REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, a professor at Harvard, is in Paris to give a lecture at the American University of Paris. While he is there, Jacques Sauniere, a well-known curator of the Louvre Museum, is murdered. Captain Bezu Fache of the Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire orders Langdon to come to the museum. At the museum, Langdon notices that Sauniere used his blood to draw a pentacle on himself and left an obscure message next to himself. While Langdon is being interrogated about Sauniere’s position and message, Agent Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, arrives and tells him to listen to a cryptic voice message. Langdon learns from Neveu that he is being tracked by Fache because Fache believes he murdered Langdon. Langdon sticks his tracking dot into a bar of soap and throws it onto a delivery truck. The DCPJ are fooled and go after the truck. Langdon then realizes that Sauniere’s message was an anagram of Mona Lisa, and he and Neveu go to the painting. Realizing Sauniere left another anagram on the Mona Lisa, Neveu quickly solves it, and finds a key behind the Madonna of the Rocks. Neveu and Langdon escape the museum, solving more of Sauniere’s riddles. Langdon realizes Sauniere is a member of a secret society that has the location of the Holy Grail. While searching for the Grail and evading the police, Langdon and Neveu realize there is a dangerous society also looking for the Grail, and a wrong move can cost them the Grail.
When I first opened the novel, I thought that I might find the book boring because the book seemed to science-based, and many science books can be dry. However, I enjoyed reading the novel. I found that a main strength of the novel was that the author used many cliffhangers to keep the reader interested in the book. The plot of the novel was also a strength of the novel. It had many twists and turns, and it always left the reader wanting to know more about what was happening in the novel. The author used a broad vocabulary, but much of the vocabulary was related to France, as the story is mostly set in Paris. Because there are more mature topics in the book, I believe the book is suited for older middle school students and younger high school students. I give this book nine out of ten stars.
STUDY QUESTIONS AND VOCABULARY:
1. Who moved Monsieur Sauniere into the position he was in on the agent’s picture?
1a. Monsieur Sauniere put himself into the position in the picture. (pg. 12)
2. Why do large museums not use video surveillance systems?
2a. Video surveillance systems for large museums would be “cost-prohibitive and ineffective.” (pg. 28)
3. How did Robert Langdon fool the police that he jumped out of a window?
3a. Robert put his tracking dot in a bar of soap and threw it out of a window onto a truck. (pg. 93)
4. What did early scientists call the “Divine Proportion?”
4a. Early scientists called phi the “Divine Proportion.” (pg. 100)
5. What did Monsieur Sauniere hide behind the painting of Madonna of the Rocks?
5a. Monsieur Sauniere put a key behind the painting. (pg. 155-156)
parquet (pg. 1)
accolade (pg. 9)
foisted (pg. 55)
gibes (pg. 63)
trite (pg. 103)
6. Who founded the Priory of Sion?
6a. Godefroi de Bouillon founded the Priory of Sion in 1099. (pg. 171)
7. Why did Monsieur Sauniere make his password the Fibonacci sequence?
7a. Monsieur Sauniere wanted a password that seemed random, but was easy to remember. (pg. 205)
8. What did Monsieur Sauniere store in the Swiss bank depository?
8a. Monsieur Sauniere stored a cryptex in the bank depository. (pg. 215)
9. What is the Holy Grail?
9a. The Holy Grail is Jesus’ wife. (pg. 264)
10. What is End of Days?
10a. End of Days refers to the end of our current age. (pg. 290)
cognoscenti (pg. 170)
echelon (pg. 185)
travesty (pg. 241)
subjugated (pg. 282)
hedgerow (pg. 307)
11. What is atbash?
11a. Atbash is a substitution cipher where the first letter of the alphabet is replaced with the last, the second with the second-to-last, etc. (pg. 330)
12. What is the ancient Greek word for wisdom?
12a. The word is sofia. (pg. 347)
13. What is in the Temple Church?
13a. The Temple Church contains ten effigies. (pg. 384)
14. Who is the “pope” referenced in Monsieur Sauniere’s writing?
14a. The “pope” referenced is Alexander Pope. (pg. 422)
15. Who lives at the Rosslyn Church?
15a. Sophie’s grandmother lives at the Rosslyn Church. (pg. 474)
peruse (pg. 326)
androgynous (pg. 334)
fricassee (pg. 362)
nave (pg. 427)
rectory (pg. 473)