The Lost Symbol

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am finally reading again.

Okay, let me clarify. I am reading for pleasure again. I've been reading large quantities of material over the last several months, but it is hardly what I would call recreational reading. After all, "Anesthesia Techniques for Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease" or "Cricoid Pressure Results in Compression of the Postcricoid Hypopharnx" are hardly pleasurable pursuits at the end of long day. You only think I'm joking.

It has been months since I've read a novel. I did reread the entire Harry Potter series over the summer, but I finished that in July. It's been even longer since I've reviewed a book.

What better way to start reading again than with Dan Brown?

I enjoy Dan Brown novels. They fall into my brain candy category. The stories are interesting, the actual reading easy.

The first Dan Brown novel I read was The DaVinci Code. I love this book. The story and the thoughts behind the story captivated me, and I must admit, spoke to the feminist inside of me. Not to mention make me desperate to travel to Europe.

After reading The DaVinci Code, I was excited to read Dan Brown's other books. I looked forward to The Lost Symbol.

But here is the confession.

The book disappointed me.

Since it is new book, and there may be people out there who haven't finished (or started) it yet, I won't put in any spoilers.

The first part of the book was thrilling. I will admit that. There were a few chapters where I just could not put the book down, partially because my heart was beating fast, and I had to know if things turned out okay or risk not sleeping that night.

I felt the book reached it's climax about half way through the book. I kept waiting for this amazing reveal, something that would cause my jaw to drop and my mind to reel, even just a little.

It never came.

As I reached the end of the book, it became easy to see where the story was heading. After that point, the last several chapters became tedious to get through.

Brown has a way of just slightly overstating things in his book. This would change the world. This could effect everyone. I could see that with the themes of his two previous Robert Langdon books, but with this one, I just couldn't see it. The amazing things of the book were in the research done by the main female character, and while Brown describes some of her work, he does not frame it in a way that shocks or surprises the reader.

Like The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, Brown's description of the architecture, art, and history of the settings is breathtaking and detailed. I went to Washington D.C. for a class trip in middle school and reading about the buildings and art in this novel brought back vivid memories of that trip. However, it may have been that desire to maintain historical and cultural accuracy that may have caused the story to come up lacking in the end. I felt it would have been okay to exaggerate just a tiny, tiny bit. Maybe not. Maybe that would defeat the purpose, whatever that may be.

There is also the issue of character. I can easily overlook a slightly poorly written book if I connect strongly to the characters. I do genuinely like Robert Langdon. He is a great main character: logical, sceptical, with phobias included. (Although does anyone else just keep on picturing Tom Hanks?) However, the rest of the characters are 2-dimensional. The main female character in The Lost Symbol could have been interchanged with the main female character in his other novels. Attractive, intelligent, but not much more. The villians, while especially unexpected here (althought I figured it out halfway through) are not complex, but literarily complete evil.

I do not think that The Lost Symbol was a bad book. I rather enjoyed reading (most of) it. But I felt that it fell short of its potential.


Karen said...

I'm still working on reading this, so thank you for not posting spoilers!

I'm enjoying what I've read so far, but it's been about two weeks since I picked it up because I have a couple of other books that I "have to" read. I'll get it done soon, though.