Thursday, March 12, 2009

Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
By Dan Brown
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published in 2006
ISBN-13: 9781416524793
736 pages

Prologue: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.

Angels & Demons is my first Dan Brown book and certainly will not be the last. It had me glued to my seat, turned those pages furiously, and played the guessing game right until the end. You would not believe who the culprit is. It is a little over-the-top but still. . .

Set in the Vatican City, this is one intriguing thriller that is full of drama. Robert Langdon, a Harvard specialist on religious symbolism (those who have read The Da Vinci Code would be familar with him), is called in by a Swiss research lab when Dr. Leonardo Vetra, the scientist who discovered antimatter, is found murdered with the word "Illuminati" branded on his chest. When he first receives the call from Maximilian Kohler the lab director, he is skeptical. However, after seeing the fax showing the word "Illuminati", he is completely stunned. What makes it even more intriguing is that his telephone is an unlisted number so how did these people know where to find him? The next thing he knows, he is onboard an aircraft travelling from Boston, USA, to Geneva, Switzerland, all in an hour. How awesome is that?

Why is Dr. Vetra murdered? His death is connected to the substance that he together with his beautiful daughter, Vittoria, had created. They made a frightening discovery: a lethal amount of antimatter that is sealed in a vacuum flask. And this highly volatile creation has been stolen. It will explode in six hours unless its batteries are recharged. Langdon and Vittoria find themselves setting out for the Vatican City where the conclave to elect a new pope has just begun. At the same time, four principal papal candidates: Cardinal Lamasse, Cardinal Guidera, Cardinal Ebner, and Cardinal Baggia, are missing. The assassin has a plan to kill them one by one. They are each to be branded with the other four Illuminati elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Unknown to the outside world, the frantic search for these important individuals begin. At the same time, the Swiss Guards are also searching throughout the Vatican City for the antimatter, failing which everything will turn to dust if the antimatter explodes when the time is up. In search of the missing cardinals, Langdon with the help of Vittoria try to uncover the clues tied to the ancient Illuminati meeting sites and runes. The assassin has even marked Vittoria for his lustful pleasure and is bent on capturing her for his enjoyment after his mission is accomplished.

There are some interesting religious arguments in the story:

". . . When you lie out under the stars, do you sense the divine? Do you feel in your gut that you are staring up at the work of God's hand?" Langdon took a long moment to consider it.

"Do you believe in God?" Vittoria was silent for a long time. "Science tells me that God must exist. My mind tells me that I will never understand God. And my heart tells me I am not meant to."

There are so many twists and turns the book made me dizzy. It is fast-paced. I am going to read his other works, including The Da Vinci Code that has gotten the Christians worldwide discussing it. I look forward to the movie version of Angels & Demons (starring Tom Hanks), coming soon in May 2009.