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The Lost Symbol Hardcover – September 15, 2009
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The Lost Symbol begins with an ancient ritual, a shadowy enclave, and of course, a secret. Readers know they are in Dan Brown territory when, by the end of the first chapter, a secret within a secret is revealed. To tell too much would ruin the fun of reading this delicious thriller, so you will find no spoilers here. Suffice it to say that as with many series featuring a recurring character, there is a bit of a formula at work (one that fans will love). Again, brilliant Harvard professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day. The setting, unlike other Robert Langdon novels, is stateside, and in Brown's hands Washington D.C. is as fascinating as Paris or Vatican City (note to the D.C. tourism board: get your "Lost Symbol" tour in order). And, as with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless, the revelations many, and there is an endless parade of intriguing factoids that will make you feel like you are spending the afternoon with Robert Langdon and the guys from Mythbusters.
Nothing is as it seems in a Robert Langdon novel, and The Lost Symbol itself is no exception--a page-turner to be sure, but Brown also challenges his fans to open their minds to new information. Skeptical? Imagine how many other thrillers would spawn millions of Google searches for noetic science, superstring theory, and Apotheosis of Washington. The Lost Symbol is brain candy of the best sort--just make sure to set aside time to enjoy your meal. --Daphne Durham
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Elitist literary critics say that Brown is not a good writer, and that his stories are bland. I personally think that if you manage to genuinely entertain and awe your audiences, then you have accomplished something worthy of reading. I also think that "The Da Vinci Code" was nearly an impossible act to follow. People will have all sorts of crazy expectations for your next book that you won't be able to fulfill. As such, I write this review as fair as I can, trying to assess it on its own merits, but comparisons are inevitable.
The Lost Symbol isn't a bad book, but it is a letdown. I didn't like this one for the same reason I didn't like Angels and Demons as much. Also, Brown doesn't advance the story at a good pace. A good two-thirds of the book (I'm not exaggerating, I counted the pages) was filled with variations on such a scene:
Character A: Have you heard of X?
Character B (usually Langdon): Yes, but I thought that was just a myth.
Character A shows or tells B something.
Character B reacts with shock.
Then, insert scenes of people walking from one place to another, being chased.
Then, insert the sentence "Suddenly everything made sense." At least for the next ten pages.
After reading this, I had to wonder whether Brown is a writer on Lost, where people can't seem to give straight answers, and where scenes never resolve any questions.
Here's my advice to Dan Brown:
1. Fire your editor. There were some whole passages, even chapters, that served no purpose other than to inflate your book to an unnecessary size. I don't mind reading big books, but I do mind reading through unnecessary words. Ch. 69, for example, is unnecessary.Read more ›
'The Lost Symbol' is not a bad book. While it would certainly rank it 3rd amongst the three Robert Langdon novels it is still an amusing read. I forgive Brown for his weak writing style and I accept that he writes characters that are fairly two-dimensional with little personality outside of that which pertains explicitly to the story. I accept that this novel was going to have the exact same story structure and characters as the previous two. I accept that the relationships between people will be odd. I accept that most chapters will end with a variation on his cheap cliffhanger "And then Robert couldn't believe what he saw!" I accept all that. And yet, even with all those concessions, this one just left me flat.
When it comes to the writing style I'm not entirely sure if I should be blaming Brown or his editor (or, potentially, his lack thereof-which I guess would be blaming him). The style, while simple, could easily be smoothed out with an editor who was given some room to work. What hurts his prose is repetition of words and phrases over and over and over and over-often on the same page.
Sure, the story structure is an identical match to the first two with all the same types of characters and twists. But here's the issue, this time is just doesn't work like it did before. Here's why:
1. Robert Langdon is officially a moron: He spends more time being lectured to and making wrong guesses than he does solving anything.Read more ›
The book builds and builds until the shockings truths are finally revealed. Without disclosing any details, one of these shockers had been painfully obvious for some time and I was impatient for Brown to just get it over with. When the other shocker was revealed, my reaction was "so what".
I enjoyed the cliff-hanger chapter endings in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, but they quickly became annoying in "The Lost Symbol". Worse, much of the book felt like padding. The last 50 or so pages was like an infomercial -- the story is over, but wait, there's more! I kept hoping the book would have an interesting conclusion, but it ended with a wimper, not a bang.
What hasn't been mentioned here is the absolute idiocy of the characters' behavior. A brilliant scientist lets a stranger into her secret lab because she receives a TEXT message? Who wouldn't question that? By her own admission, her brother didn't even know how to text! The use of phone messages throughout is maddening. A major CIA director hears someone saying, "I'll be there in 20 minutes" and never questions that he might be lying? Langdon flies off at a moment's notice without any confirmation that the person he's speaking to represents the person he says he does? And SURE, I'll bring along this sacred thing that I've been told to keep hidden for years just because you say so! DB keeps using this same device over and over and it simply defies all sense. "Oh, well, this person says he's my brother's doctor--my brother who's been MISSING--so, sure, I'll just run right over there and have a chat with him." In a private home that looks nothing like a doctor's office. "Sure, I'll have some tea!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More eye-opening historical, scientific and religious revelations by character Robert Langdon, in this novel, with the setting based in the United States Capital. Read morePublished 1 day ago by OC Artist
Very predictable. Fun but not surprising. Angels and Demons was by far his best in my opinion, although I haven't read Inferno yet.Published 1 day ago by Mike Harris
Definitely one of the best books I have ever read. This is a must read!!!Published 5 days ago by gingie
If you love the character, Robert Langdon, you will love him in The Lost Symbol. The story was well thought out, suspenseful, full of twists and surprises. Read morePublished 6 days ago by L. Villarreal
I'm not sure if I like it as much as Angels and Demons but the theme or topic is great. And the twist? OMG!!Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer