Before even cracking the spine, I characterized the megablockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code as Umberto Eco with training wheels. Now that I've actually read it, I'd like to revise my assessment.
The Da Vinci Code is Umberto Eco with a lobotomy.
The book came out in 2003, for those keeping score, and is still in hardback, presumably to maintain the dumptrucks full of cash that must back up to Doubleday's Accounts Receivable loading dock like clockwork.
I am not an early adopter on contemporary fiction. The fact that The Da Vinci Code was a hit made me dubious; the crazy cottage industry that's sprung up around it -- additional books pro and con, TV specials, shot glasses for all I know -- left me feeling faintly ill.
I'm not qualified to dish on the research inaccuracies contained in the book despite Dan Brown's claim that key elements are factual. My art curator brother-in-law has a choice few words on them, though, as do the various internets.
The pedestrian, hackwork quality of the storytelling, however, is fair game. The writing style lacks imagination and energy (Brown never met a flaccid, passive voice verb he didn't like). The characters are supposed to be brilliant but make stupid mistakes (who needs half a chapter to recognize mirror writing?). The romance between the two leads is stillborn. The reveal of the villain is, um, unrevelatory. The stakes and risks of the story, the very heart of the book, feel trumped-up and false.
When I finish a book, I want to think, "That was a hell of a thing." When I finished this book, I thought, "Crap, I gave Amazon my office address and won't get Harry Potter until Monday!"
But what do I know? Brown's sold a gazillion books to my none.
I love a good puzzle mystery. Who doesn't? But if you're one of the other four people in the world who hasn't read this yet and are considering it, do yourself a favor and read The Name of the Rose instead. Or, if you're all about the Templars, try Foucault's Pendulum. That too hard? Just rent Indiana Jones #1 or #3.
Or, hey, go right to the source.