The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

>> Monday, December 15, 2003

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown was one of the books that generated the most buzz online this year, at least at the places I usually visit. From the comments I heard, I was anxious to read it, but no way I can afford to buy a hardcover and bring it to Uruguay. Luckily, this kind of books are translated quickly to Spanish, and my mom bought a copy as soon as it came out... and promptly lent it to me.

While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci -- clues visible for all to see -- yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion -- an actual secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others.

In a breathless race through Paris, London, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate their every move. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory's ancient secret -- and an explosive historical truth -- will be lost forever.
People keep calling this a thriller, and I'm really not sure it is. Maybe it's because I'm not usually fond of thrillers, because they tire me before long and all I want if for it to finish quickly, while I loved every minute of The Da Vinci Code and found myself fascinated, but this one just doesn't feel like the thrillers I used to read. It's an enormous, intelligent treasure hunt, ,. An A.

Ok, so none of the material discussed here is new, and a lot of it I already knew, but this doesn't make the book less interesting. And yes, strictly speaking, there was a lot of info dump, but since I found it all fascinating, I didn't mind. I've always been interested in the subject.

The pacing was quick but didn't feel rushed, and the places described really came alive. Also, the clues were good, not easy enough that they could be guessed easily, but also pretty evident once one knew the answer.

I also liked how the characters weren't really portrayed in black and white. Even the villains weren't all bad, and I actually shared some of their objectives, if not their methods. Both leads were also likeable, and I appreciated the fact that there wasn't a forced romance between them, something that would have been clearly too fast. There is just a certain attraction and a promise of something, someday, and I thought that was the right way to go.

I just wish I could have read it in English. There are quite a few plays with words, puzzles which have to be solved, and though I'm sure the translator did his best, it's just not the same. The best solution would have been to translate everything the way he did, but also add some notes at the back with the originals.

Oh, and I just LOVED the puzzle, in the website. Just the kind of thing I adore. There's one in English here, but I did the one in Spanish, right here.


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