Friday, July 5, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Lost Symbol

Author:  Dan Brown
Pages:  671 (Paperback)
Country:  United States
Year:  2009
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is Brown's third novel that features Harvard University symbologist Robert Langdon.

I don't wanna hate, but Dan Brown's formula really is becoming annoying. It may have worked in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons (I really liked both), but this one is bordering on painful, laughable, & unbelievably predictable.
Okay, I guess I can forgive the eye-rolling references to Langdon's toned physique, and probably would enjoy the expected epiphanies, the last minute realizations, and I have to admit - I'm a sucker for any conspiracy theories, secret brotherhoods, fringe science, religious philosophies and all that crap. That's several reasons why I think Dan Brown is a huge commodity right now - he has managed to spin these webs of incredible ideas and back it up with "scientific proof" and preach to us page after page how utterly idiotic it is for people NOT to believe. 

But then we have this ridiculously fanatical villain with the thinnest motivation/reason & development I have seen in a character - a tattooed, semi-Incredible hulk of a man who probably looks like the Engineer in Prometheus with a neutered sex organ. And another who is seemingly an antagonistic character that effortlessly shrinks men's balls just by the sight of her. And how can we not have a wise, kindly gentleman who serves as a father-figure or a mentor for Langdon? Then we have a rich, smart, thin, beautiful woman who apparently makes other women question the goodness of God by the sight of her - we have Langdon's lady partner for the day. Aaaaand we have the perfect cast for the perfect mystery thriller bestseller of the month! NOT.

The novel's ultimate shortcoming aside from its characters that are as flat as a cardboard, is its supposed twists & cliffhangers that instead of exciting you it actually makes you wanna pull your hair out and scream "Damn you Brown! Do you think I'm an idiot??! Seriously???" - which come to think of it, I probably am, because I'm reading his "paint-by-numbers" novel yet again. 

(SPOILERS ALERT) I mean, you already know who's gonna die, you already know someone's supposedly blown-to-bits research is gonna be safe, you already know who the fuck that weird, hateful tattooed guy is not even halfway thru the book!, you already know that the protagonist is not gonna die -_- Seriously? And we already know that they're gonna solve the puzzle, save the world, contain the secret in the nick of time. Oh the tension!!! And then the "lost word" is slowly revealed, of course not without having to read paragraphs and paragraphs of historical/philosophical conversation between the mentor whose hand has been cut off just several hours ago, and an uber cynical symbologist, who thought he has died by drowning (also a few hours ago) who just can't quite grasp the possibility of a word opening the gates to ancient wisdom that will change humanity as we know it. The same guy who have had similar adventures, similar solve-the-puzzle-or-everyone-dies dilemma, & similar mind-boggling jaw-dropping surprise at the end of the rainbow - albeit in a different city, a different compromised secret organization, with a different lady-love. If my hand was cut or I spent alot of time in a sensory deprivation tank thinking that i'm a floating soul, god damn it I would be bawling in a corner, drowning in self-pity, and not talking my butt off in codes or pedantic conversations.  I'm serious. I really wanted to skip the pseudo-intellectual lecture, and just get it over with. And there it is! THE LOST WORD! That ancient secret that has been guarded by society's best minds and noblest hearts. That word which is a matter of national security. That word which men are willing to die for just so it won't be revealed to the wrong people. That word that's gonna change the world and will bridge the gap between science and religion. That word which has been buried under America's most treasured architectural gem. Yep. I have guessed it, but i really wished that it wasn't true. The bible. Amazing---ly stupid. I'm not saying the bible is stupid. It's the unnecessary secrecy and build-up. I could have given that secret to the poor tattooed crazy guy just for kicks and watch him try to figure out what the bible means. Let's see if he can. That would be a more exciting setting for a novel. 

I did like the ideas explored here, as I'm a strong believer of the powers of the human mind, and the idea of a more advanced ancient civilization. I've read from other books about the collective consciousness thing, not only with human beings but also animal groups. I enjoy embracing these kinds of theories about religion, science, and history, so that part of the novel I have appreciated. Just not the mediocre characterization, development, & execution.


2/5 - could be entertaining to some, but it could also elicit a big "WTF IS THIS CRAP?" from those who have read one too many Dan Brown novels. I fall in the second category obviously, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't read his next novels. Because, like a Big Mac, I know it's bad for my cholesterol level and yet I would eat one any chance I get, a Dan Brown novel (this one in particular) may murder my logic and some of my hardiest brain cells but sometimes, I really need a book to scowl, laugh, and roll my eyes at - because that's just deliciously enjoyable.

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  1. Big fan of dan brown and robert langdon since The Da-vinci Code. Da vince code was a masterpiece. After reading Da-vinci code i read Angels and demons which was equally impressive. I brought Lost symbol with huge expectations and as i completed reading around 400 pages i was kicking myself for my buy. Story is very similar with not much twists. Ending of the story is a bit pale and would disappoint you if you are ardent Robert Langdon Fan
    People reading Dan Brown's novel for the first time might be very much impressed but those who have read da-vinci code , it is utter disappointment
    Rating would have been much lower if it was not a Robert Langdon Triller. 2.5 for the novel and .5 specially for Robert Langdon

    1. exactly! Da Vinci and Angels were both enjoyable thrillers, but as you read more of Brown's books, you unfortunately uncover the mystery of his formula. -_-



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