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Dan Brown

American Author

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A Good Author in Some Respects

  • Sep 22, 2009
Rating:
+3
Dan Brown is a fascinating man.  In many respects he's become an accomplished author primarily because of The Da Vinci Code.  As I write this review, The Lost Symbol has over five million copies in print (they're really expecting that to sell).  It's been a while since Dan Brown put out a book since The Da Vinci Code.  Yet it's clear that Dan Brown has a writing style which is all his own. Sort of.  There are times when Dan Brown isn't sure he wants to be James Patterson or some historical scholar.  Yet for the most part he can mix them together rather well.  HIs writing in and of itself doesn't have nearly as many problems as other thrill writers, but he does suffer from many of the same problems that some suffer from.

Getting one thing out of the way, Dan Brown has a knack for research.  He goes through copious amounts of research for his books.  Even if you don't believe what was stated in The Da Vinci Code, it's hard to deny that Brown was good about getting his information.  He got sued over it twice (although in truth, it might've just been someone looking to get more money), and you can find plenty of books that went down that path long before The Da Vinci Code was even a thought in Dan Brown's head.  The Da Vinci Code ended up becoming one of the best selling books of all time. 

There are only a few problems that Dan Brown has in his writing.  We'll get to that later.  Let's talk about his strengths first.  Along with research, he does know how to keep thrills coming from time to time.  The Da Vinci Code is hardly a good example of this.  It may be what everyone knows but novels such as Deception Point and even Angels and Demons do a better job with the thrills.  Of course, being someone who reads thrilelrs also means you've got to really have a desire to suspend your disbelief.  For the most part Dan Brown's books are filled with some good thrills.  Others of his books are also filled with some pretty nifty puzzles.  If you look in the back of some of his books he usually has codes that can be deciphered.  You don't have to decipher them but it's quite amusing to (although it's not obvious from the start how to do so).

Brown's writing style is simple.  Some might argue that he's a little too basic.  He certainly doesn't fill his books with a lot of colorful language or metaphors.  In fact, sometimes reading a Dan Brown novel can feel like slugging through a college text book (more on that later).  He doesn't have dry prose, just very basic prose.  Sometimes that's much better than fluffing up a book with unusually colorful language.  That's not to say Dan Brown has no description or anything like that.  He does, and he paints a very vivid picture while continuing to move the story forward.  The experience of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code is a little better when you're looking at the illustrated edition. 

On the other hand this does begin to bring up some of Dan Brown's weaknesses.  In some of his books--especially those centered around Robert Langdon--you'll get long snippets of characters sitting around and explaining stuff.  You sometimes feel like you're watching some of those shows on Nick Jr. where they're looking at you and talking to you.  If you've ever been around a little kid watching Dora the Explorer you know the feeling.  There this sort of, "Do you see the mountain?" kind of feeling when reading some of his books.  As I said earlier, if it isn't that it's this feeling that you're sitting through a college lecture.  The action can be interrupted by really huge snippets of this kind of informational dialog.  And sometimes it can seem a little inappropriate.  In the middle of a huge car chase: "Hey, did you know Jesus had a bloodline?"  Stuff like that.  Dan Brown is known for his research and doing a good job sticking it in there, but sometimes there's just no other way to get it out there other than giving us lecture like dialog.  At the very least if you're the type interested you might actually find this sort of stuff to be the best parts of Brown's books.  You sometimes feel like you are learning something (and sometimes you really are). 

On the other hand, while that can be enjoyable, the majority of his characters often aren't.  His villains, even for Thriller novels, are a little over the top and unrealistic.  And it seems like just when Dan Brown's bad guys can't get any more surreal, they do.  Think of the Albino Monk in The Da Vinci Code.  Sometimes his villains seem like super human monsters.  At some point you almost feel like Robert Langdon will be fighting werewolves or something.  Because Dan Brown's villains are just THAT unbelievable.  Many of his main characters don't fare much better.  You might grow to like some of his main characters, but you'll never come to know them.  This seems like a staple among many Thriller writers.  Nobody wants to get to know a character when there are car chases to get into.  The Thriller novel is equivalent to an action movie.  Some people just don't care about the characters.  But if you're going to spend 400 pages with the main character you might as well get to know them.

Dan Brown seems to take a page out of James Patterson's thrillers.  In most of his books his chapters are pretty short.  Some are just a page or two.  Others can be much longer.  Mostly, however, you'll find short chapters that end on cliff hangers.  This mostly helps the pacing of  a Dan Brown book.  Most of his longer chapters are the ones that feel like lectures, but that's because it would look weird to cut off in the middle of dialog flow to go to another chapter.  In terms of setting up and ending his chapters, Dan Brown definitely knows how to keep the reader turning pages.  It's also really nice because when you get home from a long day you might look at a chapter and say, "It's only two pages, I can do that."  Although if you're really tired and just getting off work the last thing you might want to read is a Dan Brown book because it's only a matter of time before you come across one of those long lecture like chapters.

For the most part Dan Brown is an okay writer.  He's not great, but his books move at a good pace and while he may have unbelievable characters (and very strange situations) it's good to see that he is very meticulous about his stories.  For books that are filled with so much it's good to see that his plot holes are kept to a minimal.  You'll really have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy his books.

As a result, of course, Dan Brown isn't for everyone.  What author is?  But Dan Brown is certainly better than most people give him credit for.  He's no literary genius, that's for sure, but not every book ever written should have to be a literary giant to be good.  If that were so reading just wouldn't be any fun at all.  Dan Brown certainly isn't a great author, but he is good at what he does.

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October 02, 2009
Nice write up! I thought I'd also mention that Dan Brown actually worked as an English teacher at one point. Hehe strange to think of but yes, a lot of ppl are actually rather surprised when they hear it. I don't think of his work as overly literary (and his list of lit influences sort of reflects that too) but it's a good read all the same.
 
September 24, 2009
nice work, Sean. I actually only read "Da Vinci Code" and I have to say Brown can be a talented writer and he does know how to work fantasy with facts. There have been some real great thrills in his books and while I did enjoy "Da Vinci Code", it was riddled with flaws. He is good but not that good I believe.
 
September 22, 2009
Great review! You really effectively summarize his style and characters. I have enjoyed his books while reading them, but they leave me feeling vaguely unsatisfied at their conclusions.
 
1
More Dan Brown reviews
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Pedestrian author who has gotten famous because of controversy.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Excellent auther, great stories!
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Although Dan Brown's books seem to follow the same general storyline, they are always well researched and interesting.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Gotta love the reasearch he puts in his topics.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
One of my favorite authors at the moment.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
I enjoyed all his books.
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
Best author ever!
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

Born: June 22, 1964.
Dan Brown is also a songwriter & pop singer.

List of works:

CDs

  • SynthAnimals, a children's album
  • Perspective, 1990, Dalliance. Music CD
  • Dan Brown, 1993, DBG Records
  • Angels & Demons, 1994, DBG Records
  • Musica Animalia, 2003, a charity CD for the organization Families First

  • Novels

    Digital Fortress
    Angels & Demons
    Deception Point
    The Da Vinci Code
    The Lost Symbol

    view wiki

    Details

    Birth Date: June 22, 1964
    Birth Place: Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    Gender: Male

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