Title: Angels and Demons
Author: Dan Brown
Page Count/Review Word Count: 620
Oh boy, 620 words – where to start. Alright, well first off, I’d like to explain – I don’t hate Dan Brown. Oh sure, I’ve complained about him before, notably in an essay I co-wrote with a friend called ‘(The Lack of) Originality in Modern Literature‘ in which we slated his formulaic writing style.
But having said that, his novels actually aren’t that bad – they’re like fast food for the brain, the type of book that people read because it’s easy despite having plenty of pages. And they have a plot-line, too – in fact, this has one of the better ones.
That said, the novel does still have its fair share of irregularities, stuff that’s explained scientifically but still doesn’t sound legitimate, like when Robert Langdon dives out of a helicopter and survives the fall. All of the stuff about antimatter is difficult to believe at times, too – it’s cool, but is it realistic?
Well, luckily for you, I’ve done some research and discovered that it isn’t – antimatter takes more energy to create than to produce, which would cripple our ability to manufacture it, and over the last twenty years, only 10 billionths of a gram of antimatter has ever been produced at CERN, the equivalent of a firecracker in explosive strength.
I’ve never found Langdon likeable, either – don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the antagonists, although it’s interesting to see how deviously their plans are woven, but I often find that the protagonists are one-sided and often sanctimonious.
Now that the negativity is out of the way, let’s explore why it still received a 7/10 rating. For a start, the hassassin and the disguised character of Janus are terrifying, there’s a sinisterness about them that leaves an uneasy feeling in your stomach as you tentatively turn the pages.
And in places, the characterisation of the extended cast of characters, those who don’t really fit in to the classic ‘good‘ and ‘evil‘ categories, is actually impressive, and each has their own eccentricity.
Take, for example, Maximilian Kohler, the Hawking-esque director of CERN who, confined to a wheelchair, relies on an extensive array of electronic gadgetry including a computer, a telephone, a pager, a video camera and a gun. With added depth, he also blames religion for his paralysis because his pious parents refused to seek treatment for his condition.
And in a cool case of self-reference, the novel features ambigrams that were created by a man called John Langdon, a typographer. One can’t help but wonder whether a little of Robert Langdon’s character is based upon his namesake.
I’m not sure how much I buy in to the Illuminati, though – sure, I know that the Illuminati existed, but I’m not convinced that they still exist today, secretly manipulating the movements of the world’s major players from behind the scenes. I doubt that Brown does either, using them as a plot device, but I know a few people who genuinely believe (and fear) the Illuminati, and I blame the book for their ignorance.
That said, it’s one of those books that’s worth reading just to find out what the fuss is about, and it is enjoyable up to an extent – it’s certainly the best Dan Brown book, although that’s not necessarily saying much. It’s also well worth reading if you’re thinking about starting with his new one – if you’re going to read about Robert Langdon, you might as well know his history.
Just make me a promise not to tell me what happens in Inferno – I might dislike Dan Brown on principle, but I’m still going to go read it and review it.