There's a reason why everyone talks about The DaVinci Code and not about this book. I have no idea what that reason would be, because I thought AngelsThere's a reason why everyone talks about The DaVinci Code and not about this book. I have no idea what that reason would be, because I thought Angels & Demons was mediocre so I never bothered to read the The DaVinci Code. Anyway, I was bored and a copy of this was sitting at the library for a quarter and I thought "WTF, mate, I'll give it a go."
The first page of chapter 1 starts with Susan Fletcher waking from a romantic dream to the ringing of the telephone:
"Susan, it's David. Did I wake you?" She smiled, rolling over in bed. "I was just dreaming of you. Come over and play." He laughed. "It's still dark out." "Mmm." She moaned sensuously. "Then definitely come over and play. We can sleep in before we head north."
That is not a transcription typo, or the manifestation of my unfocused rage. It really does read '"Mmm." She moaned sensuously.' Please feel free to vomit if you need to; I'll wait.
David then proceeds to postpone their plans to celebrate their six-month engagement due to something hush-hush, like maybe his being a big homo. C'mon, what sort of man is going to pass up some sweet, sweet lovin' before disappearing on a mystery mission? The kind who likes other men, that's what kind. A handful of pages later, it becomes clear that Dan Brown has read too many Clive Cussler novels as we're treated to a description of David Becker:
"Becker was dark--a rugged, youthful thirty-five with sharp green eyes and a wit to match. His strong jaw and taut features reminded Susan of carved marble. Over six feet tall, Becker moved across a squash court faster than any of his colleagues could comprehend. After soundly beating his opponent, he would cool off by dousing his head in a drinking fountain and soaking his tuft of thick, black hair. Then, still dripping, he'd treat his opponent to a fruit shake and a bagel."
Is it just me or does this read like Dan Brown was typing this with one hand? Why does Mr. Stud have the same initials as the author? Why would anyone want a sharp green wit? And is 'fruit shake' some sort of code for gay sex? Is that why he is still dripping?
So then, after all this ran through my immature little mind, I remembered I had other books to read--books that didn't suck horrifically within the first ten pages. Yay for other books!
Oh, and I sold it to a used book shop for a dollar, so it was worth the quarter. Yay for used book shops!...more
Reading this was like waiting for a mystery package from UPS. I sat waiting for it to deliver on some fairly interesting ideas but we kept missing eacReading this was like waiting for a mystery package from UPS. I sat waiting for it to deliver on some fairly interesting ideas but we kept missing each other and I kept getting those damned yellow stickers and then when it all finally came together it turned out to be one of those nasty nut-covered cheese ball things dropped off by a guy wearing brown socks....more
It's so rare to have a book that I just can't wait to get back to reading. I always have a book with me (usually several in my car, as noted by certaiIt's so rare to have a book that I just can't wait to get back to reading. I always have a book with me (usually several in my car, as noted by certain friends of mine who can't help but comment on the apartment-like state of my vehicle), but then there's the one that leaps to the fore and all the other 'currently reading' titles are consigned, literally, to the back seat. Carter Beats the Devil is fun from the beginning. Gold has a knack for characters and for dialogue, and even the back story is interesting, rather than just poorly drummed-up filler to explain motivations. His pacing is perfect, like that of the showman he writes about. Some of the highest praise I can give is that it made me want to research characters and events to learn more about his source material. Finally, if that's not reason enough to love this story, it has one of the best lines ever uttered in a disagreement between brothers:
"Oh, dear God, you don't actually have a brain, do you, it's more a filigreed spiderweb, with little chambers in it where trained monkeys play the pipe organ."
I stole this book from my friend Krystal. Ok, not so much stole as co-opted for a few days. I see her at the coffee shop and she shows me the book sheI stole this book from my friend Krystal. Ok, not so much stole as co-opted for a few days. I see her at the coffee shop and she shows me the book she just started reading. She then starts talking to other people. Having left my book at home in a rare moment of bibliotardedness, I start reading hers. She wanders off to run errands nearby and by the time she comes back I'm a third of the way into it. She gathers her things to go and tells me, "Go ahead and finish it. I've got another book."
*sniff* That's friendship right there, people. She is the sweetest person in the world right now, and maybe even for the rest of the week.
Anyway. This is a fun adventure story and I liked the characters immediately, but Chabon sometimes gets in his own way when he bludgeons his reader with rather ponderous sentences. At barely 200 pages, I was glad for the brevity. The man's style would wear me down in a longer book. When he's not torturing a metaphor, however, he comes up with some entertaining prose:
"...[he] began to explain that any king who controlled both the treasury and the army was, in the eyes of the world, legitimate, and that while no one could know the mind of God, the Almighty had in the past shown a marked tendency, in his view, to ratify public opinion."
"I don't save lives," Zelikman said. "I just prolong their futility."
"She had always found a paradox in the crime of blasphemy, for it seemed to her that any God who could be discountenanced by the words of human beings was by definition not worthy of reverence...."
I guess I should have a shelf titled "read-sort of." The first 50-75 pages were fairly engaging-- it is a timely concept and the "what if" factor keepI guess I should have a shelf titled "read-sort of." The first 50-75 pages were fairly engaging-- it is a timely concept and the "what if" factor keeps the plot moving. Then I realized I was reading The Stand all over again, but a slightly different version where the story actually becomes less interesting the further I read. I skipped ahead. I tried to find parts that didn't bore me. I failed. Then I fell asleep and later woke to a beautiful world where I had the freedom to not finish this book....more
My biggest problem with this book is the narrator's voice. Maybe I should say voices, because there are two. The first is in first person and as he teMy biggest problem with this book is the narrator's voice. Maybe I should say voices, because there are two. The first is in first person and as he tells his story he becomes more and more irritating due to his almost complete self-absorption, and I feel that the focus on his incessant and often pointless yammering detracts from the story itself. The second is a third person narrator. Having a first person narrator and a third person narrator in the same story irritates the crap out of me. Pick one and go with it. It's a peeve. Sue me.
However, even writers who irritate me can have moments that transcend and cause me to forgive their other crimes. In this book the moment arrives on page 379:
"She kissed him briefly and slid out of the bed and he thought there can't be many things more lovely than watching a woman you've just made love to walk across the room, that way her back and her ass look in the dawn's early light...."
I don't know that I would ever call Pelecanos a 'great' writer. His stories are not epic, he doesn't write particularly quotable dialogue and I won'tI don't know that I would ever call Pelecanos a 'great' writer. His stories are not epic, he doesn't write particularly quotable dialogue and I won't necessarily remember any particular book years from now (except for Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go-- good book & best title ever-- and King Suckerman-- just plain badass). Pelecanos has, however, definitely earned his place as a 'damned good' writer. His plots are tight and bullshit-free (David Baldacci and a gazillion others could learn from him), his characters are real and the man knows how to put his readers at the scene. He sees the details, not only in setting but in the ways people interact with each other. He pays attention, and he has the rare ability to transmit his observations without the excess that so many other writers use to pad the page. What makes him unique in my experience & what I look forward to in each of his books is his ability to write a soundtrack for his stories-- he has what seems to be an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music from the 60s through the early 90s. I've learned more about old school R&B (the good stuff, not the modern crap) through his stories than I ever did through a radio....more
My favorite parts of this book are the title page, where we are informed that it was "Previously published as Shattered Icon"; and page 153 where theMy favorite parts of this book are the title page, where we are informed that it was "Previously published as Shattered Icon"; and page 153 where the chapter opens as follows:
I now picture people playing a game a lot like Marco Polo, with an 80s pop icon instead of a 13th century trader.
Just because it's "literature" don't mean I gotta like it. Reading this was like having sandpaper-coated knitting needles rammed through my psyche. GrJust because it's "literature" don't mean I gotta like it. Reading this was like having sandpaper-coated knitting needles rammed through my psyche. Granted, I might now have a different opinion from the one I had twenty-odd years ago, but I'm not reading it again unless I get paid. In advance....more
Warning: Potential spoilers and kinetic bad attitude follow.
When will I learn? I'm a sucker for this type of book, and, in keeping with the metaphor,Warning: Potential spoilers and kinetic bad attitude follow.
When will I learn? I'm a sucker for this type of book, and, in keeping with the metaphor, this type of book usually ends up sucking. Big time. I hoped that someone with the bibliographic chops of Eric Van Lustbader might actually be able to write a tense, action-packed conspiracy thriller. Maybe I should have thought for a few minutes about why he's been writing Jason Bourne (Robert Ludlum's creation) books for the past five years. Running out of original ideas much?
So. If you're going to rip off The Da Vinci Code take the time to do a better job. The bar really isn't that high. Let's compare:
Da Vinci Code: Professor with a background in art history/symbology meets up with the granddaughter of a museum curator during the investigation of said curator's murder. While dying from a bullet to the belly, the curator, who also just happened to be a high-ranking member of a secret society and one of the last guardians of a big hoo-hah church secret, managed to leave clues around parts of the Louvre and elsewhere to guide his granddaughter and her compatriot in their search to uncover the secret (which is being sought after by a rival faction). It is revealed during the story that grandfather (who raised the granddaughter) constantly trained granddaughter in solving complex codes & puzzles, hence her life as a code-breaker. Repeated use of flashbacks to explain why the characters know everything about everything, ever (but take forever to figure to hold a mirror up to an 'unknown language' which is actually English written backward).
Testament: Adult son is injured in explosion that kills his father. His father, who just happened to be a high-ranking member of a secret society and one of the last guardians of a big hoo-hah church secret, managed to leave clues all over creation leading son to a young woman (who is trained to protect members of said secret society) and to guide his son and his compatriot in their search to uncover the secret (which is being sought after by a rival faction). It is revealed during the story that father constantly trained son in solving of complex codes & puzzles, as well as medieval history, church history, and martial arts bad-assery, hence his life as a merchant banker or some such thing because he was absolutely clueless about what his father actually did. Repeated use of flashbacks to explain...hell, they really don't seem to have much of a point other than to show how much son misses dad and how swell dad was.
Also offensive: the bad guys are basically waiting for the protagonist to solve the puzzles and lead them to the not-so-mysterious treasure (it's revealed early on what it is; the where is the mystery that blowed up with dad). They always seem to be three steps ahead of him, yet he never stops to think that maybe his friends aren't what they seem. He has the infallible ability to believe the wrong thing immediately about almost everyone he meets, i.e., violently rejecting someone who he believes to be a traitor (who is actually trying to help him) while openly embracing those who are using him and mean to eventually cause him harm. He may be Mr. Smartypants Cryptanalyst, but he also manages to be a colossal knuckle-headed douche.
The most annoying thing of all however, is on page 34. Pre-explody Dad, on his way to meet pre-explody son, has just survived an attack by the opposition:
"So, despite all his precautions, they knew his location. Perhaps not so surprising, considering the meticulous planning behind the concerted attacks of the past two weeks...."
A mere two paragraphs later, he arrives at the café where he is to meet his son:
"His son hadn't arrived as yet so he asked the pale question mark of a woman at the podium for an outdoor table. At the tiny metal table, he sat in the sun...."
People are trying to assassinate him. So he sits outside in the sun. It's a wonder he lived long enough to spawn in the first place. Why is this the most annoying part? Because this is where I should have put the book down and started another. Learn from my mistakes, people....more
Fun concept, but the author has problems delivering on all the narrative promises he makes. Many a time I was expecting an Ass-Whupping Extravaganza wFun concept, but the author has problems delivering on all the narrative promises he makes. Many a time I was expecting an Ass-Whupping Extravaganza which inevitably led to disappointment. I actually agree with much of what Jason says in his review/shredfest below, but I have a soft spot (probably on the back of my head) for off-the-grid adventures and, ok, fine, chicks with swords. But if the second book isn't flat out amazing I'll probably bin the series, as well as John Twelve Hawks....more
Another GR reviewer wrote: "There's been a terrible mix-up. Author Duane Swierczynski seems to have submitted this screenplay to a publishing house, anAnother GR reviewer wrote: "There's been a terrible mix-up. Author Duane Swierczynski seems to have submitted this screenplay to a publishing house, and it somehow got printed and marketed as a book."
...and she is dead on. I like Swierczynski's sense of the absurd, and this book had the potential to be really fun in a day-at-work gets all crazy-ass psycho-violent sense. It did not live up to that potential, however. The separate story threads never really come together in a worthwhile fashion and the ending is enough of a joke to make the staunchest adherents to the deus ex machina school cringe....more
This was...how do I put it? So unremittingly awful I couldn't finish it. I took it back to the library, and though thankful that I had spent no moneyThis was...how do I put it? So unremittingly awful I couldn't finish it. I took it back to the library, and though thankful that I had spent no money on it, I was still hoping to come up with some way to be compensated for lost minutes. I failed, and now live with the knowledge that I could have spent that time smelling flowers, cavorting through meadows, patting puppies on the head or maybe even reading something with higher quality prose-- like obituaries, the nutritional information on a cereal box or even Missed Connections on craigslist. Feh....more