March 23, 2012

Book: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:35 am

Are you one of those who have lived under a rock and have not read the book or seen the movie of  The Da Vinci Code, the runaway success from Dan Brown? If so, a word of advice : Read this one first.

The two stories are independent stories, and you don’t have to read this one before reading The Da Vinci Code , but right at the beginning, The Da Vince Code makes several references to this one, and it is nicer to have read this one to fully appreciate those references.

Now back to the review.

This is a runaway train of a book: Dan Brown has the storytelling style of Sydney Sheldon, updated with intelligent trivia throughout, which enhances the reading pleasure and makes you feel smarter!  So  this one too reads like a Trivia Buff’s Heaven. Samples: Tim Berner-Lee, the inventor of Internet, (no Al Gore jokes please!) was a European. not an American. Antimatter is a particle that can exist only in experimental lab conditions in a particle accelerator… and so on.

If you are offended by irreverent treatment of religion, neither of the two books mentioned here (this one and The Da Vinci Code) is for you. Please stay away.

Having said that, for those who still qualify, the story is amazingly told. Robert Langdon, professor of Symbology at Harvard, is =called by the director of CERN to investigate the mysterious murder of the leading scientist Leonardo Vetra, whose body is found with the ambigram “Illuminati” burned into his flesh. (And oh, an ambigram is one of those clever little word pictures that reads the same the right way up as well as upside down). Robert is mystified, as the
only Illuminati he knows is an ancient cult of scientists waging war against the Papal power in Rome, who had been ‘effectively vanquished many years ago’.

The search leads him to the heart of Vatican, in the midst of the election of the next Pope from four preferred candidates (preferitii) in an age old custom, as the Pope had recently died (How topical the book came out just before the death of Pope John Paul). All the four leading contenders (cardinals) have been abducted by Illuminati, kept in an unknown location, and are to be executed in a typical Illuminati fashion. The clues to the location are buried in ancient clues in the sculptures of Bernini, the great architect who build most of Vatican’s landmarks, rumoured to be a closet Illumunatus. Robert Langdon races against time to save some or all of the priests, and to uncover the sectret location of the explosives kept deep inside Vatican, of which there are enough to bring the entire Vatican city to rubble and ruin.

The story never sags, and gathers momentum from the very first page. It only accelerates, and never lets go until the amazing denoument. The ending will leave most of you gasping! I do not want to give away anything and so will not describe the story further.

You also learn a whole lot about the customs related to the Pope, the election process of the new Pope and many more bits of Trivia in the meanwhile. You see speculation on the major artifacts of Vatican,not always complimentary. The thread of irreverence seems to pervade everything.

It is the delight of thriller readers and conspiracy throry buffs alike! For all of it, it is indeed a fluff, thriller, and not a heavy book. (Don’t expect depth in the book).

I would not hesitate to give this book the highest rating I have given to a thriller, a 9/10!

— Krishna


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