Review Sunday: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon #2
(work as standalones)
Released: 2003
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.”

This is a really interesting book.  I haven’t read the others in the series (and believe me when I say that you can read them out of order, even if there are a few references to the past) but I have seen the movies for the first two in this series.  This is always painted as such an iconic book so I knew I had to read it!  I read it for the first time last year in November (2017) and per usual, I was too enamored with the story to write a clear-headed review so I waited a bit and then reread it.  Here are my thoughts!

“These books can’t possibly compete with centuries of established history, especially when that history is endorsed by the ultimate bestseller of all time.” Faukman’s eyes went wide. “Don’t tell me Harry Potter is actually about the Holy Grail.” “I was referring to the Bible.” Faukman cringed. “I knew that.”

1.  The plot.  I really enjoyed the unrelenting plot of this book.  We’re essentially dropped right into it and learn the essentials along the way which lends itself to a fast-paced plot.  There aren’t too many secondary plotlines (arguably, there aren’t any) so the focus is entirely on the Holy Grail and escaping the police.  There’s an elaborate scheme set up by someone to implicate other people and to be honest, the strings get a little tangled up sometimes.  The second time around, though, I think I understood it a lot more.  Generally speaking, though, I really enjoyed the plot and it fit really well with the genre.

“Faith ― acceptance of which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.”

2.  The characters.  I have to say, while I don’t want to hang out with any of these characters (the typical test for how memorable they are), I do find each of them interesting in their own way.  There are personal anecdotes and humorous past scenes played out throughout the book and they really painted a nice picture of the characters.  Teabing in particular I found to be especially well defined.  While I wouldn’t say they are the greatest characters in the world, they do the job and they assist the plot nicely.

“By its very nature, history is always a one-sided account.”

3.  The codes.  There isn’t really a romance to speak of so I thought I’d focus more on the extensive code-breaking and such that takes place.  I was raised Catholic and as such, I’m familiar with Christian beliefs and their origins.  This book is formed extensively around the Bible and the implications of the massive Christian cover-up scheme that happened all throughout the early years of Christianity’s expansion.  The author makes certain to point to out the realities in the front of the book so you know what is absolutely true and what is more informed inferences.  I found it incredibly interesting and in doing my own research, I found the claims to be grounded in some… interesting evidence (not to say it isn’t true but be aware when reading that this isn’t an academic book).  I also am not very well-versed in code-breaking and other related fields and I found all of it to be relatively easy to understand when accompanied with thoughtful reflection.  Overall, this was by far my favorite part!

“The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven. The Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

4.  The ending.  This definitely packs a shock factor!  I didn’t see the ending coming AT ALL.  I really liked the way it ended though.  However, I don’t think this book lends itself well to rereads in that there are very few clues in the way of figuring out the mastermind behind the whole framing plot.  With this latest reread, I saw many problems that come with the implication of the guilty party.  So while I did love the ending, I think it could have been set up better within the rest of the novel.

“Learning the truth has become my life’s love.”

The Final Verdict:
An intriguing and fast-paced mystery grounded in some (key-word: some) convincing real-life evidence and fascinating codes.
4 stars

Meet the Author:
Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, whose editors credited him with “keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.”

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing.

Brown is currently at work on a new book as well as the Columbia Pictures film version of his most recent novel.


0 thoughts on “Review Sunday: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown”

  1. I enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code too. Like you say, it's quite single-focused and I didn't think the characters were all that believable, but as fast-paced entertainment it perfectly hits the spot!


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