Monday, June 28, 2004

The Da Vinci Code: A Review

Monday, June 28, 2004
I've been trying to get this posted at Amazon since April, so i might as well have it somewhere online....

When it was first published, “The Da Vinci Code” was not a novel that I gave much thought about reading. But as the reports came in about how the novel was “bashing” Christianity, and that the book was selling incredibly well, I figured that maybe I should jump on the bandwagon and see what all the hype is about. What I found was a novel that was more about an idea than it was about the plot and telling the story. I’ll explain.

The curator of the Louvre is murdered in the museum after hours. The murderer is a member of an offshoot of the Catholic Church called Opus Dei, a very traditional and secretive organization known more for its scandals than for good works. The murderer was seeking information from the curator, and while the curator was able to feed him misinformation before he died, we learn that there were three other murders related to the same bit of information that is very, very important to Opus Dei. When the body is discovered, the French police call in Robert Langdom, an expert on symbols (as they relate to art) who was supposed to meet with the victim that night.

This isn’t a simple murder. The curator, before he died, arranged his body in such a way that it is a symbol. More than this, he drew symbols and wrote something next to his body that could only be seen using a blacklight. They are clues for Robert Langdon to unravel. The only problem is that while Langdon may be the only man who can unravel the clues, he is also the prime suspect and the French police will not let him go easily. Enter Sophie Neveu. Sophie is a cryptologist with the French police, but she is also the granddaughter of the murdered curator. She believes that Robert Langdon did not murder her father and helps Langdon to escape so that he can solve the murder.

“The Da Vinci Code” is no simple murder mystery, however. The plot, such as there is, is not very deep. The plot does serve to advance and to present the ideas of the novel. The ideas of “The Da Vinci Code” are such that, if true, would rock the Catholic Church and mainstream Christianity to its core. Revealing these ideas would spoil the story because the ideas are central to the novel. Suffice it to say that if true, in the context of the novel, what Christians think they know about Jesus and the early Catholic Church is entirely wrong.

What makes “The Da Vinci Code” an interesting novel is how these ideas are worked into the story, and even though it seemed to be exposition-heavy, I was always waiting for the next revelation, the next bit of hidden knowledge uncovered by Langdon. “The Da Vinci Code” is more about the ideas than it is about a story and a plot. That’s fine, because it works very well under those terms. This isn’t one of my favorite novels, but it was good enough and interesting enough that I wanted to keep turning the pages to find out about the next hidden “truth”.


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