The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #2
Publisher: Anchor, March 2006
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An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.
While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.
Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.
The Da Vinci Code has long been a staple on my guilty pleasure shelf. I’ve read it over and over since it first came out, and it has been a favorite of mine to snag for fluffy reading or when going on vacation. I grabbed it this time to help boost my GoodReads reading goal (2 books away now!), and expected to write a why-I-love-this-book review.
That didn’t quite happen.
Granted, it’s been a few years since I read The Da Vinci Code (maybe since college?) and I’ve changed a bit. I found myself getting irritated with the characters, some of the statements they made, and even occasionally the plot.
I found some of Langdon’s comments to be simply inane. Try this one on: “Langdon was always surprised how few Christians who gazed upon ‘the crucifix’ realized their symbol’s violent history was reflected in its very name: ‘cross’ and ‘crucifix’ came from the Latin verb cruciare (author’s emphasis) – to torture” (156-157).
I don’t know what kind of Christians Langdon’s been hanging out with, but the majority of the ones I know read at least pieces of the Bible or attend church, where they talk about this. How on Earth can they not know the history of the cross?
Langdon’s a bit of a pompous ass, if we’re going to be honest, at least in his classes. Brown tries to paint him as the humble Harvard professor in the beginning with his embarrassment about his tweeds, but put a microphone or audience in front of Langdon and he can’t help himself. The flashbacks to his classes were almost more than I could handle. His condescension continues when he and Teabing explain the Grail legend to Sophie. I know it was supposed to be a teaching moment, but there were so many that it became overwhelming.
After a while, it felt like Brown had discovered all of this amazing stuff about the Holy Grail legend and wanted to squeeze it all into The Da Vinci Code, so he did. A little editing and a little change in Langdon’s tone, and we would have been in business.
I haven’t decided if The Da Vinci Code is heading back to my guilty pleasure shelf. I have a lot of mixed feelings looking at it now – sadness and irritation is not a good sign.