Books I Loathed discussion

Loathed Titles > A dark and stormy night...(Da Vinci Code)

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message 1: by Cal (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Cal | 3 comments I can't believe The Da Vinci Code (or anything by Dad Brown) hasn't been added to this list yet. I am trying to think of a book I have read recently with as many cliches and formulaic bad guys.

More than anything, this book should be looked at as an inspirational book to everyone with an idea for a novel rattling around in their head. If Mr. Brown can get The Da Vinci Code published, then we should all be able to get something published.

message 2: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
Was the code stuff at least fun? Or was it all bad?

I like your "inspirational" comment. I regularly go to the bookstore to remind myself that, SURELY, I can write a book, and it might even be better than a lot of other books.

message 3: by Cal (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Cal | 3 comments If by code you mean the "riddle" they needed to solve, then no. I am not trying to be snarky; there are a lot of formulaic books out there that I like (Louis L'Amour, early Clancy, Jane Austin), but Brown's work just rubbed me the wrong way.

message 4: by Teresa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Teresa | 6 comments Curiously have you read some of his other work that is unrelated to the DaVinci Code?

I actually liked DaVinci Code (Which is actually a sequal and a lot of people miss that fact) but that's just a quirk of mine. I dug up some info and read some other stuff by him.

Might I Suggest Deception Point if you havn't tried it? It's a different set of characters and less about code breaking but it shows another side of his writting style.

message 5: by Cal (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Cal | 3 comments I haven't read Deception Point, but I did read Digital Fortress. Now I like a good fantasy book, but only when it is intended as fantasy. I can tell you from first hand experience (I am a research scientist for a major university working in the area of computer exploitation and digital forensics) that the technical merits of his book were laughable.

Now not everyone can be Neal Stephenson (read Cryptonomicon if you want excellent "tech" fiction), but some research would have been helpful.

message 6: by Teresa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Teresa | 6 comments I haven't read Digital Fortress...I couldn't get a copy when I went through my everything about Stephen Brown phase (I do that with a lot of authors I'm afraid). I like Deception point because of the mix of politics form both sides involved. I know it had some far fetched ideas in it but it wasn't so awful I couldn't stomach it.

Ya know - I tried cryptonomicon a couple times and couldn't really dig into it. I'll have to try again now that I'm working in a more IT based arena and have a better understanding of computer technology and it's limitations/capabilities.


message 7: by christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

christina I haven't read a single DB book and don't plan to. I don't understand his allure. is it too simplistic? the anti-thought provoking set of novels? when I think of him, I think of a slew of others I refuse based on principle to pick up: Michael Crichton, et al. Plus, the movie had Tom Hanks with hair a'la the 1980s. and not in the endearing Splash / Joe v. the Volcano sort of way. arghh!!

message 8: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Jennie | 7 comments The Da Vinci code was the only book I could reach one Christmas when I threw out my back, and I still almost didn't read it. I think my pain medication made it better than it really was.

message 9: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) those 'codes' were very, very easy. no challenge at all.

the premise was recycled from holy blood, holy grail (a truly awful book deserving of its own thread in this forum).

what i resented the most, what what happened outside the book. i'm all for literacy and generally take a 'if it gets them to read' approach, but the obsessiveness with this book drove me nuts. TV specials? endless dissections of the abstracts in the plot? give me a break!

message 10: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Christina | 17 comments I have to admit, I listened to the DaVinci Code unabridged on CD before actually reading the book. I found it entertaining, but not completely thought provoking. I decided to look at some of the source texts for the theories Brown was bantering, and there are a few that I still have to set time aside to read.

What was utterly ridiculous was the hype surrounding the movie. The DaVinci code Diet?!? Please. Tracking down every possible Catholic priest or Cardinal to ask insulting, juvenile questions for shock value. Spare me.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to admit, I found some of what Dan Brown tossed around in The DaVinci Code to be interesting, mostly because I have almost no knowledge of alternative religious history and therefore hadn't heard of any of these "theories" before.

Angels & Demons on the other hand baffled me. The entire premise of the book rested on the notion that scientists had discovered a way to create something out of nothing, in other words had managed to make God unnecessary - at least in the eyes of the Church. The problem is that, as I recall, they DID have something - a particle. Yes, it was a single teeny tiny itty bitty particle but it was still a particle, which makes it something, not nothing. So boom, the whole premise of the book collapses. Did anyone else notice this? Did I imagine it?

Plus the writing was bad.

message 12: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) I didn't like that book (Angels & Demons) much, though I find Dan Brown's writing to be like a good parlor trick. He'll get you while you're looking the other way. If you have a few hours of life to waste, there are worse things you could read. And yet, I always walk away feeling I was scammed somehow...

message 13: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments I didn't loathe the DaVinci Code or Angels & Demons but I did consider them both to be "junk food reading" - which is basically the book equivalent of a t.v. sitcom or procedural drama. Sometimes I need brainless reading. I'm also a big fan of any kind of religious mystery/secret society/conspiracy. Sick, I know...but I WAS raised Catholic. LOL!!

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I think it was Jim Thompson who said there's really only 1 basic plot to all books. That is: Nothing is as it seems. As far as I'm concerned, that about sums up the DaVinci Code for me as well as Angels and Demons (I read both - finished them too!). If we look at the best seller list we are to assume that Dan Brown is a good writer - he's got two books on the paperback best seller list, so we can't go wrong in choosing him to read. If that isn't a wonderful example of "nothing is as it seems", I don't know what is. :)

I will give Brown this much -- he figured out how to write page turners. It's just that some readers weren't very impressed with what they found when they turned that page.

message 15: by Samantha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

Samantha (asteroidbuckle) | 3 comments I'll tell ya. The thing that annoyed me the most about The Da Vinci Code was the implied (or maybe not-so-implied) romance between Langdon and the woman (Sophie?). Why do characters of the opposite sex always have to "get together"? Grrr...

message 16: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

Jessica I actually sort of enjoyed The Da Vinci Code when read during the heavy jet-lag portion of a vacation. It was junky, sure, but skillful junk that distracts from the junkiness of it until it's finished. Basically, a ripping yarn. I was hoping for more of the same with Angels & Demons and the one about the matter from outer space, but they just pretty much stunk without the fun of a couple of hours of escapism.

message 17: by Milly (last edited Dec 21, 2007 09:21PM) (new)

Milly | 2 comments The Da Vinci Code aside, I'd like to take a minute here to, um, comment (shall we say) on Angels & Demons. More specifically on why it makes me want to wail and beat my fists against the ground and gnash my teeth and pull out my hair. Really.

The science here is... oh, I don't even know where to begin. An antimatter bomb? *weeps* I've worked at CERN, and I can say with no reservations that this is just utterly and completely unphysical. It's painfully obvious that he's way, way out of his depth here. And it's kind of insulting.

1) Antimatter is not going to hurt you. I promise. In fact, antimatter is produced all the time in the form of virtual particles. It's perfectly real, it's just hard to come by in a lab. The point is that antimatter lasts for extremely small periods of time in the real world.

2) Yes, as soon as antimatter (positrons, antiprotons, etc.) collides with matter, the two annihilate to form light. But there are lots and lots and lots of electrons, and not many positrons. So as soon as a positron comes along, it collides with the electron and disappears. Trust me, you're not going to notice one electron if it goes missing.

3) Let's be reasonable here. Please. Containing antimatter in a canister? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT VACUUM. Period. End of story. So not only could you not build such a bomb, but it would decay and be totally useless.

4) To elaborate on that last point, electric and magnetic fields aren't going to cut it. When an accelerator produces antimatter, it's contained in something close to a vacuum (and no, that's not "close enough" to a perfect vacuum - my point still stands) and controlled by electric and magnetic fields. But this is an enormous undertaking, requiring huge infrastructure (including personnel) and expense, and particles have to be constantly replenished. Explain to me again how we think this bomb comes about?

4) To be honest, particle accelerators lose the beamline fairly often. They're underground for exactly this reason. Losing the beamline means that antimatter will collide with the sides of the accelerator, that it will "escape". But even with huge numbers of particles (the luminosities achieved by particle accelerators like CERN are really impressive, and could never, ever be found in some already-impossible canister) the ground soaks up the radiation and NOBODY DIES. Nobody gets hurt. Nothing happens. And before you ask, an accelerator would never be built above ground - how would you test it before using it to smite your enemies? And are you honestly telling me that the supervillian is going to invest millions in a weapon that requires him to say: "Um, excuse me sir. I'd like you to stand right here so I can irradiate you." Yeah.


message 18: by Stewart (new)

Stewart (thebookstopshere) | 7 comments This was the review I wrote of The Da Vinci Code a good few years back when I read it. It's one of only two reviews I've written that I decided not to put on my book review blog:

The success of The Da Vinci Code is certainly a literary anomaly. Both unexpected and unexplainable, the sheer volume of sales is surprising as the book is not, in my opinion, well written, intelligent, or original.

It begins in Le Louvre, Paris, with some of the clumsiest writing I've ever seen. Classics such as describing the eyes and hair colour of a silhouette are par for the course here as a museum curator of considerable renown (and how many curators have you heard of?) is murdered. From there, enter our cardboard hero, Robert Langdon, who will solve the mystery armed only with a similarly cardboard French girl and the author's help. Off he goes solving puzzles you and I solved pages ago (sometimes even chapters) despite us laymen not being schooled in his esoteric field. Throw in a couple of lame baddies, a historical secret, and the 'thrill' of the chase and you have The Da Vinci Code.

The book is fast paced, its 500 plus pages are quickly digested, although this is because the author writes such short chapters that there's a lot of blank space when one chapter ends a few lines into the page. Throughout, it uses one plot device: the cliffhanger. Fair enough, it gets you reading through the book but the author could have used more literary tactics in order to develop his story.

There are a number of places, however, where the book falls down: the writing, the characters, and the history. At times, it seems, Brown has raided a factbook of dubious authenticity and tried to cram as much of its content into his book without even deliberating over its relevance to the story at hand.

Firstly, the writing: It's simple and unemotional. There are many clumsy instances where the author says something which is simply not possible (see the silhouette comments above) or jars i.e. 'Silas prayed for a miracle and little did he know that in two hours he would get one'. You are left wondering if the author is, in parallel to the dubious facts, trying to squeeze in as much content as possible from his Little Book of Bad Cliches.

The characters, despite travelling with them for the duration of the book, never developed. They 'ooh-ed and ah-ed' their way through the startling revelations and that's about it. Their dialogue was intolerable, at times, and there were occasions when you just couldn't believe what was coming out of their mouths: Englishman saying 'soccer', French girl saying 'spring break'. It's Americanism after Americanism with these people despite only one character being American; surely, if you do as much research as Dan Brown claims to have done, you would find out how your characters speak. Another ‘joy’ is the utter shock on one character's face - who has just been told a stream of pseudo-history wher she hardly flinched- as she learns that 'rose' is an anagram of 'Eros'.

It's the facts, however, that really let this book down. It claims from the start that a number of things (such as art, documents, locations) are accurate which, with the author's supposed research, you hope to believe. And then you are inundated with Paris the wrong way around, the wrong police forces running about, French cops commanding the British cops, England being the only country in Europe where they drive on the left (conveniently forgetting Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cyprus, and Malta), and other such nonsense as British knights carrying ID cards which pronounce them above the law.

That's the errors but, as I've said before, there are times when you feel the author is just including stuff to pad the book. Common sentences are 'Robert Langdon was surprised how many people didn't actually know...this or that' or 'Robert Langdon often smiled when he thought about how few people knew...this or that'. Place descriptions don't fare much better, unfortunately, as they are out of the story's context and read like 'copy and pastes' from tourist websites.

The pace, I enjoyed. The book, I didn't. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco covered this topic back in the 1980s - it's nothing new. Brown is just recycling the poor The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail as fiction. Bad history meets bad fiction - it's a marriage made in Heaven.

If you want some no-brain beach reading - and haven't read this yet - then give it a try; it's airport tat! Don't, however, believe a word of it, as it is, for the most part, nonsense. If, however, you are looking for a great novel that deals with similar topics, and has a great reread potential, then read the aforementioned Foucault's Pendulum - it's superior in every way.

message 19: by Judy (new)

Judy (judy5cents) | 26 comments I enjoyed "The Da Vinci Code," mostly because by the time I got around to reading it, I'd heard it trashed by so many people that my expectations were extremely low. As a result, I was surpised to find it wasn't half bad, the plot moved along fairly well and there were sufficient puzzles and twists to keep me reading until the end.

My biggest problem with this book is not what Brown said in it, or his claim it's based on historical fact, it's that so many people took it so seriously. It's all true! No, it's a pack of lies and Brown should burn in hell for such heresy! I read it as a work of fiction, just a bit of a light reading on a summer afternoon, and I didn't believe a word of it.

message 20: by Graceann (new)

Graceann (silentsgirl) "I read it as a work of fiction, just a bit of a light reading on a summer afternoon, and I didn't believe a word of it."

Same here - it certainly wasn't heavy literature, but then, that's not what I was looking for. The brouhaha over it reminds me of the nonsense that stirred up about ten years ago (maybe more now) about another novel, The Celestine Prophecy. Does anyone else remember that novel and the "life changes" that it was supposed to inspire? No, me either, and I suspect that in 2018, nobody will remember much about The Da Vinci Code and all the attendant fuss.

message 21: by Sean (new)

Sean Little (seanpatricklittle) Dan Brown makes me furious. I want him to reimburse me for the money I spent to buy "Angels and Demons"--which I only bought because my grandfather was a collector of medieval ambigrams. I made the mistake of reading "Da Vinci" because a friend loaned it to me. It was the EXACT SAME BOOK AS ANGELS AND DEMONS! Brown owes me about 7 hours of my life back, as far as I'm concerned.

I read the book he ripped "Code" from and I tend to agree with a lot of theory. Brown's usage of it was poor, to say the least.

I don't know if he should burn in Hell like Judy says...that might be a little harsh...but, the American public should get a caveat before his next Langdon book. I know I won't bother reading it.

message 22: by Jojobean (new)

Jojobean I love the book and Dan Brown

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