Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code
By: Dan Brown
Published: 2003
Audiobook Read by: Paul Michael

I'm sure that some of my Christian friends will be surprised at my rating of this book, but I have no hesitation about giving it my SPECTACULAR rating. However, it must be taken as a work of fiction because that is exactly what it is. Dan has taken many actual pieces of historical evidence and used them to weave a complex tale that raises religious questions of epic proportions. However, the facts cited in this book should only be viewed as pieces of information and not the entire picture. What I think Dan has done, is to raise questions that, whether it was his intentions or not, cause us to re-evaluate our faith and decide for ourselves, whether we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God or not. I came away from listening to this book with a stronger desire to know Jesus than ever. Dan even says in this book that neither version of Christianity has any physical proof and that believing either side must be an act of faith. This is most definitely true. We have the Bible, and we hold it up as God's holy word, but can anyone prove that that claim is legitimate? In the same way, some historians use documents that they have uncovered to say that Jesus was mortal and that he and Mary Magdalene were married, but can they prove their claim any better? No. Documents can be falsified, people can lie, there are a plethora of ways evidence can be manipulated. We seem to think that if an ancient document, dating back hundreds of years or more, is uncovered, that it is proof, but is it? Who can say what the motivations of the author could have been. Dan himself shows many times, in this and his other books, that people can and will do deceitful and underhanded things for their own gain. Any evidence is nothing more than an idea of what might have happened. We believe the Bible on faith and that is exactly how God wants it. Any Christian who is swayed by a book like this has to examine their own relationship with God, and decide for themselves what they believe. Having said all that, I still maintain that I love this book for the intricate fictional mystery that it contains.

Robert Langdon in this book is again a wonderful character just as in Angels & Demons. However, he is not as open minded here. He has a cut and dried opinion and does not give any other possibilities a second thought. He is still the same quick thinking fast acting person he was before and is a fascinating individual to follow through this story. I love the Mickey Mouse watch that he always wears to remind him to stay young at heart.

Sophia is another of Dan's beautiful damsels in distress, ripe for Robert to sweep in and save. We learn a lot about her past and are given a window into her heart, allowing us to see the inconceivable pain that she experiences finding out that she has lost her grandfather and with him the only family she ever knew. Dan does a better job in this book building up her character and giving her some depth. She is still the pretty face for Robert to fall for, but she has much more depth, with a haunting past that is slowly revealed as the story unfolds.

I was disappointed that Dan didn't bring Vittoria back, I was hoping to find that she and Robert had fallen madly in love since the end of Angels & Demons but I guess it was not meant to be. At least he does mention her at the beginning to explain a little of why she is absent. I still missed her.

The plot of this book was every bit as exciting as Angels & Demons. It is brilliantly crafted with just enough confusion to keep you guessing. I loved the multiple surprises that met me at each turn. There were several times that I was feeling sure of something only to find that I was way off base. Despite the religious undercurrent to the plot it is still an incredible tale of mystery and intrigue. The religious aspect is central to the story though, and Dan uses very persuasive arguments to debate the accepted Christian principals. It was very interesting to hear this opposing opinion to my beliefs, even if I was not swayed by it. The character of Sir Leigh Teabing is a fun and enjoyable Englishmen who is full of surprises. He was a welcome part of the story and I very much enjoyed him, despite his surprising turn of character. As the the trail of clues carrys us closer to the ultimate prize, the suspense mounts exponentially. Reaching the end of this story brought a lot of surprises and was very satisfying. Dan once again does an awesome job of tying up all the loose ends so that there are no questions left when the curtain falls on the last chapter.

I listened to the audiobook read by Paul Michael. He did a superb job in this performance. He did a number of flawless accents for the different characters. I was very impressed with him and would love to hear more of his work!
Overall, there is no doubt that this is a superbly crafted story, despite the disturbing religious theories that are put forward. As I said at the beginning, we as Christians have to continue to have faith and believe that God has not allowed us to follow false information. We must remember that every theory that opposes our beliefs is also a leap of faith for those who choose to follow it. Nobody is ever going to be able to provide physical proof showing that any theory is true. This is the cornerstone of our beliefs, the need to have faith. So have faith in God to guide you the right way and you won't go wrong!

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