The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
(Doubleday, New York: 2003)

READ: October 2007

I picked this up because it was cheap and I figured I should see what the buzz is all about.

Well, it was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be - PULP. I guess there's nothing de facto wrong with that, and I guess it's more high-quality pulp than some other pulp (if that makes any sense).

I know the book generated both a lot of excitement and a lot of flack over its actual content. As far as the whole idea of the Holy Grail being the fact that there is a family alive today who is descended from Jesus Christ, and that the Church is deadly afraid of this and has gone to great lengths over the past two millenia to attempt to eradicate both the knowledge and the family - sure, it was plausible enough. I mean, I have no background in this sort of thing. I also don't believe it (or maybe I do, but don't really care), but it's an interesting theory. Why not, right? It was fun to read for that aspect, I guess.

However, I couldn't stand the writing style. I know one of the conventions of novel-writing is to end each chapter with a bit of a cliff-hanger, but here each chapter was about 2-3 pages long (with a few exceptions), and it just became too much. It felt like I was reading the transcript of a really long, fast-paced TV show. A lot of people looking at each other for 4 seconds before the all-too-frequent commercial breaks, after stating (or thinking) "there's something I must tell you" or "but wait! there's more" or "oh, listen! are those police sirens?" It was just too contrived, too formulaic, and I don't want that in the books I read.

Here's an idea: Make it into a movie. It's pacing is such that you'll barely need a rewrite. I suggest Audrey Tautou for the female lead - she's dreamy...

JPod by Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland
(Bloomsbury, New York: 2006)

Distributed by Holtzbrinck Publishers.

READ: September - October 2007

Six video game designer co-workers, whose last names all start with the letter "J" (hence the title), doomed to work forever on the same video game that will never be released.

It sounded vaguely like the premise of Microserfs, but I am pleased to say that the only thing the two books have in common is that the protagonist works in the high-tech world. JPod is so different from Microserfs. It is a book about a surreal, strange world, where morals are constantly shifting and things are never quite what they seem. It just kept getting weirder and weirder and weirder, until finally, partway through, I started wondering where the book was derailing to. Randal, who was also reading it at the same time but was further ahead than me, told me, "Just keep reading. You'll see." It got right back on track and the weirdness somehow all made sense in the end.

CBC Television has made a television series out of JPod, and I'm curious to see how it will work in this format.* I don't know how they will make episodes out of the book, or whether it will just be a spin-off, so to speak, loosely related to the events in the book.

Anyway, I was hooked start to finish. A great read.

* Unfortunately, I don't have cable, so lacking any good bunny-ears, I'm going to just have to wait for it to come out on DVD or something. It starts January 8, 2008 (tomorrow, incidentally).