Monday, May 25, 2009

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

For several years, I've had a few friends and acquaintances insist that I read The Da Vinci Code. I always resisted, given that I've never really liked mystery novels. But given that there have been several lists of "Books Everyone Should Read" that have contained this novel, I felt an obligation to read it, if only to check another one off the list.

(By the way, you can find posts about such lists here and here).

Anyway, back to the book. The Da Vinci Code was quite controversial when it was released, because the secret Catholic sect, Opus Dei, figured prominently into the plot. The plot itself centers around the location of the Holy Grail and the people who are entrusted to keep that secret.

Enter Robert Langdon, a Harvard art history professor who specializes in symbolism. One night, while he is on a trip to lecture at the American University in Paris, he is summoned to meet Jacques Sauniere, curator of the Louvre, for an important emergency meeting. Shortly before the two men are supposed to meet, Sauniere is found murdered, and Langdon is implicated as the prime suspect.

When the French police find Sauniere's body, they find a mysterious code and message. Enter Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist who is summoned to the murder scene--by Sauniere himself, before his death. Sauniere happens to be Sophie's grandfather.

I really don't know how I can write this review without giving away any spoilers--in fact, I may have just given some away. What follows is a complex, intriguing web of codes, getaways, and puzzles as Langdon and Sophie try to solve the mystery behind Sauniere's murder, as well as how Opus Dei and the Holy Grail figure in to the plot. Dan Brown is a masterful writer; he ends his chapters with surprising plot twists and new mysteries meant to keep the reader engaged. And boy, does he ever. Just when you think you need to put the book down to take a break from reading, something happens that makes you want to read more. And more. And more. I was on page 177 as of yesterday afternoon and finished the book over an hour ago.

The Da Vinci Code seems like one of those books where you learn something new each time you read it. My mother has re-read it three times. I plan to re-read it again sometime. Brown's research into the Holy Grail and the secret society of Opus Dei is thorough, precise, and intense. There was a lot of effort and care put into the craft of this novel, and it shows. No wonder the National Endowment for the Arts and the BBC endorsed it so heartily. (Which reminds me, I have to publish the BBC list sometime.)

You will absolutely NOT regret reading this book. The only regret you'll have is that you haven't read it sooner. That's how I feel.

Here are some more resources for you:

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 2nds Challenge, and my 2009 Chunkster Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!


Vickie said...

I had actually started to read the book a year ago, but because I had saw the movie ahead of time and wasn't to impressed, I just couldn't get into the book. The movie ruined it for me:(

The one think I did like about the movie was the soundtrack.

Sarah said...

I'm not into books like this either, but The DaVinci Code-along with Angels and Demons by Dan Brown are among some of the best books I've read!

Anonymous said...

Yup! LOVE IT! Like I said before, I read this book in a day. I stayed up til the wee hours of the morning because I couldn't put it down!

Another book I thought I wouldn't like but ended up liking was 'Memoirs of a Boy Soldier'.

drollgirl said...

i like the book and found it fascinating. and it definitely deserves to be re-read, as it is so complicated and involved (but in a GOOD way).

i seem to remember that the dialogue was awkward and clunky, but maybe that is just me being picky.

and i'd give the movie an F. the book was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than the movie!

RunninL8 said...

I recently came across a version of the book chock full with photos of all the art and landmarks Brown writes about-it's GREAT!!!!

Jenners said...

This was pretty good ... are you going to read the next one? The movie just came out, I think. My grandmother read this and got all in a tither. And I can't look at "The Last Supper" without examining it closely now!