30 August 2007

Book Review: Angels & Demons

About a year ago, my mom gave me a book on CD: Dan Brown's Angels & Demons. Because my drive to work is so short, I failed to begin listening until the long drive back from Norman's wedding. It was a long drive--from 4 p.m. to 11:30--just long enough to get me completely hooked.

Like the rest of humanity, I read The Da Vinci Code, finding it a first-class thriller. I held back from A&D primarily because I'm not a big reader of thrillers. I can probably count on one hand the number of thrillers I've read in my life--my all-time favorite being Ken Follet's Die Nadel.

To be honest, I enjoyed A&D a little more than DVC. Yes, it has religion at its core: a plot by the secret group, The Illuminati, to destroy the Vatican with a superweapon. It isn't as enthusiastically heterodoxical as DVC, however. I felt Brown did a pretty good job of balancing believers with skeptics--even as he was killing off a pope, four cardinals and bringing St. Peter's Cathedral to the edge of destruction.

What I loved about the book was the tour of Rome he provides the reader. The art of Bernini, the Piazza Nuovono, the Pantheon, and the Sistine Chapel provide settings in the book. I thought the clues that Robert Langon (also the hero of DVC) had to decipher were a little more clever than those he solved in DVC as he raced from Paris to London to Scotland. The love story--this time involving a beautiful Italian nuclear physicist--is better told than the awkward relationship with Sophie in DVC.

Best of all, though, has to be Brown's pacing. Just when I was about to get to a key point, the reader would break and then say, "Chapter 34." One of the problems with listening to thrillers on tape instead of reading them is that you can't scan ahead. You have to wait!!!

All told, I give the book four of five stars. If you're interested in listening. I have the CDs here!

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