Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Genre: Historical Thriller
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: Not Rated
From the publisher’s website:
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.
I have to say, I don’t even know where to start with The Lost Symbol. I contemplated not even reviewing it, but there were a lot of people on Twitter who were curious as to what I thought of it (I’m looking at you, Jen!) So here goes. (And just so you know, this review is spoiler free).
First, you will notice that I didn’t rate this book. That’s because I really couldn’t decide on a rating – I didn’t want to rate it too low because I actually did enjoy it, but at the same time, I feel like rating it highly is a bit of an insult to the other books at that rating level because it’s not that great. Hence the decision to just not rate it. Cop out? Probably. Oh well.
First, the good:
I honestly did enjoy reading this book, much like I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I like the whole historical thriller genre – I’ve read a lot of them. Therefore, I can tell you when a book of this type is good and when it’s not. This one’s actually a lot of fun. Brown kept me hooked and kept me reading late into the night. In other words, it’s not a disappointment like many thought it would be. Dan Brown didn’t set himself up for failure – he’s written a solid and enjoyable historical thriller that his fans, and lovers of the genre, will likely eat up.
Additionally, I really loved that he set this book in Washington, DC, where I live. I’ve visited a lot of these places recently and it was great to be able to picture them. It was nice that Brown set this book in the United States – I think that will be an appeal to readers. It makes it much more relatable for Americans, even for those who don’t live in this area. I have to say, I’m glad I read this book before the Washington, DC Dan Brown tours start popping up everywhere – I have a feeling I’m going to get sick of The Lost Symbol really fast.
Brown also created a new formula for himself with The Lost Symbol. If you’ve read most of Dan Brown’s books, you know what I’m talking about – he has a certain formula he’s used in every plot up until now. He actually stayed away from that this time, thankfully, so I was actually surprised by what happened.
Now, for the bad:
Oh holy foreshadowing, Batman!! I couldn’t believe the amount of foreshadowing Brown used. I mean, I know he laid it on pretty thick in The Da Vinci Code, but come on! I felt like every (relatively short) chapter ended with some sort of crazy discovery that Langdon made, though Brown never actually said what it was. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell us what Langdon found instead of dropping heavy hints about how OMG SHOCKING it was, and then telling us on the very next page, at the beginning of the next chapter.
It also seems like Brown was trying to make some sort of philosophical statement with The Lost Symbol, which is laughable at best and stupid at worst. The book moves at a pretty brisk pace until the last 50 pages of the novel, when everything has pretty much been figured out. Then it. Just. Drags. On. And. On. Brown spends time trying to enlighten the reader and spread some sort of philosophical message, when all we really want out of him is a good story.
Additionally, I know this is really nitpicky, but in The Last Symbol, Brown has Langdon taking the metro (specifically the Blue Line) at about 11 PM. There’s nothing really notable about this, but as anyone who lives in this area knows, it takes about 20 minutes to get a train at that time of night. Therefore, how is it possible that Langdon had enough luck to catch a train about a minute after he entered the Metro station? NOT REALISTIC.
In the end, I’m very glad I read The Lost Symbol. All I was expecting was a fun story and a few hours of entertainment, and I definitely got that. It’s not high literature, but it’s not trying to be. It was a good story that actually wasn’t ruined by the hype (probably because my expectations weren’t that high!) If you’re a fan of the genre or enjoyed Brown’s previous works, I’d definitely pick this one up – but don’t be in too big of a hurry. You might enjoy it more when the hype has worn down!