Tuesday, December 14, 2004

So, lazy bastard that I am, I read many more comics than "real" books. And I'm also pretty choosy about about what I will spend time reading. I usually request two or three people's positive recommendations before I'll actually pick up a book and read it.

But, I do have a 45 minute drive to work. And a 45 minute drive home (one day I shall unleash my ongoing rant regarding my dream of efficient public transportation. It's all about bullet trains, people). Anyhoo, I do have quite a bit of time on the road, and I can only listen to so much Marketplace.

So, a few weeks ago my co-worker commented that he had the "book on tape" of The DaVinci Code. And his recommendation coupled with that of the Sensational Laura Denby led me to say "okay, sure. Let's kill some time."

Anyway, I have now "read" the controversial best-seller. Well, an authorized, abridged, poorly narrated audio-book version of The DaVinci Code. It's okay. In all honesty, I think it sort of follows the current trend of authors wanting to write a screenplay and not having the screenwriting technique down pat, so they turn to prose. Nobody is going to accuse Dan Brown of being a literary genius, but what the book does manage to do is tell a fairly fast paced sort of mystery that is smart enough to give it's audience some surprises regarding plot elements, but is also savvy enough not to tell a confusing or complicated tale. You know, a good airport book.

The author doesn't have any pretensions of being perceived as the next James Joyce. He wants to tell a neat story about a nerd as an action hero and relies upon stoner/templar lore in order to do so.

Regarding the alleged "controversy" surrounding the book...

Basically it suggests that maybe the Catholic church hasn't always acted with the best of intentions and the author uses the Vatican as a sort of vague force which the characters must beware of. I can't say much more about what the controversy is without totally giving away the book, but I kind of figured out huge chunks of it by midway through disk three of 5.

There are some vaguely taboo topics covered, and a bit of mysticism and well researched humbuggery inserted to weave an interesting plot. The book plays it very, very safe as far as I'm concerned, and certainly doesn't cover any territory not covered elsewhere (the super freak comic Preacher: Proud Americans leaps immediately to mind.) But if you could bare with Arnie's "End of Days" or Demi Moore's "The Seventh Sign", I think you can handle this book without worrying about your immortal soul.

Brown wisely keeps to familiar touchstones for his story. He never gets particulalrly esoteric with his history, geography or even his landmarks. Even an untravelled jerk like me knows what the Louvre is, so when the book opens in the Louvre, as a middle-america slob, I can nod and smugly say "Ah, I know what the Louvre is! Two points for me!"

Brown's biggest failing is in his inability to create the vaguest interest in his own protagonists. The characters are little more than ciphers needed for advancing the plot, and seem to always act in the most obvious manner (not to mention, at least one of them can always unravel a puzzle within a few minutes).

I hear they're bringing the book to the big screen, and I think that's great. This is a book in search of a script, and will probably make a clever Christmas release.

In addition, I'm now hooked on the idea of getting books on CD for my commute. I'm going to go and get a library card this weekend and see what I can find.

No comments: