Vatican to elect a new pope, yet the four preferiti, the four candidates most likely to be elected, are kidnapped. The kidnapper vows to execute all four of them before midnight, one an hour, and at midnight to make the Vatican disappear.

It looks like the Illuminati, an ancient "sect" combating the Holy Church for centuries, are behind the kidnapping and the threat, so someone decides to enlist the help of symbologist and Illuminati scholar, Professor Roberts Langdon, in deciphering the possible hidden message in the video and help them find the four missing cardinals. But when scientist Vittoria Vetra arrives on scene, the threat of the annihilation of the Vatican, takes on a completely new meaning.

One heck of a mystery/thriller combo. It’s a wonderful mixture of everything. Some history, a great conspiracy theory, thrills and chills, art appreciation, loads of trivia to use as conversation fodder...And a minute romantic sub-subplot to draw a few more females. 😉
This is a combination many authors are going for these days, but unfortunately I’m not that impressed with the results.

I’m a history buff, I admit, so this one was right up my alley. The characters were nicely drawn, the facts "simply" presented, and the conspiracy (whether there is a grain of truth in it or not) nicely interwoven into what is basically a race-against-the-time, whodunit story. Major kudos for the final twist, (when I first read it) I never saw that one coming.

That is also the reason why I didn’t much care for the movie version. There were too many cuts, changes and additions.
If you want to truly appreciate this story, don’t settle for the movie, read the book. The page-count might appear a tad intimidating, but trust me, once you start reading the time (and pages) will fly.


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