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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

What code? I thought Da Vinci just wrote backwards....

So, I finally got a chance to read The Da Vinci Code this week. Tore through it in about three days at a comfortable pace. I figured I'd give you my very quick review. Feel free to share it with whomever.

I'll start by saying right off the bat that I was very offended by it. Not because of the theories or history, which were nothing new and didn't bother me in the least, but because I'm deeply and personally offended by bad storytelling. While the story itself had potential, the author's tendency to break down into bland, ill-disguised exposition 1 out of 4 pages pulled me out of the narrative too often.

It was bad when the main character started just telling the girl what happened. At those points, his voice in my mind actually devolved to a sort of bored BBC narrator tone, complete with British accent. Then, after a while, the author stopped documented his exact words and just told us second-hand what Langdon was telling her. The gimmick of presenting some of the exposition as flashbacks to classroom lectures was lame, but at least a change of pace. I literally laughed aloud, though, when he started introducing new characters, apparently just for the benefit of having someone new to explain things for us, even though he made it clear that this was information that the main character already knew.

The worst part to me, though, was that the Grail/art experts in the book knew what the whole thing was about, completely, and acted as if it were common knowledge, yet they were inexplicably reluctant to share the information with the girl unless they were currently in a vehicle fleeing the police. Knowing that this isn't the first book featuring Langdon, I can only assume that his omniscience is explained by previous events.

In fact, the whole book could be summarized thusly: puzzle, action set piece, exposition, repeat.

Now, all of that said, I actually enjoyed it for the most part, as a silly, fun book. I'll even admit to getting caught up in the story (at least in between Symbology/Art/History/Theology 101 lectures). It's not a particularly deep story in any way, despite its pseudo-historical pretensions, and I expect that the inevitable movie won't suffer much from the translation to the big screen for that reason. It may even be improved by it, since the screenplay will necessarily omit some of the longer, dryer expository sequences.

Overall, I don't regret spending a few hours reading it, but I am glad I borrowed a copy and didn't spend actual money for it.

UPDATE: According to
IMDB, Ron Howard is slated to direct the movie version. Interesting choice....


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