Thursday, September 9, 2010

Angels & Demons - Dan Brown

Angels & Demons
By: Dan Brown
Published: 2000
Audiobook Read by: Richard Poe

This book is one of the best novels I have ever had the privilege to come across!

Dan Brown does a masterful job of depicting the war that has raged for hundreds of years between religion and science. He makes no attempt to answer the questions or solve the riddles that fuel this war but beautifully immerses us in the middle, allowing us to see both sides equally. By the end of the book I still had no sense that he was siding one way or the other.

Robert Langdon as the hero of the story is an amazing character, logical but spiritual at the same time. Willing to open his mind to possibilities that fly in the face of what he believes to be reality. He systematically assesses each situation carefully drawing his conclusions from a lifetime of knowledge tempered with an open mind. His amazing journey through the pages of this book kept me riveted and wondering what would be next.

Vittoria Vetra's character leaves a lot to the imagination. Although she plays a major role in the book I am surprised to realize that looking back I know very little about her. She is a bewitching character who captures Roberts heart almost immediately and helps to fuel his strength for the terrible ordeal that plays out before us. Without Vittoria's character, the book would be severely lacking. Dan's artful betrayal of her without revealing much about her makes the book that much more interesting. We see her as Robert sees her finding out very little from her own perspective.

The plot is intricately woven with so many twists and turns that I truly had no idea of the truth until the very end. Several times I suspected different characters just to find that I was wrong. Dan provides a tale that mirrors the confusion and chaos of life all around us, showing that the most obvious solution is many times the most incorrect. He does not stoop to deceptive clues and misleading plot twists to confuse us, but simply tells the story as it unfolds through the eyes of his characters. After coming to the end, I am able to look back and see the pieces all fit into place showing the whole picture. As in real life, misinterpreting the clues and misreading the actions of others can many times mislead us to unfortunate actions. I listened to each chapter with bated breath, totally immersed in the story, feeling transported into the thick of it by this master storyteller!

One of the most surprising parts of this book for me, was the religion versus science battle that rages through and is the focal point of the story. As a science buff I found myself fascinated by the technical parts of the tale, few as they are, and as a Christian I found myself surprised by the depth of the gulf between religion and science that is so accurately portrayed here. I found myself realizing how real this war is and wondering how the two could ever be reconciled with one another. Dan offers up compelling arguments for both sides through the various characters in the book, raising fascinating questions that I had never thought of. As I said at the beginning, Dan doesn't take a side in this conflict but there is no doubt that he has given the matter a lot of thought and researched the topic extensively. In the end, I come to the conclusion that religion and science definitely need each other and that neither one by itself can stand. This book starkly illustrates what happens when we try to take either God or Science out of the equation.

Finally, I was struck by the truth of what happens when we allow ourselves to fall victim to our personal beliefs and decide that we are the ones who must persuade everyone else that we are right. When one man decides that he is the only one who can change the world and must do so by whatever means necessary, horrible consequences are bound to ensue! No one human being is able to wield the power properly to achieve complete change in the entire world. No matter what kind of change we might be striving for, we have to allow people to make their own decisions based on the merits of what we are trying to offer, whether that be Gods love for them, science's breakthroughs, or a better kind of mousetrap. We have to show people the virtues and allow them to make their own decision.

I listened to the audiobook version read by Richard Poe and was very pleased with his performance. He brought each scene to life for me with a masterful reading of this wonderful book! This was a marvelous experience!

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