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Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I read this last year and wrote this review for the reading group I was in in St Helens because I was moving to London and couldn't attend the meeting. Just got round to retrieving it and posting it here.

There are only a couple of good things you can say about The Da Vinci Code: it’s fast-moving and the subject matter is undeniably fascinating. Other than that it’s complete rubbish (which is putting it politely). The characters are paper thin, which wouldn’t be so bad if the quality of the writing was up to much, which, in turn, would be OK if the plot was any good. Which it isn’t. It’s this last fault that is the most damning – thrillers can work if they have two-dimensional characters and unsophisticated text, but they still need a good story.

Unfortunately, The Da Vinci Code is nothing more than speculation about history. The plot is incredibly clunky – first one character is stumped and the other provides the answer, then they reverse roles, and then swap again. They go to one place and someone tips the police off, they go to another place and someone turns them in, and then it happens again. And the clues the characters have to puzzle out are embarrassingly simple – I was way ahead of them at least three times. The author’s technique of withholding information from the reader is pretty laughable, too; once you find out that Legaludec knows the Teacher personally it’s so obvious that Teabing is the bad guy that there’s no point hiding this.

Overall, this book reads like it was written by a fifteen-year-old who’d just devoured a conspiracy theory about the Holy Grail. On the subject of which, I don’t have a problem with whatever liberties Brown has taken with the facts (or, more correctly, the evidence) – this is, after all, a work of fiction. On the other hand, I suppose I can understand why the Church is so agitated about it – people who are stupid enough to believe what they read in a book like The Da Vinci Code, are exactly the kind of people who would believe what they read in (choosing another book entirely at random) The Bible.

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Categories: Literature, Reviews
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