[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 12 October 2004]
Angels & Demons is an effective page turner, with a fast-and-furious plot involving our protagonist Robert Langdon becoming embroiled in scary events at the Vatican involving antimatter stolen from CERN and the sudden re-emergence of the supposedly-extinct Illuminati. There’s really nothing like a secret and all-powerful brotherhood to add that touch of class to a novel.
The embedded discussions of the history of the long enmity between the Illuminati and the Catholic Church are interesting, and the attempts by several characters to consolidate the differing world views of science and theology provide some food for thought.
Brown’s writing style is effective and mostly gets out of the way of the plot, which as it happens is the novel’s Achilles heel. While it is as mentioned above certainly fast-paced and embroiling, the basic premise of antimatter stolen from researchers at CERN and planted in the Vatican for nefarious purposes is just a bit too James Bond, and the trials and tribulations of Langdon and his super-hot genius scientist soon-to-be girlfriend stretch suspension of disbelief a bit too far. There are too many near-disasters and too much sheer activity. Some breathing room in the plot would have been nice, as well as some more humanizing of Langdon–he is simply too bright and too good.
As, for that matter, are the nefarious evil-doers. The foul deeds people get away with make you think some people really need to beef up the staffing procedures for their security forces. Again, shades of James Bond.
But as long as you don’t think too much about it, Angels & Demons is a fun ride. Strap on your seatbelt–it’ll get bumpy.