Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
Cover of The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, No. 3)
Genre: Dan Brown, everything else would be an undeserved compliment.
Robert Langdon is invited at short notice by his wealthy Masonic friend, Peter Salomon, to Washington DC – allegedly to deliver a lecture about the symbolism of the capital of the USA in the Smithsonian Institution. When he arrives there, though, there is no conference, no guests and, most importantly, no Peter to greet him, only a weirdo who phones him shortly after the landing and claims he has orchestrated a spurious event because he needs Langdon to decipher some code and help him to unlock an “ancient portal”. A severed human hand found by the security officers, probably Peter’s, the first clue to the secret, doesn’t bode well. The CIA (why them, not FBI?) is already sniffing around making the situation even worse. What’s happened? Will Langdon manage to solve several codes, one inside another, under huge stress and within given 24 hours? Will he save the abducted friend, his attractive sister Katherine, the Masons and most probably the world (or at least the North America)? You bet.
What I liked:
Dan Brown undeniably did a lot of research for this book. It doesn’t mean he got every single fact correct, but you no longer can find such huge and quite disarming in their naiveté mistakes as those of the notorious DaVinci Code (e.g. the Merovingians founded Paris – gah!) and have field day with them when writing your review. The Lost Symbol focuses on new territory, specifically the world of Freemasons and the science of Noetics, and I found it quite original. Overall the book certainly makes for riveting reading as you follow the twists and turns of the story. As long as you don’t think too much about it. Preferably not at all.
What I didn’t like:
Oh dear, where to start…ok, my head first – horns are already there, red-hot and sharp…tail is properly groomed and waxed…hooves – well- polished. 😉 Good.
Speaking more seriously I have failed so far to find a way to switch my thinking off while reading Dan Brown’s books. It is bad. Here are the lamentable results.
If you have read any other Dan Brown book you can claim you’ve read all his books as you will know very well what to expect – formulaic, somewhat predictable, and simplistic narration. Perhaps the author has a “Dan Brown Story Template” on his PC and just runs on autopilot when writing?
When it comes to the plot of The Lost Symbol the situation is almost tragic – there is no real cohesion, many of the chapters are just short paragraphs, the novel reads as if it wasn’t edited at all. It almost appears as if the author decided to write a B class movie script instead a novel: plenty of action, not much sense. Apart from that the story really takes a while to find its momentum. The early chapters are cluttered with info but do we need to be told ALL of it at once right at the beginning ?
The characters, as usual, are really laughably cardboard- flat. For a Harvard Professor with a specialty in Symbolism Robert Langdon is becoming more and more ignorant repeating in every novel his own words and trite formulas over and over again. The mystery code he solved this time was childish to say the least of it. The baddie called Mal’ach lacks any psychological depth and his back story had as many holes as a broken sieve (but we get the full description of his almost super human strength, his tattoos and a spray tan that covers them instead – truly classy and fascinating stuff). We are also presented with a 4″9 Japanese woman who is the head of the CIA but has a remarkable degree of ignorance of history and generally doesn’t seem to be intelligent at all – just sadistic and boorish. Right. That’s a typical Dan Brown’s CIA director for you.
Finally Katherine, the Noetics scientist, and her associate, Trish. Katherine is rich, slender and attractive so she survives the most gruesome assaults and even lands several times in the oh- so-fine-desirable-and-manly arms of Mr Langdon. Trish, although younger, is plump, not so attractive and not so rich so she is murdered…no comment (it could have been an expletive).
Let me end these complaints by saying that Soganlik is a district of Kartal/Istanbul not the name of a prison. A nice and respectable district with hotels and little shops. Do the Turks even have a Soganlik prison? Perhaps but I couldn’t find it – there were plenty of other names of Turkish prisons but not this one. I am hardly surprised, though. Mr. Dan Brown when oh when you (or your editor) will finally discover the fantastic possibilities of the Google search engine?
The final verdict:
I read this book because my fellow blogger reviewed it and found it to be not so bad. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed by it as usual. I am not a fan of Mr. Brown and it seems I will never be. If you like childish conspiracy theories, Masonic rituals, symbolism, founding fathers’ philosophy, knowledge of the ancients and Noetics then maybe you’ll enjoy his novels but remember we are speaking about a seriously dumbed down version of many otherwise interesting theories and events. In my very humble opinion there are many better positions dealing with them.