Review: The Lost Symbol


The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol

Author: Dan Brown

Price: $30 (Rs 700)

Publisher: Doubleday (US)

Transworld (UK)

Bantam Press (India)

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Boredom

Dan Brown has penned down an international bestseller

Bestsellers are not always good.

Dan Brown is back. And so is Robert Langdon. In another “fast-paced” thriller. The Lost Symbol. Dan Brown is known to almost the entire world. He happens to be the best-selling author of the very famous The Da Vinci Code, though I thought his finest work was Deception Point. The Lost Symbol is based in Washington D.C this time, in contrast to his other novels which are based in Spain, Vatican City, The Arctic and Europe. Langdon is summoned to DC by a mysterious caller, who seems to impersonate his friend Peter Solomon’s secretary. Langdon has to decipher a large number of clues (including a lone hand) and unveil the Ancient Truth of Freemasonry, the society around which this book is based upon. Sadly, although the plot seems promising, the book is too long in various parts and is such a big bore, that you’d be surprised that you’re not reading from an encyclopedia.

The plot is ingenious and also quite gripping. But the problem is stuff like this is very, very old now. It’s that typical Langdon+Scientist-cum-chick-cum-love-interest+Assassin+Ancient-Brotherhood formula, which Dan Brown has tried and tested for two books. It may successful once, like in The Da Vinci Code, but not always.

Also, half the stuff is almost entirely unnecessary. Instead of simply stating “Langdon suffered from claustrophobia”, Brown goes on to give a full and long, detailed explanation of how he got it. Even though he already has mentioned it in his previous books. And even more stuff on him doing fifty laps in the Harvard pool, and him wearing a Tweed coat. Its boring now. Really. I know it may be for the first-timers but come on now. It’s too much. Have a look at the Harry Potter trilogy. Rowling just gives a sweeping mention of Harry’s past and gets down to real business. Now Brown. He wants to write a big novel. He knows that he can keep you gripped to it. This is exactly the place where the book succeeds. It is addictive. Excessively. In fact, my curiosity had arisen to such a great extent, that I sat up at even one-thirty in the night to read it.

But it really is those cliched verses which frustrate you till eternity. Picture this conversation between X and Y

X- Have you heard about Z?

Y- Of course. <five-line long history on Z follows> …and its known as <this> by the Mayans, <that> by the Hindus, <whatever> by the Greeks and — <stops short>

X- What happened?

Suddenly is was crystal clear. Everything was falling into place. It was in front of us all the time, and yet we didn’t catch it X thought. How ingenious.

<end of chapter>

That happens almost every two chapters. Plus, the book is full of descriptions of rituals and acts of crime, which are really not relevant to the plot at all. They’re just… there. There are too many words such as “odd”, “bizarre” and, especially “double take” that are used too often.

In the end, The Lost Symbol turns out to be a good experience, but it is also a really, really boring book. Read it only if you’re love the Dan Brown style, although it is quite old now. It is nowhere near as good as Deception Point, which, I feel, is Dan Brown’s greatest book yet.

Rating: 5.8/10 (So-so)

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One comment

  1. Ben Chaet · September 29, 2009

    I just read The Lost Symbol in 11 hours. Although it was anti-climactic and very predictible, there was something that I couldn’t shake. Something that was on the tip of my tongue int erms of the “deeper” meaning to the book. Just by chance did I come home one day to my fiancee reading The Secret. I felt like I just had a Langdonesque revelation. I have read The Secret a couple times and the connection was immediate. I opened the first page of The Secret and the opening quote blew my mind. “As above, so below”. I realized that Dan Brown’s illustration of Noetic Science was the scientific justification of The Secret. The Secret is also the “in between the lines” of the Bible to unlocking the mind’s power of manipulating the world around us. The Secret refers to Newton, Einstein, and others that are also referenced in The Lost Symbol. I’m not saying that The Secret is true, but Dan Brown takes a shot at justifying it scientifically. Loves it.

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