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Book Review - Angels and Demons

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ivelius
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1. Bibliography card a. Title: Angels and Demons
Author: Dan Brown Publication Date: May 2000
Publisher: Pocket Books b. Checked out from school library on February 1st 2. Summary card
a. The Vatican City is about to explode. Eyes of the media and the people from all over the world are watching in horror. And in the critical moment something nobody expects happens… p 593- 600
b. I would rate this book 5 out of 5
1. Characters
Robert Langdon – a Harvard professor of religious symbology, that becomes a witness of the resurrection of an ancient secret society known as Illuminati. A very intelligent, sharp-minded, and a warm –hearted person. I really like this character because of his ability to understand the situation and try everything to help others.
Quote: “Religions are not born from scratch. They grow from one another. Modern religion is a collage… an assimilated historical record of man’s quest to understand the divine.” (p 108) This quote represents one of the views on religion in this novel. As a man, that studied different kinds of religions all his life he looks at it only like another myth, but respects it’s influence on people.

Vittoria Vetra – A beautiful particle physicist working in the world’s greatest nuclear research facility – CERN. She and her father had a goal to connect science and religion, by scientifically proving that God exists and almost succeeds in it. She helps Robert Langdon in his quest through the novel. She is a very desperate person that achieves every goal she puts herself.
Quote: “Science tells me God must exist. My mind tells me I will never understand God. And my heart tells me I am not meant to.” (p138) She is my favorite character in the book. Her views o the world around us and religion are very similar to mine.

Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca – The Pope’s chamberlain, who is the head of Vatican City before the next Pope will be elected. This is a very interesting character, that surprises the reader in the end. Through the book we look at him as on an intelligent, kind, and strong person. In the end of the book he turns out to become a religious fanatic, whose goal is to restore people’s faith all over the world, but his methods are unacceptable…
Quote: “I am prepared to give my life tonight, quite literally, to save this church.” ( p 220) This is a very interesting character that the reader himself decides is good or bad.

III. Setting.
The action takes place nowadays in the time of the Conclave – the election of the new Pope. It starts at Robert Langdon’s apartment in Massachusetts. Than we fly in Switzerland to the world’s greatest nuclear research facility – CERN. But the main action takes place in Rome and Vatican City. The setting perfectly fits the book. It is supplied with hundreds of factual details that make us feel as it is not a fictional, but a documentary novel. You learn a lot of new things about the inside of Vatican and architecture of Rome. The author did a great research before writing this book.

IV. Plot.

Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology gets a mysterious call at night from the head of Europe’s biggest research facility- CERN, Maximilian Kohler. CERN is a Nuclear Research facility in Switzerland where cutting edge nuclear research is being conducted. Kohler calls Langdon because one of CERN's brightest scientist's has been gruesomely murdered and has been branded with a strange symbol that tips the director that this is more than just an ordinary murder. What Langdon finds at the murder scene frightens him: The symbol appears to be authentic, and the legendary secret society – The Illuminati, long thought to be defunct, seems to have resurfaced. They found out that the scientist and his daughter, a beautiful physicist Vittoria Vetra, were working on the newest technology that would change the whole science itself – the antimatter. A specimen of this highly explosive and deadly substance has been stolen and placed inside the most sacred fortress in the world and the biggest enemy of the Illuminati – The Vatican City. They have only 24 hours to find the specimen until it explodes and destroys Vatican with all the worlds Cardinals gathered there for the conclave. In Vatican they find out more bad news – 4 of the most popular Cardinals mysteriously disappeared and the antimatter canister is visible on the camera hidden somewhere inside. They get a call from the Illuminati messenger that calls himself The Hassasin. He tells them that he will murder the cardinals in the different churches of Rome and make this event highlighted by press. He claims that this is the last day of The Roman Catholic Church.
While the army of Swiss Guards are trying to locate antimatter Rober Langdon and Vittoria Vetra are trying to trace the Hassasin and prevent him from the murders. They run around Rome decrypting ancient symbols and trying to save the Cardinals. They get very close every time, but fail to do it… Now the whole world is watching the horrible murders of Cardinals at the time the Conclave is held. It seems that there is nothing they can do to stop it or find the bomb. Five minutes until the bomb should explode the Chamberlain apparently goes into a trance and rushes back into the Basilica, claiming that he has received a vision from God revealing the location of the antimatter canister. He finds it, rushes in the helicopter, flies high up in the sky and it explodes there without harm to anybody. The Chamberlain stays alive and is immediately elected as the new Pope by the Cardinals and the people. But it is not over… Robert Langdon finds the evidence that The Chamberlain is the one who put the canister there in the first place and ordered to murder the Cardinals. In his fanatism to restore faith in people he wouldn’t stop before anything. After the truth is discovered the world is shocked, but finally this long day for Langdon and Vittoria is over.

V. Theme
In this book Dan Brown brings up several very important themes that have been a point of discussion through centuries. The first one is the relationship between science and religion. Are they enemies or branches of the same tree? Does scientific progress destroy faith or strengthens it? I think that the author’s point of view is that they both seek for the same truth, but in different ways. This is a very philosophical question, that people argue about every day. The second important point is that no good can be achieved by bad deeds and violence. One of the main characters of the book kills a lot of people to achieve, as he thinks, a much more important goal. He feels that he has the right and the power to do it. Dan Brown shows that this is impossible. People can’t play the role of God and decide who should live for “a higher purpose”. It never works and they always suffer consequences. I can draw a parallel with an amazing classical novel of Fyodor Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment that focuses on this topic. It describes a miserable life of a person who decided that he has the power to decide who should live for common good. In the end he becomes almost insane and only faith and repentance cured his soul.
Quote: “Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for the truth that is greater than ourselves.” (p 138) This is one of the most significant quotes from the book which, I believe, shows the author’s position. VI. Analysis Angels and Demons is not just a book you read and forget, it is a book that makes you think a lot. While reading it, I sometimes stopped trying to process the information I just got. The author shows several points of view on the problems and lets the reader decide which one is closer to him. I can say, that I've learned from this book a lot of factual information about Vatican City such as the history, the inside structure, security, secrecy and tradition. I also learned about the architecture and history of Rome such as the historical facts about church, famous scientists like Galileo and the architecture of the “Eternal City”. Also, I found out many interesting historical facts in general like that the U.S. dollar has a lot of Masonic symbols on it and that the line "In God we trust" is on the same side as the Latin phrase "Novus ordo seclorum", which can be translated as new secular order. I enjoyed reading Angels and Demons because it brought up questions that I asked myself many times about science, religion, relationships between people, and made me think about it again. This book shows different kinds of people - noble and kind-hearted like Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra, fanatics of their ideas like Camerlengo Vetreska, the deadly killer that respects only force - the Hassassin. It shows us again, that it is not possible to achieve common good sacrificing other people's lives for it. Violence brings only more violence, it was and it will always be this way. Other than that Angels and Demons is a very interesting book, the goal of which is not only to entertain the reader, but also to make him stop and think about philosophical questions and maybe discover something new about himself. VII. Evaluation
Angels and Demons s one of my favorite books ever. It beings up philosophical problems and makes you think. The plot keeps the reader wired right up to the last page. It is perfectly set up and makes you lose the border between truth and fiction. Reading this book you not only stay entertained, but also learn a lot of interesting facts. I think that this book will be interesting for all open-minded fiction and history lovers. It will take you to a journey impossible to forget.

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