Monday, January 30, 2012

The Lost Symbol

My first experience reading Dan Brown comes with his latest novel, "The Lost Symbol" (509 pages), courtesy of a loan from my friend Dann. From the inside cover of the book:

"In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world's most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling--a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths... all under the watchful eye of Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.

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.

As the world discovered in
The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown's novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown's fans have been waiting for... his most thrilling novel yet."

It took me a while to take up "The Lost Symbol." As always I was lacking anything else to read, or at least anything else that seemed mildly more interesting. I really need to go to the book store! Do I say that in every book recap? Probably. It was with a little bit of trepidation that I began reading this particular novel. Researching a bit on Goodreads told me that the consensus for this novel was either really fantastic or really shitty. Luckily for me (or perhaps unluckily) I found the book to be neither. It seems that Brown takes a lot of criticism for his writing style, as in he's not a very good writer. I think stylistically the book was fine and very readable. Content would be another matter from time to time. He really framed an interesting story that chugged along at a great clip for the first half of the book. In fact the structure of the chapters made it hard for me to step away from the story. Each one being short and ending on a cliffhanger at least until the latter half of the book when the action seemed to get bogged down.

The characters seemed to be pretty cut and dry. Super good protagonists meets super bad villain, only missing a mustache to twirl. There's a lot of fascinating information about the Masons, religions, and symbols which I really appreciated. Some I had read or seen shows about before but it was cool to see it play out in the context of the book. Some of the "science" and easily deciphered clues presented in the book definitely had me rolling my eyes, but what the hell do I know. It never went so far that I wanted to put the book down, a common complaint of other reviewers.

I can't say this is a good book for Dan Brown as I've never read any of his other works. I guess fans of his other novels should probably be satisfied with this outing. My only other experience with Dan Brown was "The Da Vinci Code" movie and I thought it was garbage. But who knows, a good novel does not often a good movie make. In general I would recommend this novel especially for fans of mysteries and/or thrillers. Sure it's a little bit on the fast food side but so are a lot of novels I read. Sometimes you just have a Big Mac attack!


Bob said...

Sometimes fast food is okay.
At least in books.
Never in food.

Dann said...

I'll grant you the book, like the other Dan Brown novels, is fluff. But, I think they are entertaining. Nothing wrong with a little mindless indulgence.

Brilliantly Blonde said...

I loved DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons (even more). I read them both right before I went to Rome and London, and it was amazing to be at the places he wrote about. I wouldn't have understood the whole Swiss Guard thing at the Vatican if it hadn't been for Danny!!! You should try A&D.

Now go read Front Porch Prophet, damn you!!

Dave said...

Mail me a Nook or a gift card to Barnes and Shitty!

Brilliantly Blonde said...

Maybe a kindle for your bday. If you're nice....and I win the lottery.