The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I was waiting for this book to come out in paperback before buying because I hate carrying around enormous books (particularly in hardcover, which makes them heavier) but my cousin happened to have a copy to lend me, so I got the treat of reading this earlier than planned. I remember when Da Vinci Code was being passed around (I was spending a year in Israel so the ten or so books that we had among everyone at school were passed around and read by absolutely everyone). Everyone was absolutely fascinated by this alternate way of looking at these historical, famous images, places, and people that Brown presented. (While it is true that Angels and Demons came first, for some reason no one seemed to realize book 1 existed until after book 2 was popular) and in The Lost Symbol, the mysteries and surprises keep on coming.

Robert Langdon is lured to the Capitol, ostensibly to give a last minute lecture, only to discover that he has been tricked and the man who supposedly asked him to come has been kidnapped. The kidnapper wants Langdon to decode an ancient pyramid that will lead to the Ancient Mysteries, a secret guarded carefully by the Masons (a society with secrets NOT a secret society). Like in the other books, you never really knew where things were going to wind up. Who was good or bad, what was the end goal, what didn’t we know about history?

I had a number of issues with The Lost Symbol, the least of which is Brown’s a flare for the dramatics that has a slight tendency to go overkill. (Nearly every section ends with something like “The rag was slipping back in her throat, threatening to choke her. She couldn’t breath!” Yes well, A–>B–>C.) This book got a little too spiritual for me and while I don’t necessarily disbelieve the idea that thoughts can impact reality, the things being claimed in the books just felt too out there. It was all too much and it required so much explaining (the noetic science and the actual symbology) that though the plot depends on it, the amount of explanation came off as a bit over the top and slowed the plot down a bit. Because each book is so detailed and complex, it is nearly impossible to actually recall details from one to the next, so even when Brown uses the typical writing tactic of mention small bits and memories of previous books to allow the readers to feel the connection (and also enjoy the nostalgia of recalling the other books), I found myself unable to actually recall the things he was mentioning.

The weakest part of the book to me was the ending, which was too long and dragged out. After everything was resolved and calm again, the book wasn’t over. Not only was it not over, it had quite a bit left. It didn’t feel like we were going anywhere.

The thing that I would most appreciate, is actual colored pictures of the art pieces mentioned, because otherwise, they are asking us to take Dan Brown’s word for everything (or look it all up–which we know most people won’t do). Adding pictures (much like it adds some of the other elements) would make it feel even more real.

Despite all the problems I had with this book, I did enjoy it. There were enough twists and turns and bits of intrigue to keep me interested and I found myself particularly enjoying Katherine Solomon’s character. It was a good read but certainly not the best in the series.

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