Friday, January 07, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been on every best-seller list . . . forever, having developed what seems like almost a cult following. It's soon to be a movie and there's been talk of a sequel.

Meanwhile, yours truly only got around to reading it a few weeks ago after someone, recommending it highly, lent me her copy.

Within a few pages I was completely engrossed. A real page turner! Then, I ran into an obstacle that repeated itself so often, it became the book's fatal flaw long before I was done reading it.

The fatal flaw? Dan Brown's pretensions.

Early on Brown describes the female character (who is obviously going to picture largely in the rest of the book) as having burgundy hair.

Burgundy hair . . . burgundy?

That's a STOP! A brakes-jammed one for me. The story forgotten, I'm now focused on an imaginary game of Password with Brown, trying to figure out what the heck color he's trying to describe:

Burgundy . . . wine? The color on some football uniforms? The sweater in my closet? Dang. You don't mean she has purple hair, right? Dark red, maybe?

And "burgundy" kept popping back into my mind throughout the remainder of the book. Why?

Because Brown littered The Da Vinci Code with another STOP! sign.

Once would have worked, twice if Brown had to, but . . .

Michael Langton (I think that's his name. I thought of him as Whazisface.) the main character — the handsome super-duper world-renowned author and art history teacher (at Harvard, no less) — is an absolute freak about completely forgetting about some ancient and arcane symbolism that only he knows, until (always at a critical moment) he suddenly remembers whatever it was he didn't remember, and then he slaps himself upside his head for pages because he didn't.

Then Whazisface does an immediate, multi-page mini-lecture explaining (There are some writers out there, I know. Show v. tell?) the complete and total history of what it is he just remembered, and how it solves this part of the puzzle.

Everyone is amazed and goes, "Ahhhhhh, of course!"

Burgundy?

The story's flow doesn't just take a back seat. It completely disappears.

And when Whazisface wasn't doing it, Brown has somebody ELSE suddenly remember something only they could possibly know, and then THAT character slaps himself (or herself) upside the head because they should have remembered, and then THAT character explains the complete and total history behind whatever the HECK it is they just recalled.

Everyone is amazed and goes, "Ahhhhhh, of course!"

A reader — this one, anyway — can only take so many "Gotcha!" stunts in a book. Before long, I was only reading to see when Brown would stick in the next one. And right through the concluding chapter, in this, he did not disappoint.

To make it even worse, after countless rock ‘em-sock 'em situations complete with numerous close escapes (including multiple car chases and a clandestine international flight); several shootings, knifings, with one or two ritualistic killings thrown in; and endless lectures all preceded by someone slapping themselves upside the head because they'd forgotten something, about two-thirds of the way through Brown has Whazisface become astonished when he realizes, that the whole thing only started "last night."

Burgundy!

The idea behind The Da Vinci Code is intriguing. Brown's overwriting and technique make that the only good thing I can say about this book.

If you haven't read it and feel you must, get it from your local public library.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Norma said...

I think you put your finger on it--"cult." They have a certain sameness.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Funny! My daughter wanted to read it cuz all her fiends were, and I would have bought it, but then she changed her mind. (I did tell her that it probably wouldn't be as interesting to someone who knew nothing about Christianity in the first place.)

I did a Book Diss yesterday and will be doing another one later. If you like exotic books, I recommend The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka.

9:57 AM  

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