by Joshua Packard, Fullness of Happy
It has taken me a while to get to actually reading any of Dan Brown's widely read novels. Tonight I just finished reading "Angels & Demons", which I will follow up with the more well known "The Da Vinci Code".
Angels and Demons is a book I find myself having difficulty reviewing. The story is very compelling, interesting and exciting in the action and fast paced puzzle solving required of the main character, religious symbologist, Robert Langdon. The story is laid on a backdrop of a debate about the supposed harmony, or incompatibility, of religion and faith with science and reason. Basically, the story is about a scientist, who is also a Catholic priest, who discovers a way to create antimatter, and supposedly proving that the act of creation of something out of nothing is possible, therefore proving the existence of a Creator God. But apparently someone has taken this antimatter and hidden it somewhere in the Vatican, where all of the world's Catholic cardinals have congregated to elect a new Pope, the most recent Pope having died of a sudden stroke 15 days previously. Robert Langdon is called in to help solve the murder of the priest scientist who created the antimatter and he must solve the riddles left behind by members of the secret society and enemy of the Catholic Church, the Illuminati.
A lot of the characters in the story represent different views on the relationship of religion with science, of faith with reason. Some characters believe they are harmonious and complementary, while others belief they are contradictory and at odds, the worst of enemies to each other, with one being better than the other. The novel contains a lot of interesting historical information and interpretation. I don't know how much of it it true, and how much either concocted or embellished to create a more compelling and dramatic story, but I think the historical tidbits make it more interesting, regardless of how historically accurate they are. The action of the novel is fast paced and exciting. The dialogue is usually interesting. I found the book to be hard to put down.
Overall, and interesting and fun book to read. Being Catholic myself, some of the jabs to my Church were a little annoying, but I can take a punch, and so can the Church. I probably don't agree with a lot of the author's own opinions and beliefs, but that is ok. I still think I could get something out of this book. I plan to read "The Da Vinci Code" next, which, having seen the film version, I know there will be a lot which I will find inaccurate and untrue. But I will read it, so that I have a better idea of what I am critical of.
While you can probably find an inexpensive copy of this book in your local thrift store, if you want to buy it online, you can find it at Amazon here.