Originally published on August 28th, 2012
Thrilling and well researched. Brown gives a wealth of details for the setting that always leave me feeling like I’m standing in the room with the characters. I also find myself wishing whatever edition I’m reading came with pictures of all these famous pieces of artwork, so I could follow along as the characters make their discoveries. Although I suppose there is always google.
Definitely picked up more hatred of the Catholic church in this book, compared to Angels and Demons. When Brown is giving examples of wrongs done by members of various Catholic groups, the examples are specific and the individuals responsible are named. Examples of good done by the same group are left as hypothetical and general. This seems like a sneaky tactic, making it appear as though Brown is giving a balanced argument when in reality anyone reading it will automatically dismiss the good in favor of the bad, simply because the bad is more concrete. I don’t remember noticing this in Angels and Demons. Although it’s possible I was primed to see more misoclery in this book, simply by remembering the outcry surrounding its publication, and later the movie release. I would have to re-read “Angels and Demons” to be sure. (Disclaimer: limited spare time, other books to read; not going to happen.) Is this attitude outweighed by the ending? Or is the ending a cop-out to make it seem like Brown doesn’t blame the Catholic church for pretty much every evil in the world today? I couldn’t decide; while I found the monologue on p341-342 heartening I wasn’t certain whether it was written in a spirit of truth, or bathos. It’s a mystery. And Brown is good at mysteries.
Overall, it’s not a bad book. If you’re a huge fan of the Catholic church, I’d advise you not read it because it will probably just make you mad, and there’s more important things to get angry about than fiction. If you like thrillers and art history you’ll probably enjoy this, but if you don’t read it you’re not missing much.