Having really enjoyed "The Da Vinci code", I was happy to find out that Dan Brown has other books. I borrowed "Angels and Demons" from a friend, and was very surprised to find out that it was written a couple of years /before/ Da Vinci. It's an interesting story: I read both books in Hebrew. They probably thought, at first when A&D came out that it's not good enough. When Da Vinci came out and became a mass bestseller, they translated it into Hebrew, and as it became a bestseller in Hebrew too, they decided to translate Brown's older book, calling it "from the author of The Da Vinci code...". Geez, marketing.

Anyway, the books are very much alike. Too much alike, really. Brown's receipt for success is simple: wake Langdon in the middle of the night and send him to some mysterious mission in a European capital, that starts with a guy murdered in a weird way. Team him up with a [beautiful] woman, who's somehow related to the victim. Together, they find out a lot of really surprising things, mostly having to do with Christianity and secret brotherhoods. It ends well, with Langdon and the woman in love. Awwwww......

But this is the negative way of looking on Angels and Demons. Like everywhere, you can see the full half of the glass in a book, and the empty half. If you try to spot only the empty half, A&D is actually very easy to criticize. Bar the similarities with another book, there are quite a lot of inaccuracies, tons of illogical things, time that runs too slow (the whole plot in less than 24 hours...), and those obvious "thriller traps". Oh, you've gotta hate those. "X picked the phone. When he heard what the caller has to say, his mouth gasped with wonder..." End of chapter, on to another character, a chapter that also ends with some mystery, back to X, etc, round robin, you can't get the darn book out of your hands. You learn to eat, wash dishes, walk around, climb to busses, everything, with the book in front of your eyes.

Here I'm touching a positive side of reading A&D and Dan Brown's books in general. Is this really bad that a book is so enthralling ? I think not. I think it's great, this is how books should be. A person who knows to write such a book is really gifted, and an object of worship (ok, ok, maybe I'm getting too far here). But combine this level of readability with a plot that is actually interesting from an "intelligent reader"s point of view. That is to say, if you're reading books not just to pass time, but also to learn something from them, Dan Brown's books are perfect. That's because they combine: (1) Interesting historic/geographical/art/architectural/etc facts, (2) Are easy to read, so you really *want* to read them, and when you're not bored you absorb all the interesting facts better.

Anyway, I liked Angels and Demons a lot. If you don't go looking hard for imperfections, it's a great, entertaining books that also gives you some food for thought. I'll definitely want to read other books of Dan Brown...


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