Sunday, February 26, 2006

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

by Christina VanGinkel
Angels & Demons is by the same author who penned the much talked about 'The Da Vinci Code'. Written and published before that national bestseller, it is in its own right a very well written mystery / thriller. I was hooked from within the first few sentences of the book. It is written is an easy to follow format, unlike many novels of this genre, that often leave the reader wondering if they missed something. If I had to find fault, I would say that the author gives too many fringe details on certain subjects, which leave the reader wanting to know even more on the subjects at hand.

This book, Angels & Demons, features the somewhat laid back main character, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, the same hero of the famed 'The Da Vinci Code'. Laid back, but nonetheless, tossed into the middle of a bizarre and fast-paced quest to save the Vatican, and the world for that matter, from a missing vial of anti matter that has been misaligned into the wrong hands. As a symbologist, when a man of high esteem is found not only dead, but also with a symbol literally seared into his chest, he is called in to help the police decipher what it could all mean. What the seared symbol is in reference to is the long secret organization of the Illuminati, a secret organization that for centuries has had one goal, and that being the downfall of the Catholic Church. However, is it really the Illuminati leaving their calling card, or just someone or some group, who has come into the means to know what the Illuminati were? Introduced almost immediately in the book is also the venerable Vittoria. As the daughter of the dead scientist who created the anti matter, and a scientist in her own right, she has a stake in the finding of the antimatter, both in the reputation of her father, and in her growing passion for Mr. Langdon his self.

Readers are soon propelled into the world of the Illuminati, its workings and missions, and seemingly cruelty at its deepest core. What is surprising, as this is a work of fiction, is that the Illuminati are believed by many to have really existed, and have members amongst their ranks the likes of Galileo and other esteemed scientists of their time. Through the centuries, this group is believed to have kept up its membership with the goal in place carrying through the centuries along with the continued life of the membership.

Also at the core of this fiction thriller, is the anti matter that has all the characters in an uproar. In the setting of the book, the missing vial is more than enough to obliterate the Vatican, and the four principal papal candidates that have gone missing. What goes on to make it all so astonishing a read is that anti matter does exist. Probably not in a vial that needs it battery recharged in matter of hours, lest it all blow up, but anti matter is real, and it does exist, and that knowledge alone makes the story line of this book work. I was so intrigued by what anti matter might be, that I spent hours online researching exactly what anti matter is, and what it can do. It made for quite a scary read all by itself, in addition to the thrilling fictionalized moments in the pages of the book.

With the entire hubbub about the Catholic Church in recent years, even a good catholic can find a storyline to like in this book, as readers soon learn what a conclave is, if they did not already know, and how this meeting to announce a new Pope has not changed its rules in centuries. It can get your mind thinking about what the church really stands for, who created it, and where it might be heading in this day and age. I would recommend that anyone who has read any other Dan Brown books, or not, read this book, Angels & Demons. If they have not yet read 'The Da Vinci Code', definitely read this one first. Even though they do not need to be read in order, as each book more than stands on its own as a thriller, the reader can learn a bit more about the character Robert Langdon, in the pages of Angels & Demons.

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