Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
Language: English

Cover of Cover of The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, No. 3)
ISBN-10: 0385504225
ISBN-13: 978-0385504225
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:
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Two globes, a crown...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

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.

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12 Responses to Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    I have never read a book by him and I doubt I ever will. I saw the movie, first one, and honestly it bored me to death. 2nd one was better but only cos of Ewan

  2. anachronist says:

    Yeah, I've already heard that Evan is the only reason you might want to see "Angels and Demons" if you have to see it at all. "DaVinci Code" was lengthy, boring and stupid.

  3. Lol! I didn't like this one either. I don't think I'll read any more books by Brown.

  4. anachronist says:

    I don't think I'll read any more books by Brown.Neither do I. He is a lousy writer; such a pity he earns so much.

  5. I didn't like the DaVinci Code, so I never picked up another book by him. Glad I haven't read this one either. I didn't hate the movie as I already knew what to expect, but I didn't care for it either. Guess if you don't like the book, I shouldn't watch the movie! 🙂

  6. anachronist says:

    Guess if you don't like the book, I shouldn't watch the movie! 🙂 Perhaps but sometimes movies based on not so good books might surprise you rather nicely, especially if they star some nice actors/actresses.

  7. Tracy says:

    Sorry you didn't enjoy it – as I said, of the three Dan Brown books I've read, this is the only one I actually liked, but that's because the plot is Star Wars (the original movie -with a twist), the characters are X-files (again, with a twist – Cigarette-Smoking Woman, anyone? CIA instead of FBI, a skeptical non-scientist male and a believing scientist female). It also alludes to three Harrison Ford vehicles – as well as Star Wars we have the Fugitive and Indiana Jones – was Harrison in the running to play Robert Langdon at one stage? I agree with you that it's formulaic, as always with Dan Brown, but Mr Brown was clearly having a laugh with this one. I agree with you it would make a good movie – because it's already based on one, plus two excellent TV series – 24 and X-Files.

  8. anachronist says:

    Well, movies don't have be that dumb…and this book was the final proof that Dan Brown is not my piece of cake anyway. If old good Harrison Ford played Robert Langdon I would be actually tempted to see any of the movies!

  9. Tracy says:

    I like Harrison Ford, but I think he's too old to play Robert Langdon, much as I think Alan Rickman is wonderful, but far too old to play Snape in the Harry Potter films. To be fair to Tom Hanks, he's probably about the right age, but…(the best way to persuade me to watch any more of them would be to have David Duchovny or Clive Owen in the role – mmmm :))

  10. anachronist says:

    Harrison is indeed too old but he would have far more class than ten Toms Hanks.(the best way to persuade me to watch any more of them would be to have David Duchovny or Clive Owen in the role – mmmm :)) Although I fail to appreciate the attraction of David Duchovny I understand ;p BTW Allan Rickman wouldn't be bad either when I come to think of it…

  11. AimeeKay says:

    Thank you for the open and honest review. I have to say I liked the first book, but the movie version annoyed me. (generally movie versions do to some degree differ from the book, but if your going to throw that much money and that many high profile names into something it should be better) The second book was predictable if only because I'd read the first. But I still found it somewhat enjoyable. (probably cause I didn't look into the details that much) But the second movie I probably would have enjoyed more if I had never read the book. Honestly I hate it when there are parts of a book that are completely different that the movie. If a person dies in the book they should die in the movie.(there were similar issues with the first movie so thats another reason I really didnt like it) If this book comes my way I will probably read it. But knowing ahead of time that of course the pretty rich girl lives while the not so pretty cousin dies, yea that will probably annoy me through the whole book. I understand killing off secondary characters but must why must he make them supposedly "unattractive" as well. (beauty is in the eye of the beholder)Thanks again for the review.

  12. anachronist says:

    Thanks for a lovely, long comment, AimeeKay. I never discourage anybody from reading a book. Of course it helps when you know what to expect – that's why I write reviews. Books and movies…dear me, I could have written an essay about it. Usually movies don't work for me at all, even less if I like a book they are based in. I do agree – if a character dies in a book and lives happily in a movie well…it makes me annoyed.

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