I will never read it. I’ve only managed to read one chapter of one of his books before getting annoyed with his bad writing and freakish quirks. But when Brown shits out a new turd, it means the season of Dan Brown reviews is upon us, and we get another horde of appalled English majors forced to wade through the sewage and write out disbelieving summaries. Poor Matthew Walther had to read Origin, and then attempt to write a summary. If I wanted to dissuade students from going for an English major, this is what I’d show them. It’s analogous to scaring away potential biology majors by plopping down a noisome week-old roadkill in front of them and telling them to trace the major vessels of the circulatory system.
Nor, finally, would anyone who is not going out of his way to subvert the very notion of suspense as a factor that might conceivably motivate us to turn pages attempt even as a joke what must be the most banal chapter-ending cliffhanger in the history of fiction: “‘This getaway car was hired,’ Langdon said, pointing to the stylized U on the windshield. ‘It’s an Uber.'” Nor would he dream of opening the next chapter by announcing that a police officer has responded to this utterance with “a look of wide-eyed disbelief” at “the quick decryption of the windshield sticker.” Decryption! Code-breaking! Rare feats of professorial intellect, like knowing what corporate logos are! Imagine what further wonders Langdon might perform if only his creator allowed him to visit a certain international hamburger chain or glance down at the anagogic white fruit staring up from the bottom of his cellphone. (Unimprovably, Brown follows up this masterclass in symbology from Langdon by noting himself that “Uber’s ubiquitous ‘on-demand driver’ service had taken the world by storm over the past few years. Via smartphone, anyone requiring a ride could instantly connect with a growing army of Uber drivers who made extra money by hiring out their own cars as improvised taxis.”) If this guy is trying to write thrillers, then this article is actually a piece of SpongeBob Squarepants fan fiction.
It’s terrible, but you also get an inkling of why he is popular. His hero is supposed to be this super-smart, highly educated professor in some field so esoteric that no one has ever heard of it, yet he recites banalities as if they were profound. The truly stupid reader can follow this story and assemble superficial trivia as if they were insightful…as if they too were as brilliant as Robert Langdon supposedly is. If you are reading a book to affirm that you are clever enough to be able to read a book at all, then Dan Brown will pat you on the back on every page and coo reassuringly that yes, you are just as intelligent as a Harvard professor.