Angels & Demons

I completely devoured the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demons over winter break. A true page-turner, the novel kept me on the edge of my seat as I followed the exciting adventure of the symbolist Robert Langdon. From Boston to Geneva to the Vatican, the protagonist puts his knowledge of symbols and of the Illuminati to work. Once a murder occurs in a top secret science research facility in Switzerland, Langdon is called to investigate the branded Illuminati symbol on a corpse. One thing leads to another and Dr. Robert Langdon, accompanied by the lovely Vittoria Vetra, finds himself on the “Path of Illumination,” the long-forgotten, top-secret path through the Vatican leading to the sacred Illuminati lair and to the treasured Illuminati diamond. The Illuminati, an anonymous group believed to want to take over the world, happen to be in Dr. Langdon’s area of expertise. Even in today’s pop-culture, the Illuminati has rumored members such as George Bush and Jay-Z. The image of the Illuminati has transformed over centuries. Angels & Demons delves into European history and explains that the Illuminati was originally a group of enlightened thinkers (thus explaining the name of the group), who gathered to discuss science and reason, which was forbidden by the Catholic Church at the time. A notable Illuminati leader was Galileo, persecuted by the Church for supporting the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. As this thrilling plot unfolds, a beautiful balance of both Italian renaissance art and religious artifacts combines with modern and futuristic scientific research to create a captivating, page-turning story. This novel brought to light the bitter, long-standing battle between science and religion.

I particularly enjoyed this novel because many of the things that I have leaned in my CL European History class appeared throughout the book. I smiled when I read about artists like Michelangelo and Raphael, and the importance of Galileo and his persecution by the Catholic Church. After having studied the Italian Renaissance and scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, I found this novel even more fascinating. I highly recommend Angels & Demons for any reader seeking a fun, interesting, and thrilling page-turner. Also, I perpetually find it rewarding to finish a book over 500 pages in length, and this is 616 pages. I finished this in four days.

book cover angels & demons

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold

chronicle of a death foretold cover

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez, is an exciting yet complex book about solving the mystery of the death of a man called Santiago Nasar. Though the killers were revealed from the beginning, the narrator reflects on this event years later and tries to discover the true murderers behind the scenes. Support for different suspects sometimes overlaps and contradicts each other but below are some ideas and evidence that can be used.

I personally believe that the Vicario twins, Pablo and Pedro, are the most responsible not only because they physically killed Santiago, but also for other factors. Pablo was motivated by his fiancée, Prudencia Cortes, who later threatened to break up with him if he did not do it. With a family burden and his urge to show his dignity as a man, Pablo becomes radical and makes the final decision to kill Santiago mercilessly. On the other hand, Pedro’s imperative personality (developed from his years of service on the police patrol) caused him to lose control of his anger and convinced Pablo to join in the effort. Pedro’s dislike for dishonor as a soldier, especially to his family, is even stronger than Pablo; thus, he is credited as the motivator and the first strategist.

Other suspects, in fact the whole entire town, can be blamed, but I will analyze some more main characters. First of all, Angela Vicario starts this whole conflict when she tells her brothers that it was Santiago Nasar who took her virginity; therefore, leading to his death. Keep in mind that the town thinks that it is unlikely for Santiago to have committed it; consequently, most concluded that Angela was lying. If everybody’s assumption is true, then we can debate that Angela is a selfish girl who does not value another human being’s life; her immaturity prompts her to blame someone innocent.

One more main defendant is Purisima del Carmen, the mother of Angela and the twins. After Angela was returned home from her husband in shame, her mother beats her; thus, causing her to be delirious and to possibly say “Santiago Nasar” in a state of confusion. Purisima also demands her sons to come back home in order to help solve how to regain the family’s honor. In this way, she acts as the background commander giving the twins the idea of killing Santiago Nasar.

Through this book, Márquez demonstrates a negative but important trait in our society today. When there are a lot of people witnessing a crime, we tend to think that someone else will stand out. Compared to when there are less people, individuals are more likely to avoid being bystanders. In this case, the whole town did not warn Santiago of this murder and they all watched the twins stab him to death helplessly.