Monday, September 05, 2005

The Da Vinci Code and others ...

I met Dan Brown through one of his books which topped NYTimes bestseller list when it was published. I am talking of "The Da Vinci Code". I bought the illustrated version and frankly speaking devoured it for 2-3 days. The illustrated version brings to you all the art/architecture details. You would feel that instead of Robert Langdon you are visiting Louvre. Do spend some extra bucks to get that hardbound illustrated version.

Next I come to "others". I have the habit of buying books by looking at the author's name. If I happen to like one book of a particular author, I tend to buy all of his books (if they are available...). Authors like Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Ayn Rand and G. H. Hardy are my favorites. But let's not talk about them now, because this post is about Dan Brown and his books.

So following my tradition, I got hold of "Angels & Demons", "Deception Point" and "Digital Fortress" (in that order). I read all his four novels (although in reverse order of their publication). Although the plots in each of the novels differ entirely from each other, I have observed some common features.
  • In the prologue somebody is murdered and the whole novel is about solving this murder mystery.
  • The hero is living his cool life and all of sudden he finds himself forced to solve the murder mystery. At this point he must be saying to himself: "What the heck is all this happening to me?"
  • Luckily his frustration is relieved somewhat by the presence of a beautiful and intelligent (surprise!!) heroine. The heroine has a lot of knowledge about the context of the murder but she is unable to solve the mystery and expects the novice hero to help her.
  • The villain is normally introduced as an Authority (in terms of administrative power or knowledge) and he seems to be helping both hero and heroine to find out the murderer.
  • The act of murder itself is outsourced to some third party who is expert in executing orders and does not care who his master is. Thus murderer is also unaware of the villain.
  • The contract killer is a "stud" who almost always outpaces the hero (and the heroine too). Only he is not able to kill the hero (which is again a surprise! as the hero is not a fighter by profession). This is what frustrates the villain and he then intervenes and is face to face with the hero.
  • The entire novel is divided into many small chapters (3-6 pages) and they are designed in such a way that the reader is hooked for the entire length of the novel.
  • The novel contains a lot of information about the context of the plot and this information is real. Dan Brown does a hell lot of research before writing his stuff. I came to know to much more about CERN from "Angels & Demons" than from my physics books. Around 30% of the "The Da Vinci code" is full of information about Christianity. This is where his novels stand out.
  • The entire plot takes place in a span of not more 2-3 days and the hero is always short of time to solve the mystery. This leads to a fast paced novel which is good for people like me who can't wait too long for the secrets to unfold. I have read all of his novels in 2-3 days almost matching the timespan of the plot.
In short I have abstracted out the base class (sorry for the computer jargon if you are not a geek) of all his novels. Somebody looking at this base class would say that all his novels are the same old stuff. But despite so many similarities, the plot in his novels are highly original and completely different from each other. This is what made me read all of his novels.

Watch out for his sequel to "The Da Vinci Code" which will be released in a year or two.


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2:43 PM  
Blogger Vijay said...

nice observation...

7:31 PM  

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