Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1)

ISBN: 1416524797
ISBN 13: 9781416524793
By: Dan Brown

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About this book

When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati ... the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church. Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival. Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair ... a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.

Reader's Thoughts

Danielle

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown was one of the best page-turners I have ever read. From the very beginning I couldn’t put it down. I did not know where Dan Brown would take the story next. Following the main character Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist on his first great adventure was breathtaking. I wanted to learn more, to know the secrets of the Illuminati and the only way to do it was to let the story naturally unfold as I read. I can usually guess what is going to happen in thrillers, but Dan Brown did a wonderful job keeping everything a mystery until absolutely necessary to reveal the secrets. I first read the book on a flight from Seattle to Rome, with a few places in between. Never having read the Da Vinci Code before hand I didn’t have as high of expectations as most people do when going to read Angels and Demons. I have often heard that the Da Vinci Code is much better than Angels and Demons but I disagree. Angels and Demons is Dan Brown at his best. I love how he took historical events, places, art and turned them upside down into a thriller that left me wanting more. Dan Brown not only wrote a good novel but he also brought up the old argument of Science vs. Religion. Both sides of the argument are thoughtfully brought up in Angels and Demons and in the end it is up to the reader to decide which side they believe is the right path for them. I love that he didn’t try and persuade the reader of his view on the subject but instead put the evidence and arguments out there for us to make up our own minds. Having traveled to Rome and seeing the places talked about in the novel Dan Brown did a wonderful job putting the readers in the places talked about. As I walked the path of Robert Langdon it seemed even more real to me that events as radical as the illuminati pulled off in the book could have actually happened, giving more power to the fast paced adventure.

Thomas

"Angels and Demons" is the prequel to the well-known "Da Vinci Code". Although the main character, Robert Langdon, appears in both novels, the plot is basically completely different. In Angels and Demons Robert is awakened in the middle of the night by a mysterious caller who tells him that a CERN scientist has passed away. Not just passed away, but murdered and branded on the chest as well. The man branded was named Leonardo Vetra, and he had just invented the substance "antimatter", which is basically an antimatter particle thing that is super powerful. Anyway, around the same time the antimatter goes missing, four cardinals from the Vatican church are abducted, and a bizarre murderer is on the loose. As you can see, there is a lot going on in this book.It is difficult to read two books that like "Angels and Demons" and the "Da Vinci Code", and not compare them, simply because they are so similar. It almost seems that Dan Brown was using Angels and Demons as a roughdraft for the Da Vinci Code, because the characters are oddly reminicsent, the plot follows the same formula, and the twist I predicted since the beggining. However, this book held my attention better than the Da Vinci Code, probably because there was less religious rambling and more action. My only real complaint is that the author seemed to twist time. The entire book took place in a timeset of four to five hours, and some places it uses 100 pages to describe 20 minutes worth of action, and then it took 10 pages to describe 45 minutes. What I'm trying to say is that it didn't flow as smoothly as I wanted it too. Probably worth a 3.5 rating... but not a 4.

Rachael

In the first, I don't know, 30 pages or so a character is "overwhelmed" by the smell of frozen urine. Frozen things don't smell, let alone overwhelmingly. Shortly thereafter an expert in religion (or whatever he is, I've tried to block it out) is shocked to see a study containing both scientific and religious items. I should have put the book down then, but then I would have missed unbelievable characters, hackneyed descriptions and spitting in the face of the laws of physics and physiology. Use the book to balance your wobbly kitchen table and read the back of your cereal box instead.

Ahmed

العلم والدين : ما العلاقة التى تربطهم ببعضهما العبض؟اتفاق؟ اختلاف؟ تشابه ؟ تعارض؟ لطالما كان هذا السؤال وهذه العلاقه محط الكثير من الانظار ومثار لكثير من الجدلوهنا يقدم لنا (براون) قصة مثيرة لبيان هذه العلاقممثله فى طائفه دينيه ما (الكاثوليكيه)والعلم ممثل فى جماعه قديمهكم معلومات مبهر مع غلق مثير للاحداثأحيانا تشعر ان دان براون هو الوريث الشرعى (لأجاثا كريستى ) فى مجال الجريمهعمل رائع فعلا

Mike Philbin

Angels and Demons is one of the most insidiously-constructed page turners I’ve ever read and unlike other such efforts (Richard Laymon’s IN THE DARK) I actually raced to the end of it rather than throwing the thing half-finished against the wardrobe in rage. Think of Hercules Poirrot. Think of Inspector Morse. Think of Agatha Christie. Once you strip all the character and soul from these genre writers you have Dan Brown. They all have in common the one writer trick, etirwer (the backwards rewrite). I don’t mean check a book for spelling and grammar. I mean write a basic plot line. Then go back. Adding in detail that will drive the narrative relentlessly towards what you sketched. Stuffing the book with glimpses of false trails and dead ends to keep the reader in the dark, so to speak. Confounding the reader in a way that will make him feel insignificant and meaningless.This, for me, is the worst of all genre writing tricks.Professor of Symbology Robert Langdon in his tweed and nuclear physicist Vittaria Vetra in her Lara Croft gear go in search of the thieves who killed Vittaria’s dad and stole the anti-matter from CERN and find themselves in what appears to be a travelogue of the more obscure bits of Vatican City. It reads just like that, a Treasure Hunt type of book. The reader is dragged along with teasing glimpses of THE TRUTH behind the religion and the war with science that has waged through the ages. But it could have all taken place in a virtual world like the internet or a library with mischievous librarians swapping cards around so old ladies can no longer find their Mills and Boons.Any good book should involve, include, confront or enrage the reader – this book cored out the reader’s personality so that by the end you didn’t care if there were 30 more pages yet to go as the final threads of the convoluted narrative finally unravelled.This book (maybe all Dan Brown books) should come with a mental health warning: At no point in the reading of this book was the reader in danger of thinking.An ultimately vacuous exercise in Franchise Management D.B. even sneaked in an early reference to the following Professor Langdon mystery The DaVinci Code. Enough already!

Manny

There's this argument you sometimes see, that Richard Dawkins spends a bit of time discussing in The God Delusion. Perhaps religion is all nonsense, it goes; but, when you consider how much great art it has inspired, surely that, on its own, is justification enough. Dawkins, you won't be surprised to hear, doesn't buy this, and thinks that people like Dante, Michelangelo and Hesse would have done great stuff even if they hadn't been inspired by the Church. He goes so far as to say that maybe they did in spite of the Church. I can see both sides of this, and I don't feel completely convinced either way. But let's get to the actual point.So, a couple of days ago, I was watching the movie of Angels and Demons. (The waterboarding hadn't worked out, and my interrogators were becoming a little desperate). Now, most likely it was aftereffects from the electric shocks and the attack dogs, but I couldn't help thinking that some parts of this film were rather good. The art direction and cinematography seemed well done; there were some excellent shots, which I'm still seeing clearly in front of me. I was particularly impressed by the beautifully composed scene in which Tom Hanks runs up a huge spiral staircase, overtaking a stately procession of red-robed cardinals; the anti-matter explosion at the end, with its Blake-like echoes of God speaking from the heavens, was also impressive. And Hanks, who just seemed to be thinking about his paycheck in The Da Vinci Code, had perhaps been stung by the negative reviews. This time, I thought he did a fine job. To my surprise, I actually started finding his interpretation of Professor Langdon interesting.Then it hit me. What a clever trick, and what an insidious post in that ongoing debate about Art and Religion! Here you had some people who, in fact, were quite gifted artists, and who could have done all kinds of things. What they were doing, though, was working on a film based on a mediocre religious book with a creaky treasure-hunt plot and wooden dialogue. Despite the problems they were faced with, they'd found some interesting and worthwhile angles. Maybe Dan Brown wasn't all bad. And, similarly... well, he'd really got me. Compared to this vicious, under-the-belt attach, Dawkins's comments seemed extremely moderate.No wonder Catholics don't much like Mr. Brown. I can't say I'm capable of enjoying his prose style; but, as a piece of conceptual art, I was forced to admire the passion and ingenuity. Three stars!

Gwenda

A fun but implausible romp. Falling out of a helicopter from 10,000 feet and receiving just a few bruises??? Really?

Christine

If you enjoy suspense and mystery novels like myself, Angels and Demons is a great novel. Dan Brown combines religion and science to create a rather controversial read. The story starts out by introducing us to Robert Langdon by awakening him with a phone call. Maximillian Kohler summons him to the science base, CERN, for his expertise of symbolism following the murder of their top researcher. He was branded with the mark of the Illuminati, an anti-religious cult that was believed to have died out years ago. So why kill a man of science? His research had proved the existence of God’s force, in creating dark matter. His murderer gruesomely accessed his work and stole away to Vatican City. Soon after a terrorist threat was made, with no demands, and four of the preferiti were kidnapped. The preferiti were the preferred elects for the pope election. Meanwhile, the chamberlain has to take care of the election and make orders to find the dark matter. Robert is also kept very busy attempting to decipher the ancient Illuminati clues to locate the four preferiti, who are under the threat of murder. With the help of the murdered scientists daughter, Vittoria Vetra, they race across Rome to arrive a few seconds late. The first of the preferiti was suffocated with dirt and branded with the ambigram of earth on his chest. At this point it’s impossible to put the book down. Brown’s use of mystery and riddles keeps you on the edge of your seat as you struggle along with Langdon to solve the puzzles. Personally, my favorite part is at the very end when the conflict of the dark matter is resolved, but the question of who is responsible for everything is still in question. Robert ends up jumping out of a helicopter to save his life, and that’s how he solves the final problem. The most unsuspected person turns out to be the bad guy and the return of the Illuminati was used as a scare tactic. Because Vittoria and Robert were dependent on each other for that 24-hour action packed day, they began to feel attached to one another. At the very end they spend a romantic night together in celebration of saving Vatican City. Unless you are sensitive about religious views, this book is a fun read and will make your brain work! Don’t expect to do anything else while your reading this book, since you simply can’t picture wanting to do anything else other than solve the mystery.

Rosey

Religion always was, is, has been, and always will be a very sensitive subject for me. However this book was a "battle" of religion and science. The storyline was engaging. I have to admit that the beginning was a bit slow, but as the book progressed, the pace really picked up to a point I pruned myself out in the bathtub finishing it. There was a page I found to be very thought-provoking."Religion is like language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices with which we were raised. In the end, though, we are all proclaiming the same thing."Langdon was intrigued. "So you're saying that whether you are a Christian or a Muslin simply depends on where you were born?""Isn't it obvious? Look at the diffusion of religion around the globe.""So faith is random?""Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end, we all are just searching for truth, that which is greater for ourselves." - page 110This does explain a lot of things for me... *pondering*

Jeana Warren

A quote from the book: "Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and...provided an array of gagetry for our convenience...but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies... Even the technology that unites us, divides us. We are electronically connected to the globe and yet we feel utterly alone. Skepticism has become a virtue. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses, and presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters God's world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning...and all it finds is more questions. The ancient war between science and religion is over. Science has won...Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car and only decades from the car to space... We measure scientific progress in weeks... The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual void. WE cry out for meaning... We see UFO's, have spirit contact, and out of body experiences... They are a desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology..."I KNOW! Too much, but when you can combine science and religion into a book that piques your intellect - it's a winner for me! :)

Mohammed Arabey

اولا الروايه دي لو حابب تتمتع وانت بتقراها بجد ليها حل من الاتنين1- تقرأ النسخه الانجليزيه المصوره Illustrated Edition او2- وانت بتقرا النسخه تكون فاتح جوجل صور وتكتب اسم كل مكان بيزوره روبرت لانجدون وكل قاعه في كنيسه او جداريه او تمثال وتشوف صورته علي النتده صوره من احد اغلفه الروايه اللي بيظهر فيها التماثل...محبتش احرق شكل الكلام المتماثل في الروايه بس جرب اقلب الصوره حتلاقي عنوان الروايه بيتقرا من فوق زي من تحتيمكن دي اول تجربه ليا في اني اقرأ روايه مليانه تفاصيل ومعلومات حقيقيه سواء علميه او دينيه او تاريخيه او حتي اثريه وسياحيه ..الاربعه مع بعض و كمان يعتبروا محتلين اكثر من ربع الروايه او ثلثها بدون مبالفه..مش كده بقي وبس ده كمان في اطار تشويقي فعلا يخليك مستني تعرف المعلومه اللي بعدها وتحاول تبحث عن حقيقتها او اصلها علي الانترنتعشان كده بنصح بالنسخه المصوره..لان صور الاماكن والاثار دي بتساعد وبشكل كبير جدا في حل لغز الروايه نفسهابلاش المعلومات .. الروايه نفسها اللي خلطت بعض الحقائق بقصه مثيره بتدور احداثها في يوم واحدفكره روايه اليوم واحد ده ممكن يبقي كارثه لاي روايه وباعث للملل او الفجوات لكن دان براون نجح انه يجعل الروايه مشوقه جدا مع عدم فقد الاحساس بالزمن وفي نفس الوقت بدون اقحام الساعه او الوقت في كل مشهدبالنسبه للشخصياترسم المؤلف الشخصيات بطريقه حقيقي مماثله لتقديمه للحقائق اللي في الروايه..بتشويق..بعمق..بتطور في كل شخصيه بيستمر علي مدار الاحداثكل شخصيه بتتعرف عليها خلال احداث الروايه بتعرف تاريخها وماضيها -بالاخص الابطال الاساسيين- وكمان دوافعها "قطره قطره" جزء جزء بطريقه تشويقيه بدرجه كبيرههناك شخصيات بالروايه الفيلم خسر كثيرا لعدم ظهورها او انتقاص دورها مثل الملك ماكس مدير الشركه العلميه المنتجه للماده المضاده وحتي ايضا شخصيتي الفريق الاعلامي لقنوات بي بي سيبالنسبه للاحداث الروايه متعدده وجهات النظر دائما تحتاج لبراعه في الكتابه لم يخلو بها هذا الكتابهناك صفه مميزه ان بعد كل كام فصل"في تلك الروايه الفصول كثيره جدا تتخطي التسعون"تجد شبه تذكير باحد الاحداث..او باحد المواقف او ابعاد شخصيه ما..التكرار جميل فهو قد يزيد من التركيز خاصا ان هناك الكثير من القطع في بعض المشاهد لالقاء الضوء علي حدث ما في ماضي الشخصيات سواء القريب او البعيد ..او قد يكون القطع بسبب معلومه تاريخيه او علميه او اثريه الا ان هذا التكرار كان يضايقني لان قرائتي الانجليزيه بطيئه بعض الشئ "الروايه اخدت مني وقت بجد لكن المهم طلعت بحصيله لغويه كبيره افتكر اني عرفت اكتر من 10 كلمات مختلفه كلهم معناهم رجال الدين :)" هناك ايضا رسم وتفاصيل المؤلف للاماكن او الاثار المسيحيه المكتظه بها روما والفاتيكان كان صعب احيانا تخيله لولا اني اقرا نسخه خاصه مصوره كنت تعبت بجد :(اما الافضل فكان النظام السينمائي المثير المكتوب به الروايه بالاخص تتابعات نهايه الروايه الذي شهد خلط مشاهد الفلاش باك سويا ومزجها مع الحدث الحاضر بطريقه غير مربكه بل مشوقه لدرجه تجعلك "علي حافه الكرسي"لمعرفه ما حدث في الماضي بالظبط ادي الي هذه الاحداث و الصراعات النفسيه لاحد الابطال.من روائع الروايه ايضا..خطابات الكامرلنجو "مش عارف معناها بالعربي بالظبط بس اللي هو راعي البابا وخادمه" اللي بيتكلم فيها عن صراع الدين والعلم .الصراع الابدي..من منتصف الروايه لاخرها هذا الصراع تم صياغته بطريقه ممتازه سواء في الخطب المباشره او المواقف اللي مر بيها اتنين من اهم الشخصيات بالروايه في ماضيهم.يمكن عجبتني جدا في الروايه فعلا ان الاحداث كلها في يوم واحد لاني بعشق الافلام اللي بالطريقه دي "طبعا للاسف في الحاله دي انا حزين اني شفت الفيلم قبل قراءه الروايه " وتقريبا دي اول مره اقرأ روايه بالنسبه لي تدور كلها في يوم واحد وتكون بهذا الحجم "ربما فقط احسست ان الشمس لم تغيب الا متاخرا جدا يمكن ده العادي في روما"في النهايه دي اول روايه اقرأها لدان براون واكيد مش الاخيره ..وتقيمي ليها بالرغم من انتقاص متعه القراءه بمعرفتي النهايه من مشاهده الملخص المختصر"الفيلم" الا ان مازال ان هناك مفاجات واثاره في الروايه و ايضا اعتقد ان تعاطفي مع الشخصيه "المفترض انها شريره" زاد بتتابعات النهايه.محمد العربيالاسكندريه 3 فبراير 2013الي 16 فبراير 2013

Miriam

I picked up this book because I wanted some mindless action with a fast-moving plot. This book was exactly the opposite: political, too much dialogue, and slow moving. At first the politics of the book intrigued me because Brown attempts to take on the clash between science and religion, however he seems to be completely ignorant about science and religion in the very ways that feed the clash between them. For example, he talks about cutting edge scientists studying the big bang. (Cutting edge scientists dismissed the big bang as unlikely several years ago.) He presents religious scientists as being motivated only by a desire to prove scientifically that God exists by showing that the big bang and Genesis are consistent. (Not all religious scientists feel the need to prove God exists. Why would any scientist, religious or not, think of the Bible as a scientific text book?) He shows religious people as fairly fanatical. (Which is sometimes the case, but usually not.) At first I thought that this book was going to try to bridge the cultural perceptions that science and religion aren't compatible, but by the end, I think the book only deepened the problem.Aside from that, the perspective in the book changes between at least 10 different characters who rehash material that has already been covered. It slows the book down whenever it seems to pick up even a little momentum. 150 pages could be cut easily without altering the plot even a little.Also, the horrific violence in this book, which should be shocking, never really is. I haven't thought about it enough to figure out why that is. Hmmm... poorly described...too many coincidences....overdone...hmm. Something along those lines. Overall, not a good read.

Joyzi

I can't put it down and read it in one day. I remember my mom was mad at me because I'm like, "I don't want to eat yet, I'm reading a book!" After that I ate lunch, at our table while still reading and I'm holding the book in my other hand and holding the spoon in my other hand. That's how good this book is.

Kira

** spoiler alert ** About a year and a half ago I was group-travelling across western Europe and in the interest of saving money, we forfeited airfares for rail and coach. This meant aching backs, exploding bladders, and as much sleep as fifteen teenagers can muster while sitting bolt-upright on a coach driving up a clay-soil hillside with no crash barrier and overzealous air conditioning.Driving up from Rome to Paris, intent on salvaging as much daylight as possible, we took the night train. The night train! Doesn't that sound like fun? Doesn't that sound like a huge adventure?"Best sleep I ever had," I was told. "You'll love the night train."I was lied to. The night train was like a bad mood on rails. In fact, just replace the word "train" with "mare" because that's pretty much what it was. We were stacked four to a room the size of a coat closet and forbidden to open our suitcases until we left the train. The bathrooms were like coffins with no toilet roll and seats that kept falling off, and doors that didn't lock, and the queues for the ladies' were like the fucking Danube. It was worse than the hole-in-the-wall showers with the saloon doors in Normandy two years earlier.When we got on the train in Rome, it was boiling hot. Even in pajamas, I was sweating. There were four duvets in our four-person room, but I was so unbelievably overheated that I donated mine to one of the other girls who complained about being freezing. The train rattled to a start, and I figured I'd get a great sleep. I'd be cool, and comfortable, and this would be the brilliant rest I was promised. Suddenly, the night train didn't seem so bad after all.I woke up halfway though Switzerland with feet like ice and rug burn from the carpet covering on my bunk. I sat up to try to grab a sweater from my suitcase but it was stowed where I had no hope of reaching it. The window had been left open, but I didn't know how to close it.I lay back on the bunk, sure that this was truly the worst sleep I had ever had. It was a non-sleep. It was worse than a non-sleep. It was a non-sleep with goosebumps and rug burn on my elbows, and what's more, afterwards, we spent an entire day zipping around Paris trying to keep our eyes open long enough to appreciate a dozen excruciatingly boring tour guides and hard, endless European rain (it has this cruel, cold quality to it, and it leaves your hair feeling filthy). Dan Brown is that person; the one who told me I'd have a great sleep on the night train. Though instead, he told me I'd really enjoy this book and that it was a complex, mysterious thriller.He lied, like the night train person lied. This book is the literary equivalent of rug burn on your elbows and trying to sleep in Switzerland with no fucking socks on.This book wants you to think that it's really adventurous and spiritual and intelligent when in actual fact it's like giving your duvet away, except your duvet is money, and trying to sleep on the bottom bunk on a rickety-sounding train with a bladder full of pee and a quiet certainty that the person on the bunk above you is going to break it and you're going to be crushed to death with no bra on in a foreign country, except the person above you is Dan Brown.Picture this: Robert Langdon, Harvard "symbologist" (let's put a pin in that one) is called to CERN to investigate the murder of a scientist, and then discovers that the murder is connected to an ancient secret society threatening to destroy the sacred Vatican City and murder four cardinals in the name of science.Then picture this: a bishop falls in love with a nun and they really want to bump uglies but they're supposed to be chaste so instead of having sex they decide to conceive a child (because having a child is supposedly the only alternative to sex in proving one's love for another person) by IVF and then the nun gives birth to a boy who goes on to become the Pope's camerlegno, all the while unaware that he is in fact the Pope's illegitimate son but not through sex.One of those scenarios sounds like a bestselling novel worthy of praise. The other one sounds like an episode of Nip/Tuck dreamed up by an intern doing pails. Both of them, however, are true components of this garbage dump of a commercial novel that wants to think it's so clever and edgy but is in actual fact nothing but Europorn Indiana Jones fanfiction with a side of racism and just a sprinkling of good old fashioned bullshit - because we love when certain authors twirl their mustaches and tell us all about how much stuff they know when in actual fact they can barely stumble through a single sentence without using the word "awkward" or describing someone's physical appearance with intensely invasive and sexual terms.Can we just take a moment to discuss Vittoria? Vittoria is the daughter of the murdered priest/scientist from CERN who was creating the antimatter that went into the bomb that intends to blow up the Vatican...to some end. I'm not 100% sure if there was even a point to all of this but let's roll with that.Vittoria as a character just kills me because not only does she constitute this massive book failing the Bechdel test, but she's this terrible walking trope of a character whose every single action is punctuated with "...the woman." Vittoria has a gun...and she's a woman. Vittoria is mad about something...and she's a woman. Vittoria is a scientist...and she's a woman. There is not a single moment wherein Vittoria's womanness is not commodified, ogled, fetishized or taken advantage of by the plethora of male characters surrounding her and patting her on the head while simultaneously noticing her tanned legs and cleavage as subtly as a baboon rubbing its bright red buttcrack up against a window at the zoo. Vittoria's only purpose as a character is to make Robert, our sanctimonious, self-righteous and highly overrated protagonist look like a hero. Is nobody else finding this insulting? Vittoria is sexualized to within an inch of her life and is then punished for it by a racially problematic villain who tries to rape her but doesn't succeed because Langdon, our plucky hero, swoops in and saves her. He is of course ultimately rewarded for this with sex because obviously, fellas, that's what's supposed to happen when you help a girl out. Held the door for her? You earned a blowjob! Helped her push her car in the snow? Expect sex! Chased away a leering predator who's making her uncomfortable? You ought to get your shot! You won, after all! Fair and square!And if she says no? Bitch! You're in the friendzone now. You'd better cry about it because she's being so ungrateful.We also have this terrible image of the "Hassassin" - a brown guy who's obviously evil and a sexual predator and totally perverted and twisted because he's brown and brown guys are the worst because...well, they're brown?Look, we all knew this character was going to be a terrible rehash of racist Muslim stereotypes. At the same time as fetishizing eurocentric women's lib we have Muslim women being scoffed at for their generally more reserved culture. They're literally called "livestock" and don't try to tell me that this is all part of the evil character of the Hassassin because (a) the portrayal of the Hassassin is racist in an of itself because he is one of only two characters of colour and he is evil (the other character of colour is a reporter for the BBC who has absolutely no moral compass whatsoever) and he is not invested at all in the cause, thus his involvement is for no reason but to critique Arab people in the whitest way possible, and (b) the majority of people in the west actually believe that Muslim female culture is like that and that feminism involves charging into their country, ripping their niqabs off while screaming "I'M WHITE AND I'M LIBERATING YOU" which is only perpetuated by this supposedly wordly, well-traveled and suave killer. Bonus points for suggesting, with this huge stereotype of a character, that Muslim men have absolutely no respect for their female counterparts and are inherent abusers. Um, yay?(I absolutely love the lack of any research that went into portraying the BBC as the main body of press. We have these two BBC reporters looking for "scoop" and being generally tacky and invasive and this is just such an awful misunderstanding of everything that is characteristic of the BBC. British news networks are not like American news networks; they aren't jokey and cute and funny. They don't mutter about Syria for five minutes and then run a half-hour story about raccoons in Ontario. They're serious and somber and they cram as much world news as possible into about an hour of programming, which almost always includes some stony-faced reporter standing in the middle of a war zone delivering a status report. BBC reporters have been killed out on the field before. The thing about the BBC is that it doesn't need to be gimmicky to attract ratings because it's comfortably funded by TV licensing. The BBC do not look for "scoop" or sensationalize breaking news or act on anonymous tips from assassins or send two clueless idiots to an event as big as a papal conclave. It's so painfully obvious that, disregarding any cultural differences between America and Europe, of which there are hundreds, Brown simply googled "British news networks" and search-replaced the BBC into this laughable, lovable brick of a novel.)In between Vittoria being a sexy Mediterranean and the Hassassin being a Big Bad Brown Man we have this dreadful hokey plot with more holes than, ironically, Swiss cheese - considering that one of the most prominent Swiss characters' surnames is "Olivetti" and our hero survives a fall from three miles up with nothing but a small tarp as a parachute, and real-life CERN is graciously putting up with this total crusade of slander and misinformation involving the shape of pillars, their teaching facilities, and the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider. Look, people were irrationally mad enough about the LHC without Dan Brown pulling out his copy of National Geographic and fanning the flames. Robert and Vittoria go on this bullshit quest across Rome to locate the Church of Illumination, for some reason, which leads to all sorts of insane conspiracy claims and both of them jumping to the most ridiculous conclusions in order to find the path that ultimately leads to a painfully obvious location that, after years of preservation, study and reconstruction, someone should have already found inside the Castel Sant'Angelo. They then kill a person, and nobody follows up on this - doesn't the person who found the Hassassin's body lying crumpled on a pile of cannonballs think there's maybe something fishy going on? - and there's a huge twist at the end that is so utterly ridiculous and predictable that it brings up the taste of yesterday's lunch. Where exactly does Dan Brown get off creating books like this one? Books with no integrity, no soul, and no finesse? There is nothing good about this book, and yet it's constructed in such a way that it's virtually impossible to abandon. The constant cliffhangers give this extremely convoluted and silly novel a crack-like quality that is unmatched by any other. I've read some seriously addictive books, but this one takes the fucking cake.I'm not sure why I'm dignifying this awful book with three stars. It amused me, I suppose. That's probably why. By the end, I was literally shouting at the book. I kept thinking, "this needs to end. This fucking book needs to be gone from my life." And yet...I continued to read? Like a madwoman? Well, then. A book marketed and constructed with that much psychological witchery deserves a pat on the back. Never have I ever been so sucked in by something so filled with pompous crap.I have a warm place in my heart for books about special snowflake Americans arriving on their white horses to rescue the rest of the world from themselves. I find them cute. They're certainly entertaining, like a preteen diary, and this one in particular; Brown wants so desperately to be Langdon that it hurts. But where's the harm in all that? Sure, this book is filled with racism and sexism and ethnic stereotyping and pretentious philosophical twaddle but it's not starting any wars. It's no worse than anything on television or anything written for a YA audience of late. I let myself get lost in it for an hour or two, and that was kinda nice. And for all the book's faults, it inspired an absolutely awesome movie. Seriously - the movie was excellent and they cut almost all of the bullshit tumors out for the screenplay which made for two hours of pretty painless entertainment. No mean feat considering the source material.I guess how much you'll enjoy this book depends on how many cheesy yoga jokes you're willing to put up with. Let that be a lesson to you all: when in doubt, or when licking lightbulbs seems like a worthier pastime, leave it out.

Megan

I enjoyed "The Da Vinci Code" as a trashy good time, but then read this one and just couldn't stop rolling my eyes. Not only was it silly and formulaic, it made the silly formula underlying "The Da Vinci Code" all too clear. Really? Another middle-aged yet strangely attractive/brilliant male protagonist -- oh wait, the same one from the other book? Another grisly murder of an old dude kicking things off? Another hot foreign chick, related to the dead dude, helping solve the mystery? Another secret society intertwined with the Vatican? Really? Really? I can enjoy a trashy book, sure, but not when you're rubbing my nose in the stink...

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