So I honestly want to give the book three stars. What I enjoy about Brown is how he can write almost 600 pages of a book and I get almost to the end and realize that it has taken place all in the space of one day. As a writer, I would love to be able to do that. The weaving of religious and scientific themes into an adventure set in European locales is also right up my alley.
What I don't like... and why I am forced to drop down to two stars (just a few examples):
That same time stretching often results in a parceling of time that is terribly irritating - most of the book actually isn't just in less than one day but in about four to five hours. Unfortunately, in one part of the book, given twenty minutes, the protagonists can, say, drink tea and eat scones, talk at length about their theories about what's happening, run from one location to another, save someone, and research an important historical fact. But during another twenty minutes, they don't seem to have enough time to, say, run the length of a block and enter a building. It must be difficult as an author to keep track of this sort of incongruity but this is Brown's special trick and it's irritating that he can't follow his own rules. It needs to be either one way or the other but not both.
Every few chapters, he seems to feel the need to reintroduce his main protagonist by first and last name, "Robert Langdon stood in front of the church..."; like we haven't met this character yet for every single paragraph for the last 126 chapters (and no, I'm not exaggerating on the numbers of chapters).
This really, really frustrating thing where the protagonist, Langdon, is this brainy professor that can supposedly figure out these relatively obscure, secret messages hidden by other brainy men hundreds of years ago in order to save the world... and yet he can't figure out the REALLY obvious things right in front of his face. I was listening to this on audiobook and I SWEAR, I kept expecting a three year old child to pipe up from somewhere in the back of the crowd, saying, "Oh, come on, mister! You can't see that? Seriously? Aren't you supposed to be the hero? Even I can see that!!
And, finally, lines like, "The silence that followed might as well have been thunder." Um, what... honestly, what? Is this Brown's version of "A thunderous silence followed..."?
It's really rather frustrating because I honestly think that in many ways Brown is rather talented; in some of his plotting, the details, the ideas he pulls together. I just wish that in other ways - the writing, some characterization, he could catch up with his other abilities.
After reading The Da Vinci Code, I was going to read both this and Digital Fortress but I do believe I will stop here... wishing I could tip it over to the three stars.