Susan's Reviews > Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
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Aug 19, 2011

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bookshelves: thrillers
Read in May, 2009

As soon as I finished Angels & Demons, I started feeling guilty--and a bit two-faced. You see, I've been telling anyone who would listen (my poor husband, mainly), about Dan Brown's atrocious writing style. Nearly every page was riddled with exaggerated descriptions, cartoon-like characterizations, implausibilities (even for a thriller), and just plain clumsiness.

But I am forced to admit that I turned those pages pretty rapidly--maybe a hundred a day near the end. After all, I had to find out if Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and CERN physicist Vittoria Vetra would find the stolen antimatter hidden deep within the Vatican walls by the defunct-but-seemingly-resurrected religion-hating, science-loving, Freemason-infiltrating Illuminati cult. Was I going to let Mr. Brown's frequent references to his characters "looking" mad, angry, confused, impressed, stupified, insulted, etc. keep me from learning more about an organization to which George H.W. Bush, Galileo, and Cecil Rhodes were supposedly linked? Not on your life. And this does much to explain why Mr. Brown has earned so much money from his novels that he can afford to bail out a hapless financial institution or two. He can tell a story.

Angels & Demons is stitched together with just enough historical and scientific facts to get me to buy its shaky premise and continue reading. (Of course, maybe--probably--I'm just gullible). I am not a theologian, a physicist, an art historian, nor a Harvard "symbologist"--but I kinda like learning about that stuff without having to do any heavy lifting by cracking open a Bible or a physics book. Mr. Brown's strange brew of all these disciplines, plus his masterful juggling of characters, plot threads, and time constraints managed to pique my interest. I admit that I was dying to know if Langdon's extensive knowledge of Italian baroque sculpture would save the day and prevent further bloodshed in Rome.

A & D is a good summer beach read (though it's a rainy Chicago spring). It will redeem itself if I follow through on my vow to become reacquainted with Galileo's travails and to learn more about Bernini, antimatter, and the Freemasons--all through the magic of Wikipedia.

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Reading Progress

05/01/2009 page 29
4.07%
06/16/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Julia Batalla I'm so glad you're reading this! Can't wait to hear what you have to say - and we'll need to see the movie as soon as it opens.


Susan It seems just a bit sci-fi and thus somewhat different from the DVC. I'm thinking of that supersonic aircraft that took him from Boston to Geneva in an hour.


message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve I see your point, Susan. Despite poor writing a book can redeem itself if it engages you in some other way. And this Brown guy does seem to know how to keep a story going. Plus, from what you described, he was able to tie together some interesting elements. Now you’ve got me curious about antimatter and freemasonry, too. I may or may not read the book to see how they relate in the story, but I can tell you that the site I visited about famous Freemasons does not count GHW Bush among them. Evidently Brown got this wrong. The Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale is not related. However, if you’re looking for 4-letter Republicans to include, you’ve got Dole, Ford, Kemp, and even Taft to choose from. George Washington was also a member, as were the Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin D.). Winston Churchill was among their ranks, as well. The British Isles are well-represented, in fact. Some of the other notable names are: Mel “What’s up, Doc” Blanc , Davy Crockett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Duke Ellington, Houdini, Roy Rogers, and Colonel Sanders. Is it possible that the secret ingredient that gives the Colonel’s spicy chicken its little extra kick is antimatter? (Sorry, that’s a stretch even by Dan Brown’s standards, and my own.)

I liked your review, Susan--good observations and cleverly written. It was a more-clicker*. Thanks for sharing!

*More-clicker is my own Goodreads-specific coinage. It's analogous to page-turner.



Susan I'm laughing as I type this--I can just imagine your eyes lighting up and the wheels churning as you thought up some smart-alecky comment about fried chicken as soon as you saw that the Colonel was a Freemason!

Thanks for your kind compliments, especially for sharing that long list of Masons. The real mystery, however, is which of these Masons were secretly members of the Illuminati, who were ever so good at infiltrating organizations and insidiously furthering their own anti-religious impulses...but enough of that. Bring on David Copperfield!


Erin This review made me so happy. I actually liked the book for all the reason you (so much more pointedly described) while feeling guilty. But hey, who cares - it WAS (for me) a couple of good New Orleans winter evenings well-spent. Although now I am regretting my extra star as I had just finished reading a dull book and maybe got too enthusiastic about this one. Three stars pegs it.


Susan Erin, I'm glad I'm not the only one whose feelings about A & D range from enjoyment to guilt! As far as the appropriate # of stars, A & D was definitely not dull and there's a lot to be said for that!


Laura Denmar Agreed. I'm the kind of snob who scoffs when someone tells me how much they love Dan Brown, and yet now I've read 3 of his books...each in less than 3 days. I really enjoy his books so is it even that relevant how 'well' they're written?


message 8: by Susan (last edited Jul 21, 2014 08:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan Your comment speaks to the issue--which we all wonder about--about exactly what it means to write "well" or to be a "good writer." We all agree that Dan Brown doesn't write like a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, but there's a LOT to be said for being able to tell a story. I tried to write a mystery once (I plead temporary insanity), and it was really tough to keep things logical and flowing. So I give Dan Brown plenty of credit for what he can do instead of taking off points for what he can't.


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