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My Favorite Book, Hands Down

first review
5out of 5

by Ange1oBear on April 10, 2007

As you might have guessed from the title, I'm kind of partial to this book. People often ask why this book is my favorite, and my explanations are always woefully inadequate. But here is my best attempt:

Considering the length and density of this book, a concise summary is just short of impossible; the closer one gets to an adequate description, the further one gets from "concise". The main narrative is essentially a souped up version of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" (though Eco remembers to credit "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" with the basic concept). The three main characters create an elaborate theory of history, tying together every conspiracy theory and every aspect of the occult they encounter. It's easy to forget, however, that this is the central narrative, as so much of the book is devoted to character development.

I generally prefer well-written character portraits to a driving narrative, and Eco's ability to incorporate both is incredible to me. Though it's not the most quickly-paced book, I found myself in plenty of suspense. What makes this book great to me, however, is not the suspense, but the time spent creating real human beings. The diary entries, the time spent overseas, and even the way the three men interact every day are all opportunities to create living characters, and Eco exploits these to their fullest potential.

Without overtly stating anything, and without being too obtuse or cryptic, Eco makes gorgeous statements about life, love, and human understanding, as well as the importance of ideas. His prose is brilliant, and his characters real. No review that I could write could possibly do this story justice.
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