Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1)by Published 01 Apr 2006
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World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization -- the Illuminati. In a desperate race to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and deserted cathedrals, and into the depths of the most secretive vault on earth...the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1) Reviews
I read this after the drivel that is called "Da Vinci Code." I decided to give the author another chance, and take on something that maybe wasn't so formulaic.
No dice. I am convinced that Dan Brown does absolutely no research into the subjects he writes about. Or if he does, he decides it is not "titilating enough for him" so he makes it up. I mean why even include actual real things in his books if he chooses to ignore any facts about them. Opus Dei? I doubt he could spell it. Catholic Church? Has he even read any history about the Catholic Church at all? His descriptions of the Church seem to be based on whatever anti-Catholic propoganda he could find, Chick Tracts, and superstition.
So it comes to no surprise that he has 2 massive bestsellers that are more or less, anti-Catholic. Cuz you know, Catholic baiting and prejudice to the Catholic Church is the only real acceptable prejudice left. The underlying superstition and hostility towards Catholicism, priests, the Pope, Vatican, etc is very close to the same sentiments that lingered in the decades and centuries before WWII in Europe.
Think I am overreacting? If someone wrote these books but instead baited the Jews or Muslims there would be a huge outcry. Bashing Catholics and depicting them and their history in the way Dan Brown does in these books is outrageous and should be criticized and shunned.
And I didn't even delve into how awful of a writer he is, did I? The only thing more embarassing than his writing that will never be remembered 20 years from now, is the fact that so many people bought into his piece of shit and wasted their time with it. Including respectable people like Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. There's time you will never get back again. Congrats!
Religion always was, is, has been, and always will be a very sensitive subject for me. However this book was a "battle" of religion and science. The storyline was engaging. I have to admit that the beginning was a bit slow, but as the book progressed, the pace really picked up to a point I pruned myself out in the bathtub finishing it. There was a page I found to be very thought-provoking.
"Religion is like language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices with which we were raised. In the end, though, we are all proclaiming the same thing."
Langdon was intrigued. "So you're saying that whether you are a Christian or a Muslin simply depends on where you were born?"
"Isn't it obvious? Look at the diffusion of religion around the globe."
"So faith is random?"
"Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end, we all are just searching for truth, that which is greater for ourselves." - page 110
This does explain a lot of things for me... *pondering*
Dan Brown writes trash, but sometimes trash can have a certain allure. Sometimes trash sucks you in as you feel forced to reach the bottom of the rubbish pile and see what secrets it may be hiding.
And that’s the strongest aspect of his writing, the pull. Say what you want about the crazily outlandish plot that’s built upon a nest of poor research and flat characters. Say what you want about the anti-Catholic undertones and the semi-racist portrayal of the antagonist, there’s no denying the intensity of the writing.
This is a real page turner, the kind that keeps you reading until three in the morning and makes you want to skip to the end of the book just to see what’s happening. And it’s so entertaining like all good trash should be. Critically speaking, there is so much wrong with this book but I can’t deny how successful it is at keeping the reader involved. It creates so many ridiculous questions that just need to be answered. I stormed through this book at lightning speed.
Looking back though, it is very easy to see the faults. Dan Brown hooks his reader, using mystery and suspense as bait, and it is so very easy to bite on the line. Though as every fish knows, once you’ve been netted life only gets worse. This is a book of very cheap thrills, which can be addictive but will only ever be cheap.
When I was in high school, I was group-travelling across western Europe and in the interest of saving money, we forfeited airfares for rail and coach. This meant aching backs, exploding bladders, and as much sleep as fifteen teenagers can muster while sitting bolt-upright on a coach driving up a clay-soil hillside with no crash barrier and overzealous air conditioning.
Driving up from Rome to Paris, intent on salvaging as much daylight as possible, we took the night train. The night train! Doesn't that sound like fun? Doesn't that sound like a huge adventure?
"Best sleep I ever had," I was told. "You'll love the night train."
I was lied to. The night train was like a bad mood on rails. In fact, just replace the word "train" with "mare" because that's pretty much what it was. We were stacked four to a room the size of a coat closet and forbidden to open our suitcases until we left the train. The bathrooms were like coffins with no toilet roll and seats that kept falling off, and doors that didn't lock, and the queues for the ladies' were like the fucking Danube. It was worse than the hole-in-the-wall showers with the saloon doors in Normandy two years earlier.
When we got on the train in Rome, it was boiling hot. Even in pajamas, I was sweating. There were four duvets in our four-person room, but I was so unbelievably overheated that I donated mine to one of the other girls who complained about being freezing. The train rattled to a start, and I figured I'd get a great sleep. I'd be cool, and comfortable, and this would be the brilliant rest I was promised. Suddenly, the night train didn't seem so bad after all.
I woke up halfway though Switzerland with feet like ice and rug burn from the carpet covering on my bunk. I sat up to try to grab a sweater from my suitcase but it was stowed where I had no hope of reaching it. The window had been left open, but I didn't know how to close it.
I lay back on the bunk, sure that this was truly the worst sleep I had ever had. It was a non-sleep. It was worse than a non-sleep. It was a non-sleep with goosebumps and rug burn on my elbows, and what's more, afterwards, we spent an entire day zipping around Paris trying to keep our eyes open long enough to appreciate a dozen excruciatingly boring tour guides and this gross constant film of polluted city rain. You know, the kind that makes you feel filthy the second it touches you.
Dan Brown is that person; the one who told me I'd have a great sleep on the night train. Though instead, he told me I'd really enjoy this book and that it was a complex, mysterious thriller.
He lied, like the night train person lied. This book is the literary equivalent of rug burn on your elbows and trying to sleep in Switzerland with no fucking socks on.
This book wants you to think that it's really adventurous and spiritual and intelligent when in actual fact it's like giving your duvet away, except your duvet is money, and trying to sleep on the bottom bunk on a rickety-sounding train with a bladder full of pee and a quiet certainty that the person on the bunk above you is going to break it, and you're going to be crushed to death with no bra on in a foreign country, except the person above you is Dan Brown.
Picture this: Robert Langdon, Harvard "symbologist" (let's put a pin in that one) is called to CERN to investigate the murder of a scientist, and then discovers that the murder is connected to an ancient secret society threatening to destroy the sacred Vatican City and murder four cardinals in the name of science.
Then picture this: a bishop falls in love with a nun and they really want to bump uglies but they're supposed to be chaste so instead of having sex they decide to conceive a child (because having a child is supposedly the only alternative to sex in proving one's love for another person) by IVF and then the nun gives birth to a boy who goes on to become the Pope's camerlegno, all the while unaware that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the bloody bishop of Rome.
One of those scenarios sounds like a bestselling novel worthy of praise. The other one sounds like an episode of Nip/Tuck pencilled out on the back of a Booster Juice napkin by an intern doing pails. But both of them are true components of this garbage dump of a commercial novel that wants to think it's so clever and edgy but is in actual fact nothing but Europorn Indiana Jones fanfiction with a side of racism and just a sprinkling of good old fashioned bullshit. Because we love when certain authors twirl their mustaches and tell us all about how much stuff they know when in actual fact they can barely stumble through a single sentence without using the word "awkward" or describing someone's physical appearance with intensely invasive and sexual terms.
Can we just take a moment to discuss Vittoria? Vittoria is the daughter of the murdered priest/scientist from CERN who was creating the antimatter that went into the bomb that intends to blow up the Vatican...to some end. I'm not 100% sure if there was even a point to all of this but let's roll with that.
Vittoria as a character just kills me because not only does she constitute this massive book failing the Bechdel test, but she's this terrible walking trope of a character whose every single action is punctuated with "...the woman." Vittoria has a gun...and she's a woman. Vittoria is mad about something...and she's a woman. Vittoria is a scientist...and she's a woman. There is not a single moment wherein Vittoria's womanness is not commodified, ogled, fetishized or taken advantage of by the plethora of male characters surrounding her and patting her on the head while simultaneously noticing her tanned legs and cleavage as subtly as a baboon rubbing its bright red buttcrack up against a window at the zoo. Vittoria's only purpose as a character is to make Robert, our sanctimonious, self-righteous and highly overrated protagonist look like a hero. Is nobody else finding this insulting? Vittoria is sexualized to within an inch of her life and is then punished for it by a racially problematic villain who tries to rape her but doesn't succeed because Langdon, our plucky hero, swoops in and saves her. He is of course ultimately rewarded for this with sex! Lovely.
Speaking of creepy racism, we also have this terrible image of the "Hassassin" - a brown guy who's obviously evil and a sexual predator and totally perverted and twisted because...well, he's brown?
Look, we all knew this character was going to be a terrible rehash of racist Islamophobic stereotypes. In this book Muslim women are literally called "livestock" and don't try to tell me that this is all part of the evil character of the Hassassin because (a) the portrayal of the Hassassin is racist in an of itself because he is one of only two characters of colour and he is pure evil (the other character of colour is a reporter for the BBC who has absolutely no moral compass whatsoever) and he is not invested in the cause in any way, thus his involvement boils down to "well, he's a rapist and a terrorist, so that must make him Muslim" and (b) need I even fucking say more? Need I rabbit on and on about how bad this stinks, especially in today's social climate?
And to you, inevitable white dude who is getting angrier and angrier as he reads this review - yes, you. I'm speaking to you. Ask yourself how the hell you'd feel. Just step back and think about how pissed off and insulted you'd be if you saw yourself reflected like this and only this, and you knew that it was validating other people's ugly prejudices about you. You get angry enough when people whisper, "toxic masculinity" but then you expect brown people, women, and queer people just to roll over and take this shit? What the hell makes you so special?
(I absolutely love the lack of any research that went into portraying the BBC as the main body of press. We have these two BBC reporters looking for "scoop" and being generally tacky and invasive and this is just such an awful misunderstanding of everything that is characteristic of the BBC. British news networks are not like American news networks; they aren't jokey and cute and funny. They're serious and somber and they cram as much world news as possible into about an hour of programming, which almost always includes some stony-faced reporter standing in the middle of a war zone delivering a status report. BBC reporters have been killed out on the field before. The thing about the BBC is that it doesn't need to be gimmicky to attract ratings because it's comfortably funded by TV licensing. The BBC do not look for "scoop" or sensationalize breaking news or act on anonymous tips from assassins or send two clueless idiots to an event as big as a papal conclave. It's so painfully obvious that, disregarding any cultural differences between America and Europe, of which there are hundreds, Brown simply googled "British news networks" and search-replaced the BBC into this laughable, lovable brick of a novel.)
In between Vittoria being a sexy Mediterranean and the Hassassin being an Evil Man of Colour we have this dreadful hokey plot where our hero survives a fall from three miles up with nothing but a small tarp as a parachute, and real-life CERN is graciously putting up with this total crusade of slander and misinformation involving the shape of pillars, their teaching facilities, and the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider. Look, people were irrationally mad enough about the LHC without Dan Brown pulling out his copy of National Geographic and fanning the flames.
Robert and Vittoria go on this bullshit quest across Rome to locate the Church of Illumination, for some reason, which leads to all sorts of insane conspiracy claims and both of them jumping to the most ridiculous conclusions in order to find the path that ultimately leads to a painfully obvious location that, after years of preservation, study and reconstruction, someone should have already found inside the Castel Sant'Angelo. They then kill a person, and nobody follows up on this - doesn't the person who found the Hassassin's body lying crumpled on a pile of cannonballs think there's maybe something fishy going on? - and there's a huge twist at the end that is so utterly ridiculous and predictable that it brings up the taste of yesterday's lunch.
There is nothing good about this book, and yet it's constructed in such a way that it's virtually impossible to abandon. The constant cliffhangers give this extremely convoluted and silly novel a crack-like quality that is unmatched by any other. I've read some seriously addictive books, but this one takes the fucking cake.
I'm not sure why I bothered sticking with this book until the bitter end. It amused me, I suppose. That's probably why. By the final few chapters, I was literally shouting at the book. I kept thinking, "this needs to end. This fucking book needs to be gone from my life." And yet...I continued to read? Like a madwoman? Well, then. A book marketed and constructed with that much psychological witchery deserves a pat on the back. Never have I ever been so sucked in by something so filled with pretentious, edgelord mansplained crap. That's right, actually; this book should have just been called 'Mansplaining'. Because that's basically what it is. Jesus fucking Christ.
I have a warm place in my heart for books about special snowflake Americans arriving on their white horses to rescue the rest of the world from themselves. I find them cute. They're certainly entertaining, like a preteen diary, and this one in particular. But where's the harm in all that? Sure, this book is filled with pretentious philosophical twaddle but it's not starting any wars. I let myself get lost in it for an hour or two, and that was kinda nice. And for all the book's faults, it inspired an awesome movie. Seriously - they cut almost all of the bullshit tumours out for the screenplay which made for two hours of pretty painless entertainment. No mean feat considering the source material.
I guess how much you'll enjoy this book depends on how many cheesy yoga jokes you're willing to put up with. Let that be a lesson to you all: when in doubt, or when licking lightbulbs seems like a worthier pastime, leave it out.
Robert Langdon is the protagonist. This is the first novel in which the character appears (The DaVinci Code being the most famous) The well-known symbologist is called in by the director of CERN when a renowned scientist is found murdered. The scientist had created anti-matter, in an attempt to demonstrate that divine creation of the universe was scientifically explainable. The scientist has, of course, a brilliant and beautiful daughter. The tale has much payload regarding the Illuminati, an ancient group of scientists who had formed a secret society in opposition to the church. It is fast-paced, and a well made example of the action adventure tale. We learn much about the history of the illuminati, a bit about CERN, but the central questions remain ones of faith and science. It was a fun read, one I felt impelled to return to when free moments appeared.
A few other DBs for your consideration
-----The Lost Symbol
-----The Da Vinci Code