Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recently Read: Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

I know Dan Brown books get quite a bit of stick from the literati, but personally I quite like them. I started reading this one before last Christmas. I got about two-thirds of the way through and then got sidetracked and started reading something else. I only picked it up again a few weeks ago. I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but the fact that it took me a year to read it probably says more about my erratic reading habits than it does about the book.

This was the second Dan Brown book I'd read, the first being The Da Vinci Code. Like the first, I quite enjoyed this one. I found it interesting, fast-paced and quite zippy.

Actually, I should probably use this opportunity to stick up for Dan Brown a bit. His writing style and subject matter often come in for criticism, but I think it's a bit unfair. When I hear people, even people I'm a fan of like Stephen Fry, deriding The Da Vinci Code I kind of feel they're missing the point and being a little bit snobbish. Dan Brown's writing style is perfectly apt for the type of books he writes. If you want extraordinary prose you should probably go somewhere else. In fact, part of Dan Brown's success lies in his unpretentious writing style - his books read like James Bond movies, that's part of the appeal.

Another thing which I find a bit silly is the way people take issue with the statements made in the preface of his books - like the one where he states that the Priory of Sion is a real organisation. First of all, his books are works of fiction. How anyone can get worked up about something they've read in a fictional work is beyond me, whether it's been presented as fact or otherwise. And secondly, the statements are clearly literary devices. When Dan Brown writes that the Priory of Sion is a real organisation he's basically saying "listen, I haven't made this stuff up out of thin air." The point being that people in the real world had actually researched and speculated about this stuff before he wrote the book. Anyone reading a Dan Brown novel for the first time needs to know this stuff otherwise it wont make any sense.

Anyway, like I said, I feel the criticism he gets is a bit unfair. This was a good book.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think you are right. The popular style, regardless of what is fiction or fact in these novels, has presented these ideas and aroused the curiosity of people who wouldn't have come across some of the sources of the ideas. I saw this in action a few years back when asked by the Workers Educational Association to help a group of adult learners set up a bookclub in a village outside Darlington. It was the Da Vinci Code that had motivated them to start the village bookclub and that was the first book they chose to read and discuss! In their first session they noted some of his sources as follow on reading for those who wanted to learn more.