The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason
Based on reports that this book was simliar, but in many ways superior to Dan Brown's runaway best-seller, The DaVinci Code
, I decided to give this one a try. And while I can see why it's drawing comparisons to The DaVinci Code
, I have to say that this book was far less entertaining, compelling and page-turning as Dan Brown's novel. Not that the novel isn't trying very hard--but it's trying too hard in spots. It wants to be all things to all people--a mystery surrounding an ancient text, unlocking secrets, a coming of age story and a page turning race against time. But, unfortunately, it fails to really be all of any of those thngs. It would have probably been better if the book had picked one or two elements to concentrate on and jesttisoned the rest--or at the very least, given some of the elements a lesser degree of importance. The story is one of four friends and how a book called the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, an ancient text that is supposed to contain the secret to finding untold treasture, affects their lives. If this had been all it was, it might have been OK. But we get a lot of details of life at Princeton for our four heroes. Maybe if I was more fascinated by life at an Ivy League school or had gone to one, this would be more interesting to me. But the traditions on campus fail to capture much interest. Overall, I have to say this book didn't live up to my expectations or the hype. If you're looking for something with a simliar set-up as The DaVinci Code
, you might find what you're looking for here. Otherwise, it's pretty much a mixed bag.
Monk--Mr. Monk and the Three Pies
If you want to see how off Monk
has been in its first two episodes this season, you need look no further than this week's repeat from season two (repeats already?!? It's only two weeks into the season!). The characters all work well--each one feels real and not like a cardboard cutout. There are laughs, but they come from our understanding and love for the characters, not at their expense. Also, we learn a bit more about Monk and his family through his brother, brilliantly played by Jon Turturro. The mystery is even intriguing enough to keep you interested the entire hour of the show. Sure, looking back, it's not earth shattering, but when the characters are working this well, you don't mind as much. This is an example of how good Monk
can be and why the first two episodes this year have stood out like sore thumbs. Please, let's get back to more episodes like this one and soon!
Interesting Facts from the History Channel, Part 2
The second half of the special Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked
was as intersting as the first part. A couple of things that stood out:
--In the 60s, Denny O'Neill was assigned to Wonder Woman. He decided a change was in order--she was stripped of her powers and lost her costume. She then learned karate to kick butt (think like Mrs. Peel). Feminists, including Gloria Steinhem were outraged by this and wrote letters. After four years, Wonder Woman changed back to her usual self and O'Neill calls it one of the the bigger mistakes of his career.
--However, O'Neill did save Batman from the camp of the 60s show that spilled over into the comics. He did this by taking Batman back to his roots and making the art more realistic under artist Neil Adams.
--Comic books tended to avoid the issue of Vietman. Very few superheroes went to war, unlike WW2.
--Stan Lee got a letter from President Nixon, asking him to write an anti-drug story. He did so in a run of Amazing Spider-Man
. In the story, Spidey saves a guy so high he thinks he can fly and later Harry Osborn starts popping pills (all this and he battles the Green Goblin!) Lee submitted the stories to the comic code authority and they were not given the seal of approval. Marvel ran them without to praise. This helped loosen some of the comic codes a bit surrounding drug use.
--Two influential comics that revolutionized comics--Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.
--The Sandman is the only comic to win the World Fantasy Award. The next day, they changed the rules so it couldn't win again.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/03/2004 10:04:00 PM