If you’ve read the other two books starring Robert Langdon by Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons) than you may have had a lot of expectations for this, the third novel of the series. The first two books could be labeled as fun and fast reads, but this third one falls short in quality. It’s not a particularly bad book, it is an amusing read and has some merits, but it’s hard to judge the book without holding it up against the previous two.
You must forgive Brown for a moment on his weak writing style and accept that he will write characters that are pretty much one dimensional with hardly any sort of personality other than that which pertains to the story itself. You should come to expect that he’s found a winning system and that this book will follow the same sort of structure that its predecessors had. Knowing that going into the book should prepare you for what’s to come. Most relationships between the characters in his book will be awkward, because they will be meeting each other under extenuating circumstances. And of course, you will get the standard Brown cliffhanger at the end of each mini-chapter so you just have to start the next page. Even with all of that understood, you may be left with an empty feeling when you finish.
Here are the reasons why this book doesn’t make the grade like his previous work did:
Robert Langdon gets too stupid. There’s only so many times a person can be stunned, shocked, overwhelmed, or in utter disbelief at what they’re seeing. Langdon is the classic moron that enters into every situation as a blank slate that needs to be told what’s going on and why it’s important. While his inner thoughts can provide some insight and move the story along, it’s a little daunting to realize he’s constantly needing a lecture on what’s going on.
Noetics is brought in for no apparent reason. Brown likes to add little things to his books that can stir up public interest and potentially cause controversy. Usually he likes to use religion and Christianity. This time he uses Noetics and does so for no purpose, it doesn’t move the plot along and doesn’t have any bearing on the story. By giving credibility to a small project that is based on things like spirituality, alternative healing, and psychic ability, he is only trying to make people curious about something they didn’t know existed, like he did with the Illuminati in Angels and Demons, and the Freemasons in The DaVinci Code. It doesn’t work this time because it’s just not that interesting and it doesn’t aid in the telling of the story.
The ending doesn’t make it worth it. Brown might have exhausted all the available secrets in the world because he misses the mark with this book. There’s not really a lot of build up during the novel and at times the story seems thin. The landscape of this book is rather small, compared to the previous books where he is whisked from place to place in search of one mystery after another.