The Asti Spumante Code by Toby Clements
Created: Mon Mar 22 16:59:10 2010 | Last modified: Mon Mar 22 16:59:10 2010
It is extremely difficult to review a parody of this nature. The Asti Spumante Code starts off on an extremely strong note by creating a strong associative value with the original Da Vinci Code and imitating the style of Dan Brown to a ridiculously funny degree. However, somewhere along the line, the stinging satire loes its sheen and towards the end, you're almost glad that the story is over. Don't get me wrong - I think "The Asti Spumante Code" is a great attempt and manages to convey the humour quite well and yet, by the end of it, there's something missing in the whole picture. As a reader, I found the ultimate effect less than the sum of its enjoyable elements.
In analysis, I can point out to a couple of reasons why the sting is taken out of the satire. In the first instance, Toby Clements starts out by closely following the elements of the original plot, making the associative value higher (which is a key element of any parody). However, as the plot progresses, you find less and less in common with the original plot which reduces the effect and takes some shine off the humour. The second, and more important reason why it falls slightly short is that the parody is too obvious to the point of being crude. While focussing strongly on Dan Brown's writing style and his obvious Americanized tone, the author fails to follow the plotline in its entireity and goes off on a tangent. Again, I felt that Toby Clements missed out on several other avenues and angles on which Brown's novel could have been parodied - for instance, the budding romance between Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu and the obvious blatant bias in addressing certain issues.
A clever parody should be subtle, irreverent yet faithful to the original and at the same time highlight the ridiculous to a high degree. The Asti Spumante Code has some of these elements in parts of the novel but somehow doesn't manage to combine all three aspects attractively enough to be a complete package. However, it is still a great parody and it speaks volumes for the author's efforts that it manages to sustain the intensity for the most part. However, one just feels that the author did get lazy towards the second half of the book and that's where it falls down. Once the associative value is gone and the plot becomes slightly more serious and less irreverent, the level of humour definitely comes down a notch.
I would rate it 3/5. Definitely worth a read, but it's not a book that's easy to read a second or third time because of the aspects I mentioned.