Book Review of Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)

Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
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OK, the story, if not even a little bit believable, was reasonably entertaining. I don't demand believability!

However, the way this book is written is just unbelievably condescending. Brown feels the need to explain what the BBC is, what a particle accelerator is, insists on translating VERY basic foreign phrases, and gets basic word definitions in repeatedly under the guise of not having his characters know what things are. This wouldn't be so bad if the characters weren't supposed to be a physicist/biologist and a professor/symbologist. (A college professor has never HEARD of CERN?) The 'obscure' tidbits of knowledge that supposedly prove Langdon is brilliant in his field are most often common, pop-culture kinda stuff. He also divides "Christian vs. Pagan" symbology up in a way that people of centuries past did not. (It really would not have been considered shocking for a religious sculptor to also carve pyramids and obelisks, for example. And as of when is a dove a solely 'pagan' symbol?)

Luckily, most of the really irritating bits are in the beginning of the book - once people start dying, things get moving and the definitions fall by the wayside.
Still, I was hoping for a bit more... I didn't find the descriptions of life either at CERN or in the Vatican to be realistic AT ALL. (Oh, and as a library person, the bits dealing with when Langdon is allowed into the archives alone, without the help/supervision of a professional - sorry, but no way. They couldn't go wake up an archivist/librarian? And I don't believe that there is ANY evidence that the Vatican denies access to the materials in its catalog to non-Catholic researchers on the basis of their religion. From what I've read, it operates much like any other restricted archive - you have to have credentials as a qualified researcher, you need to request an appointment and the specific articles you want to see in advance, etc. Standard practice. And I really don't know about suffocating to death in an archival vault in 20 minutes. Unlikely. At least it's not something they ever warned us about in library school.)

I've been to Rome, and the book didn't succeed in bringing me back to the aura or feel of that beautiful and ancient yet modern city.
The religion vs. science debates brought up in the book are certainly timely, but fairly basic - they never really delve that deeply into the issues. Still, there are some really amusing bits, and some unexpected twists and turns in the plot.

Still, I should probably mention that it follows a very similar formula as the Da Vinci Code - if you've read one recently, the other may seem sneakingly familiar....