The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is the ninth highest-selling fiction book of all time. Just let that sink in. It’s sold more copies, internationally, than six of the seven Harry Potter books. You can’t deny its influence across literature and the absolute sensation it has become. Even if you’ve not read The Da Vinci Code, you’ve likely heard of it.
Well, I’ve read The Da Vinci Code and can see why it has sold so many copies. In a similar vein to its prequel Angels & Demons, it grips you from the very first page and hangs you over a cliff at the end of every chapter. It also really makes you reconsider everything you’ve been taught about historical fact and whether it has some ulterior logic.
Plot – 4.5/5
The Da Vinci Code starts with a similar premise as Angels & Demons, Harvard professor Robert Langdon is urgently called to a murder where someone seems to have mystery symbols all over their body. And what begins is an incredible plot that brings in the Mona Lisa, questions religions and argues many historical moments we thought we knew as fact.
Dan Brown takes his theories and his controversial plots to another level in this book, questioning key Christian figures and providing some wonderful theories to certain very famous (quite obvious by the name of the book) pieces of art. On top of this Langdon is tasked with delving deep into a secret society that once included members such as Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo and Da Vinci. It will grip you by the collar and constantly make you turn the page.
However, as I mentioned in the previous book you do get the same Dan Brown feeling of there being a lot of mini cliffhangers at the end of chapters that sometimes just lead to more questions. Also, I must admit that around a third of the way into the book I started to get a little bored of the continuous “well did you know that this well-known thing actually started out like this and over time it has been incorrectly changed to this”. At the beginning of the novel, this is fantastic, but once you’re over 300 pages in and the plot keeps keep hopping from place to place and continuing to do this, it does start to grate on you.
Characters – 3.5/5
There are no real characters in this book that changed my opinion of how Dan Brown sees the purpose of these characters. Brown hasn’t written these books to tell tales of deep love, human struggles and character development. He’s written these books to show off his incredible knowledge and to make you ask questions. Therefore, the characters within this novel aren’t incredible.
However, as I say in many of my reviews, there isn’t such a dislike of the characters that you simply dislike them. I’ve definitely read novels where I’ve actively not disliked characters and not in a good “ooh what a good villain” type of way. That’s not the case here. They’re just not overly memorable.
The Da Vinci Code summary – 4/5
The Da Vinci Code is without a doubt a huge hit. It’s sold many millions of copies and has gripped many readers in many countries and if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll see why if you pick it up. Is there another word for “gripping”? Enthralling, encapsulating, captivating, engrossing – all these words describe The Da Vinci Code and why it’s been read by so many. There’s also the controversy, the religious connotations, the “ah, that’s a neat idea” moments you get and more.
Without these elements, as a book it is OK. It’s not wonderfully written, the characters aren’t incredibly deep or particularly lovable, they’re simply there to serve a purpose. However, don’t let that stop you from picking up the book as, as I said earlier, this isn’t what this book is about. I’ve rounded this book to a four-star – simply because it felt a lot like the previous book Angels & Demons and that began to grate on me about three-quarters of the way in. If you haven’t yet, I’d recommend picking up Angels & Demons first.