After years of resisting reading it, I was peer-pressured into giving “Angels and Demons” a try. “It’s okay to enjoy a crappy book,” I was assured. “Stop taking pride in not reading [it],” I was reprimanded. “I hated myself every page I turned, because it embodies everything I hate about contemporary fiction–no writing style to speak of, characters are stilted and one-dimensional, with every thought or emotion simply spelled out for you–but dang it, the man knows how to keep you turning the page.” I’m not afraid of reading new material and giving it a chance. If I hadn’t given my aunts’ Mills and Boon romance collections a shot, I would never have been exposed to that genre and discovered now long time loves Elizabeth Lowell, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard. So, I did it. I read it. I regretted it.
Although it was entertaining enough for me to complete the book (it took me many years to give myself permission to drop a book if it was no good and I’m not turning back now), I winced the whole ride through and I can’t say I’d recommend it to anyone. I know I’m not the first to ask this (especially years and years after the books have been out and raking in the ducats) but, seriously, people, how did this guy get to be such a literary blockbusterer? His writing is atrocious and suspect. This list of Dan Brown’s “20 worst sentences” doesn’t do it justice. The book is saturated with ellipses, italics, and cliff-hangers; so much so that I could barely concentrate on the plot. I like mysteries and suspense and puzzles as much as the next gal. When I was old enough to choose my own library books, I always gravitated towards Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and later Agatha Christie and Martha Grimes. I even purchased Mensa puzzles and subscribed to Games Magazine. When one of my favorite cartoons, Gargoyles, delved into the mysterious world of the Illuminati, I was enthralled. I was not enthralled with this book. The suspense was totally manufactured and rather than keeping me on the edge of my seat, made me want to leave my seat to find something else to read. The only thing that really appealed to me were the ambigrams which are attributed to John Langdon, not Dan Brown.
If I could be confident that the bits of trivia sprinkled throughout the book were authentic, I could at least be pleased that I was learning something. With errors galore, I couldn’t trust anything and so just got bored and annoyed. What if, during a conversation about art/history/religion, I utter the phrase, “I thought I read somewhere that [insert false fact]” and then have to close my eyes in disgust when I remember that the source was this sloppy book? At least with my romance gals, I learn something true and interesting. Need to brush up on gemology? Elizabeth Lowell’s Donovan series will teach you fascinating things about amber, jade, pearls, and rubies (for diamonds, you can turn to The Diamond Tiger). Ever want some good tips on how to survive a plane crash in the snow-peaked mountains? Linda Howard’s Ice does the trick. Interested in (futuristic) police procedure? Nora Roberts’ (writing as J.D. Robb) Eve can tell you all you need to know in the In Death series. I could go on and on listing books that were better than this one but I’ve already wasted too much time thinking about it. I told myself: “the book was badly written but the plot was decent. Maybe, in someone else’s hands, it could be salvaged. Maybe the movie is better.” I lied.