My rating: 2 of 5 stars
After being in print for seven years and selling 80 million copies, The Da Vinci code’s reputation won’t be changed one iota by my review. Will that stop me from writing a review? Of course not!
First, it’s a great premise. You’ve got one sekrit society out to get another sekrit society, and they’re sekritly fighting over some explosive sekrit that would change history. And, it’s the Catholic Church and all, which has kinda sorta had a big impact in the western world.
Then there’s that Da Vinci the genius guy thing, and anagrams, puzzles, riddles, and number puzzles. There’s the guy-that-helps-you-who-turns-out-to-be-a-bad-guy. You know, that stunning plot reversal you never saw coming.
But … there’s the writing. Consider, for example, “A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Do not move.'” Pro tip, Dan. Voices don’t speak. People speak.
Or, “On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.” Also, if you’re frozen, you’re NOT MOVING. I know, details. They’re pesky.
Or, “Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.”
If I can wear the picky pants a minute longer, a silhouette is a solid form, like a shadow, so our dying frozen curator would be unable to see the skin, hair, irises or pupils.
I knew his prose would be hammy on the way in, but still. All three of those examples are from the prologue.
Speaking of also and still, after Saunière has been shot (oops, spoiler! sorry!), he leaves himself to die after graffiting himself until he’s chock full o’ clues. But how can he be sure that his granddaughter, police officer Sophie Neveu, will get magically summoned to the crime scene just because he leaves a little number code jibber-jabber? Yeah yeah, suspension of disbelief. My bad.
And that whole Teabing guy? You know, the art curator? Making him rich, fine. If you’re going to spend half the night dumping religious history on your readers, best to do it in the sumptuous lap of luxury. But making him have 24/7 access to his own private plane? AND pilot?
Ironically, my favorite part of the book was that info dump, though that says more about my tastes as a reader than anything else. Alas, the book falls apart there, too, since the Priory of Sion was apparently a hoax created by a man later convicted of fraud.
Still, this is a step up from his earlier work, like Angels & Demons, where the Illuminat were trying to destroy Vatican City with antimatter (no, really), and unfortunate readers had to contend with characters named Vittoria Vetra and Gunther Glick … and “Hassassin.” (I’ll give you only one guess what he did for a living.)
So, who knows. Maybe Brown will learn from his reviews and eventually become a successful novelist.