Friday, September 18, 2009

Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Title: The Lost Symbol
Series: Robert Langdon
Author: Dan Brown
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 15, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
ISBN: 0385533136
ISBN-13: 9780385533133

As the story opens, 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 Capitol 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.

My rating:

Discovering he's been tricked into coming to D.C. for a supposed lecture - and carting with him something that wasn't supposed to leave his vault - Robert Langdon has no choice but to acquiesce to a madman's request of finding the mythological Masonic Pyramid, decipher it, and deliver the Lost Word, if he hopes to save his long time friend and mentor, Peter Solomon.

It's Peter's severed right hand that delivers the ominous "invitation", but with the CIA breathing down his neck to prevent a national-security disaster, the Masonic order demanding the Pyramid staying "silent", and Peter's sister determined to save her brother, the task isn't easy.

Unfortunately the time that it took to write this book obviously took its toll. This isn't the Dan Brown I came to know and love through his books. And this isn't Angels and Demons or even The Da Vinci Code. Far from it, in fact.

The many (too many) flashbacks slow, at times even completely stall, the pace, the constant jumping from one scene to another is distracting, reminding of choppy film editing, and Robert Langdon has apparently lost his charm and appeal. Because the man riding at the lead of this book was a mere copy - and a rather bad one at that - of the well-developped, three-dimensional Harvard symbologist from the two previous books.
Also, the constant reminders of his past exploits grew tedious fast, but I did love the "sincere" quip on one of Brown's other (mediocre, in the words of Mr. Langdon) thrillers. That was actually the best part of the book, which is extremely disappointing.

What I loved about Mr. Brown's writing was his ability to combine historical data, trivia, mythos, and science in a good, fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat thriller.
I don't know what the heck happened in between TDVC and TLS, but this books simply read as a lecture. A boring one. Luckily the big climax broke the tedium for a while (rejoice, rejoice), but it returned with a bang in the very last chapter with absolutely not showing, but telling, and telling, and telling...Ad infinitum. If you succeeded in forgetting the lecture-like feel of the book, that last chapter brings it all back full force.

And the grand twist in the finale, with the true identity of the cuckoo, rogue Mason...Please, like we didn't see that one coming. I don't think the Dan Brown from the Langdon era of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code would've made things that obvious.

Disillusioned (a rather strong word, I know) and disappointed. That's how I felt after finishing it...Oh, and happy it was finally over.

As many "most-expected books of our century" this one failed to live up to its own hype.


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