Title: The Da Vinci Code
Author: Dan Brown
Page Count/Review Word Count: 605
It’s time. It’s the best-selling novel of one of the world’s best-selling authors. It’s The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, the book that made a star of the writer and which went on to become a Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Odds are that if you’re a reader, you’ve read it. And if you’re on this site in the first place, you’re probably a reader.
Dan Brown’s tale of the Illuminati follows Harvard professor Robert Langdon and symbologist Sophie Neveu as they struggle to decipher an ancient mystery – it’s a typical Dan Brown novel, really. Langdon’s background as a symbologist is a necessity – the path is strewn with puzzles hidden in artwork, and it’s through this that Langdon has the symbologic savvy to understand how each of the pieces of the jigsaw fits together.
And, like all of Brown’s novels, there’s a twist – see, it turns out that Jesus had a ‘thing’ with Mary Magdalene, and after his death his bloodline continued throughout the ages. Problem is, certain people don’t want that to become common knowledge, and Langdon and Neveu need to stay alive for long enough to figure out what it is that they’re sitting on and to make it public.
Another central plot line is the eventual discovery of the Holy Grail, the wooden cup that Jesus drank from at the last supper. Except, that’s not actually what the Grail is – but I’ll be quiet, I don’t want to spoil it for you all. It’s one of those books that you ought to read anyway, just because of its popularity.
It’s not a bad book though, and it’s one of only two Dan Brown novels that I could actually recommend. As much as we all love to hate him, Brown is still a master wordsmith and a man who literally taught on the subject. He started writing much later than most as well, after dabbling as a musician.
Predictably, the book managed to draw attention to the Opus Dei and to come under fire from Christian associations across the world – many called for the book to be banned. Ever heard of the Streisand Effect? It’s a phenomenon that’s named after Barbara Streisand, who tried to suppress aerial photographs of her house. This attempt at censorship alerted people to the problem in the first place, driving the whole thing to much greater heights than it could previously have reached. In part, the book’s success is surely down to the right-wingers who tried to censor it, thus increasing the desire to read it in the first place.
As for the conspiracy element of the story, well – we all love a good theory, don’t we? I find conspiracy theories as interesting as the next man, but I’m slightly hesitant to believe them. I’ve seen too many low-budget documentaries to believe everything that I see and hear.
Of course, it doesn’t matter whether you believe it in the long run – you just need to suspend your disbelief for long enough to sit out the story. That’s pretty easy, because Brown’s writing is lucid and communicative – he’s not a bad writer, despite the occasional scientific and historical inaccuracies.
Overall, it’s a recommendation from me, ’cause it’s the kind of book that anyone can enjoy. It makes you feel clever, too – I have a feeling that that has something to do with the book’s popularity. It’s the kind of book that people read to complete their quota of a book a year.