The Da Vinci Code
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book was intended for adults. In addition to ritualistic sex, brutal murders, and self-abuse, the book contains ideas that may be intellectually confusing for kids, and even many adults.
What's the story?
Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu seek to uncover a millennia-old conspiracy hidden, among other places, in the artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci. They are chased by prelates of the sinister Opus Dei, police, and a mysterious mastermind known only as "The Teacher."
The story interweaves history, fictional history, famous art, and the architecture of France and England, all while posing and solving various intricate puzzles as Langdon and Neveu solve a deathbed mystery left for them by Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere. Most challenging is that the two must not only solve the mystery, but beat Opus Dei to the information, conceal it, and then decide what to do with it.
Is it any good?
THE DA VINCI CODE, for all its success, is simply a poorly written thriller with a controversial hypothesis about the life of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. The characters are two-dimensional and the plot is boilerplate suspense novel stuff. Dan Brown has villains, chase scenes, and some moments of genuine tension. None of it is earth-shattering, though its intricacy is impressive.
Despite all that, it's a fascinating read. The novel opens with a warning that implies that, although the plot is fictional, the research into the development of Christianity is genuine. (Spoiler alert) Over the course of the book, Brown questions the divinity of Jesus and presents a supposed marriage to Mary Magdalene and a line of descent that survives through to contemporary times. Those who take it as a legitimate challenge to their faith will find it infuriating.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the religious themes and the book's hypothesis. What do kids think would be different if the story was true? Did they wonder if there was any truth to it? How does the author tell his audience -- besides labeling the book fiction -- that this is a story and not an alternative version of the truth? Readers who have seen the movie may be interested in comparing and contrasting the two, and discussing how controversy sells.