TITLE: Angels & Demons
AUTHOR: Dan Brown
SERIES: Robert Langdon (#1)
PUBLISHER: Barnes & Noble Classics
GENRE: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
RATING: 3/5 Stars
When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyse a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati...the most powerful underground organisation ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church.
Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the ’s holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.
Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair...a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.
What I Liked:
- No one can deny that even if the end of chapter cliff-hangers are cheesy and worthy of a little bit of eye-rolling, Dan Brown does suspense and fast-paced action very well. This book was a real page-turner! I loved that feeling of time running out, and watching the character's run from place to place, trying to figure out what do next and in time before the villain had his way. When I read a thriller, this is the kind of heart-pounding action I expect to see.
- The mystery itself was also very good. I figured a fair amount of it out (including the big 'real villain' twist) about halfway through. Nevertheless, it wasn't easy to do and I liked that Brown threw in a couple of red herrings to throw people off the scent. It was difficult to know who to trust in this one and that's something I really appreciate in books like this.
What I Disliked:
- There are a lot of inconsistencies in this book. If a novel revolves around a specific area of history, I expect an author to do his or her research and I was so disappointed that upon looking some of this stuff up, most of it was just plain wrong. Especially as Brown himself is doing nothing to amend his mistakes or pass it off as made up for fictional purposes only. As he has such a huge fan-base, I feel he really has a responsibility to make any real-life historical inaccuracy clear.
- While the characters weren't terrible, they weren't overly likeable either. In fact, in some instances, they were plain annoying. Langdon is supposed to be the hero but while witty, came across as a bumbling slow fool going through a mid-life crisis most of the time. Vittoria's energy I loved to begin with, as I thought Brown was writing her as a strong, independent woman. In the end though, she still ended up being the damsel in distress and it grated on me slightly. The romance was like a nerdier version of James Bond - not in any way sexy and slightly uncomfortable to watch unfold.
I don't think this was a bad book. As far as thrillers go (a genre that I don't tend to enjoy so much) I actually quite liked it! There was a great deal of good pacing: thrills and twists galore, cliffhangers and fast-paced dashing around Rome. The mystery at the heart of it all was interesting, and I would have liked to see it explored more factually, but unfortunately Brown did resort to lazy untruths that he didn't even try to pass off as an alternative historic timeline. There are a lot of historical inaccuracies in this book and I'm so disappointed because everyone knows that well-researched world-building is top priority for a lot of books when I read them. Also, I would have liked some better crafted characters that weren't just 'okay' so that I could actually be invested in the situation a lot more.