It started with ‘Da Vinci Code’ and ended with ‘Deception Point’ as I’ve only recently managed to cover all of Dan Brown’s books. My conclusion? Brown is a pretty bad writer. I’m sorry, I know there are big fans of the guy out there but he’s frankly a bad writer. So what makes it for him? A good idea based on something people know little about and manage to discover during the reading. From that idea a kind of thriller-like plot is constructed where the protagonist must save the day and the villain is always concealed until the final moments. What comes next is the execution of the writing, a certain style that Dan Brown completely lacks.
This kind of reminds me of Michael Crichton who on the contrary can take a fantastic unimaginable “idea” and create a thriller like no other. Brown has no real poetry to his works and the prose is often times just plain dull. Sometimes I’m in the middle a chapter and I feel like I’m reading an unrefined movie script. I honestly don’t care if he’s made millions upon millions from his books or the movie rights; it simply does not make him a good writer. This annoys me to an extent because when a book is a best seller and talked about to death then there’s a certain implication that the author knows what he’s doing.
Heck, even his twists and turns that are intended to shock a reader tend to fall short of their goal. It’s like a bad movie where you know who the surprising villain is a quarter through it. Of course when such a villain is revealed the “why” also makes an appearance with the intent to explain his motivation for doing what he did. This revelation is just as terrible; their motivation is often absurd and I absolutely hate a villain who does bad in order to do good. This is fiction, there’s no reason why an author should dance around it to make the characters normal. Make the villain absolutely evil and the hero absolutely heroic. That’s what I as a reader want to see. Absolute good overcoming absolute evil and even the other way around is something I don’t mind. Harry Potter is a good example. Come to think of it I also hate a hero who has no heroic qualities. The protagonist is often times naive and simply caught up in a situation he or she does not wish to be in. Why? Because through their naivety Brown can take his sweet time to have other characters explain to the hero all the technical details like a child, and through this process inform the reader. It’s patronizing.
That being said, the ideas tend to be interesting enough to barely carry the book across the finish line. I’ll probably read The Solomon Key when it comes out mostly because I’ve always been interested in the whole Freemasons topic, but this time I will do so with the realization that I am consuming junk food fiction as opposed to great literature.