Sunday, May 17, 2009

Angels & Demons: Dan Brown

First of all, I want to apologize for being away from the blog for so long. I've had computer issues, and then I went on vacation. Needless to say, I've got a lot of catching up to do!

Dan Brown, the author of the well-known The DaVinci Code, actually wrote Angels & Demons first. This first novel of his is quite a bit darker than his other more publicized work. I was fortunate enough to catch a bit of an interview with Ron Howard and the main characters of the upcoming film and gained some insight into why The DaVinci Code was produced first. For one thing, as I noticed in my own readings, Angels & Demons jumps into the story without much character development of Robert Langdon. Whether that was intentional or if Brown simply became a more developed writer is unknown. In any case, Ron Howard felt that exposing the public to Robert Langdon in full dose by releasing Angels & Demons first, the audience would feel little empathy for a character who was basically a stranger. In The DaVinci Code, Howard was careful to help Tom Hanks fill out the character, and now, when we see him in Angels & Demons, he is a real person to us.

I think most important to note about this novel is that the Catholic church is no longer in direct light. It would be a simple overstatement to say that Angels & Demons is a story of good vs. evil, or wrong and right existing together to keep the checks and balances in place. This volume has a personal attachment that I didn't really feel from The DaVinci Code. The fact that this story involves men of the cloth isn't a condemnation because these men are drawn up as real people. The human element of this novel makes the murder and mystery all the more involved, and less about faith than it is about some of the basic human instincts.

To give a brief overview, Langdon is called in as a Symbologist Extraordinaire to help identify the creator of an Illuminati sign. What begins as an identification turns into a global manhunt. Meanwhile, a form of antimatter has been invented, and consequently stolen and is now being used as a weapon against Vatican City. It's a fascinating story from page one, if not slightly predictable once you get acquainted with all of the characters.

I enjoyed Angels & Demons, though I have to say, I think I preferred The DaVinci Code. Everyone told me that Angels & Demons was the better of the two novels, so I expected something to knock my socks off. I liked it, but I was far more intrigued by the mysteries of The DaVinci Code.