Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object-artfully encoded with five symbols-is discovered in the Capital Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation...one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon-a prominent Mason and philanthropist-is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations-all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

The last thing I read before I put the book down was the critic blurbs on the back cover. After reading all of them, including this one from the Library Journal "This masterpiece should be mandatory reading. Brown solidifies his reputation as one of the most skilled thriller writers on the planet.", I was left with one rather large question. Did they just read the same book?

Now I'm not saying I didn't like the book, because I did. I found it to be a fast paced, heart pounding romp through our nations' capitol. It's a fun, entertaining read that I'm sure millions are devouring within one or two sittings like I did. That's it though, the book isn't life changing or so brilliantly written that everyone should be required to read it in school rooms.

What I like the most about the book is Robert Langdon, who since The Da Vinci Code, reminds me of a sexless Indiana Jones. A middle aged action hero for the masses, one that appeals to both men and women. He is a fantastic character and I applaud Dan Brown for dreaming him up. he is a welcome addition to the action/thriller genre and I'm glad I've been able to get to know him over three books.

I do have one slight problem with the book and one problem that was a little more serious for me. The first was how much googling I had to do to understand every little fact and nuance in the book. I'm used to that with Dan Brown books, I had to do the same thing with The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Between searches for all the symbols, buildings, and religious references along with all the reading I did on Noetic Science I spent almost as much time online as I did reading the book. I shouldn't blame Dan Brown for this though, I'm like this anytime I read a book that mentions something I'm not already familiar with.

The larger issue for me was how easy and predictable the identity of the villain is. The dust jacket makes Mal'akh sound like the most dangerous foe ever encountered in a thriller, I found him to be a tedious and egotistical brat who's motives really aren't ever explained. Figuring out who he really is, wasn't that hard to do. Figuring out why he takes the horrific actions he does is a little bit harder to pinpoint. The explanations in the book just don't make sense to me. A lot of us have had serious issues with our parents, but I don't know any that go to this length for a sense of revenge that really doesn't make sense. If there is a flaw in the book, it is here.

The other normal issues exist as well; a plot that depends on a lot of coincidences and conjecture, a cast of characters that could be put into any other thriller and feel right at home, and the occasional dialogue that sounds like it's coming out of a encyclopedia or dictionary.

With all that being said, I would still recommend this to anyone who wants a thrilling romp full of action and intrigue.

This will fall under the Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn at Book Chick City.


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Hmm, Thanks Ryan for this honest review. I have met serious Dan Brown fans or people who hate him. I haven't found anyone in the middle. I started Da Vinci Code and didn't like it so never continued with the rest. My husband read the first two and enjoyed them.?

Working in bookstores for so long, i grew tired of the Dan Brown craziness!

Staci said...

I am looking forward to reading this when I get the chance. I took so many notes on the first book too and spent a lot of time online. At times I find that very stimulating but after awhile it can be a drag because last time I checked this wasn't a college class LOL!! Very well thought out review!!!

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Very interesting review. In a way I am more curious about the book. I think I have to get through Angels & Demons first though before moving on to this one. I think this would be a long read for me only because of all the time looking into the areas by googling. It would take me a while to get the background and read at the same time.

I am going to have to get to the book though. Thanks for the great review.

Anonymous said...

Well, Library Journal just amped up their cred with me :) I will read this someday. I have it lying around somewhere; I just need to be in the mood for it, and I guess make sure I have plenty of time to Google everything.

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I finally broke down and bought this book, and have seen mixed reviews about it. Sometimes I think the literary journals are a little to quick with their praise for certain authors.
I generally try to wait to the end of the book to google or look something up when reading an author like Dan Brown, but I have a feeling that won't be possible with this book. :)

Amy said...

Too funny! :) I may read this at some point since I enjoyed the others. Great review.

Oregon Kimm said...

Thanks for the review. I was curious about how it turned out. So what's your guess...will they turn it into a movie like the others?

Wrighty said...

Great review! I really enjoyed The DaVinci Code but I had to look up a lot of things too. I don't mind doing that and I liked learning about the subject matter but I like a book where I can follow the story without having to do that if I don't want to. I also feel like a story can be disappointing if there is too much hype. It's easy to expect too much and than be let down.

I'm sure I will read this sometime and I won't expect perfection. I like the idea of breezing through it because it's fast paced and entertaining. I also like your description of Robert Langdon as a "sexless Indiana Jones". Good one!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Another great review Ryan - I haven't read any of Dan Browns books but have them waiting on my shelf. Although you had a few problems with the book, your overall review made me want to read it myself. Maybe I will have a go at the first in the series and see how I get on.

Also, you are rocking with the T&S challenge. Three reviews already and It's not even a week into January!

IceJewel said...

I have read Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels & Demons'; the latter I recently finished reading.I remember I had to actually concentrate,google and break my head over both the books.I wanted to read 'The Lost Symbol' too which I will read anyway as its not that horrible(your review also says that) :)

The Cozy Mystery Journal said...

Great review Ryan.

I did enjoy The Davinci Code and I've heard lots of good things about this one. Definitely think I need to save it when I'm in the mood for a thriller.

Anonymous said...

I'm still planning on reading this one. All I'm expecting though is a fun book, not spectacular.

Lina Shaik said...

I like your objective review. I was a little disappointed with this one - probably coz I had high expectations after thoroughly enjoying The Da Vinci Code. Also agree with you that the villain's payback plan was quite OTT.