The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown [TSS]

Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
ISBN: 9780385504225
Pages: 528
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!

Comments

  1. Haven’t decided if I’m going to read this one or not. I guess if someone lends me a copy, I’ll give it a shot.

  2. Haven’t decided if I’m going to read this one or not. I guess if someone lends me a copy, I’ll give it a shot.

  3. Oh, I’m definitely reading this. A lot of people I know are definitely going to buy this, so I’m going to borrow a copy.

  4. Oh, I’m definitely reading this. A lot of people I know are definitely going to buy this, so I’m going to borrow a copy.

  5. I think I’ll wait and see if I can get a copy from the library when things calm down. I’m not all the excited to read this one. Great review!

  6. I think I’ll wait and see if I can get a copy from the library when things calm down. I’m not all the excited to read this one. Great review!

  7. I am not going to buy or read this book for a very long time. I did read all of Brown’s books and I actually enjoyed Digital Fortress the most I think. The DaVinci Code was a pleasurable read but already by Angels & Demons I had Brown overload.
    Anyway, I just have too many books on my plate already and while I know I will read The Lost Symbol eventually, it’s not going to be any time soon.

  8. I am not going to buy or read this book for a very long time. I did read all of Brown’s books and I actually enjoyed Digital Fortress the most I think. The DaVinci Code was a pleasurable read but already by Angels & Demons I had Brown overload.
    Anyway, I just have too many books on my plate already and while I know I will read The Lost Symbol eventually, it’s not going to be any time soon.

  9. I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, but I’m not sure I liked it enough to read another of Brown’s books. We’ll see, though. Glad you thought it was entertaining, but I agree about the Metro thing. I take the Red Line every day, and it’s rare that you’re not waiting several minutes for a train!

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, but I’m not sure I liked it enough to read another of Brown’s books. We’ll see, though. Glad you thought it was entertaining, but I agree about the Metro thing. I take the Red Line every day, and it’s rare that you’re not waiting several minutes for a train!

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  11. I wasn’t crazy about The Da Vinci Code, so I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to read this one.

  12. I wasn’t crazy about The Da Vinci Code, so I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to read this one.

  13. Okay, I’ll probably go ahead and read this when the 100 people still in line before me at the library finish it.

  14. Okay, I’ll probably go ahead and read this when the 100 people still in line before me at the library finish it.

  15. That’s why I read his books too- entertainment. I don’t expect great literature. So far I am enjoying it.

  16. That’s why I read his books too- entertainment. I don’t expect great literature. So far I am enjoying it.

  17. Thank you so much for an honest review!! I still haven’t read The DaVinci Code which I’ve had for a few years, I never will.. hoping someone from PBS picks it up but I think there are about 1000 of those up for grabs there.
    I even fell asleep during the movie.
    But I thoroughly enjoy all the mason-mysteries and cracking the code documentaries on The History Channel, they are all quite entertaining.
    Thanks for the review! At least you didn’t cop out and not review it all.. it’s ok you didn’t officially rate it, there is no code that says you must rate a book.

  18. Thank you so much for an honest review!! I still haven’t read The DaVinci Code which I’ve had for a few years, I never will.. hoping someone from PBS picks it up but I think there are about 1000 of those up for grabs there.
    I even fell asleep during the movie.
    But I thoroughly enjoy all the mason-mysteries and cracking the code documentaries on The History Channel, they are all quite entertaining.
    Thanks for the review! At least you didn’t cop out and not review it all.. it’s ok you didn’t officially rate it, there is no code that says you must rate a book.

  19. I love your review.

    I have to agree with you about your rating. I rated it 2 stars in my review but I should have probably done what you did and just not rate it.

    It was a good book to read, slow at the beginning, then great, then oh so slow at the end but I won’t be reading it again.

    I usually finish a book from such an author and then read it again to catch all the ‘leads’ that I missed. It took me 4 days to read The Lost Symbol, usually it would have been read in about 4-6 hours.

    Would I have bought it if anyone other then Dan Brown wrote it, probably not, I would have waited till it was in the bargain box.

    As I’m Australian, all the info about Washington was interesting but not OMG exciting and the Mason information ‘revealed’ was already readily available on the net.

  20. I love your review.

    I have to agree with you about your rating. I rated it 2 stars in my review but I should have probably done what you did and just not rate it.

    It was a good book to read, slow at the beginning, then great, then oh so slow at the end but I won’t be reading it again.

    I usually finish a book from such an author and then read it again to catch all the ‘leads’ that I missed. It took me 4 days to read The Lost Symbol, usually it would have been read in about 4-6 hours.

    Would I have bought it if anyone other then Dan Brown wrote it, probably not, I would have waited till it was in the bargain box.

    As I’m Australian, all the info about Washington was interesting but not OMG exciting and the Mason information ‘revealed’ was already readily available on the net.

  21. I’ll probably save this one for a long bus trip. I found The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons to be great for passing the time.

  22. I’ll probably save this one for a long bus trip. I found The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons to be great for passing the time.

  23. Great review, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought The Da Vinci Code was a lot of fun. I’ll probably be saving this one for my next trans atlantic plane trip.

    I get totally nit picky about things like the metro too, I suddenly stop suspending my disbelief Like in 24 when Jack was in a car chase through Dupont Circle, he’d have been caught! Dupont Circle is never clear.

  24. Great review, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought The Da Vinci Code was a lot of fun. I’ll probably be saving this one for my next trans atlantic plane trip.

    I get totally nit picky about things like the metro too, I suddenly stop suspending my disbelief Like in 24 when Jack was in a car chase through Dupont Circle, he’d have been caught! Dupont Circle is never clear.

  25. This is one of those books I really don’t want to want to read. But my dad is reading it now. I think Brown definitely writes page-turners (mostly because of all the foreshadowing!), but I think he also basically writes his book with the intent of them becoming movies… hence all the italics and the running around and the cliffhangers. Hmmm. I don’t know. I may protest and just not read it, to be alone in my moral victory. Haha.

  26. This is one of those books I really don’t want to want to read. But my dad is reading it now. I think Brown definitely writes page-turners (mostly because of all the foreshadowing!), but I think he also basically writes his book with the intent of them becoming movies… hence all the italics and the running around and the cliffhangers. Hmmm. I don’t know. I may protest and just not read it, to be alone in my moral victory. Haha.

  27. My dad loved his books so I’m going to buy this for my dad. I just wanted to know how it was.

    Thanks for a review without spoilers 🙂

  28. My dad loved his books so I’m going to buy this for my dad. I just wanted to know how it was.

    Thanks for a review without spoilers 🙂

  29. Thanks for an honest review! I had planned to skip this one, but since you said it shies away from his usual “formula,” I’m actually willing to give it a go!

  30. Thanks for an honest review! I had planned to skip this one, but since you said it shies away from his usual “formula,” I’m actually willing to give it a go!

  31. I thought DaVinci and Angels & Demons were pure entertainment and I will read this one too. I like that it’s set in DC. Thanks for the fun review 🙂

  32. I thought DaVinci and Angels & Demons were pure entertainment and I will read this one too. I like that it’s set in DC. Thanks for the fun review 🙂

  33. Great review – liked reading about the good and the bad. I’ll definitely be reading this book!

  34. Great review – liked reading about the good and the bad. I’ll definitely be reading this book!

  35. I have always had lots of fun with Brown’s books but I can’t figure out why he can’t write an ending. At the beginning of your review, I thought, “Oh good, it sounds like he might have gotten better,” but at the end of your review, I see he still needs to work on how to end a novel.

    I own it and plan to read it.

  36. I have always had lots of fun with Brown’s books but I can’t figure out why he can’t write an ending. At the beginning of your review, I thought, “Oh good, it sounds like he might have gotten better,” but at the end of your review, I see he still needs to work on how to end a novel.

    I own it and plan to read it.

  37. now now… HOW THE hell did u read this one so fast :((

    i was thinking i will complete ti before you 😛

    ahh! wishful thinking 😉

    I got it on the 19th .. and i m still slowly making way thru it 🙂

    I read yur complaints… and i will cme back and let you know.. if i agree with you 😛

    take care!

  38. now now… HOW THE hell did u read this one so fast :((

    i was thinking i will complete ti before you 😛

    ahh! wishful thinking 😉

    I got it on the 19th .. and i m still slowly making way thru it 🙂

    I read yur complaints… and i will cme back and let you know.. if i agree with you 😛

    take care!

  39. I enjoyed your review. I have this book sitting on my shelf and will read it when I get a few more ARCs read. I look at this book the same way as I think you did – just something fun to read.

  40. I enjoyed your review. I have this book sitting on my shelf and will read it when I get a few more ARCs read. I look at this book the same way as I think you did – just something fun to read.

  41. I’m holding off til I get this one from the library. Glad it was a quick read although I hate books that drag on and on at the end. I felt that way at the end of Lord of the Rings. It’s great reading books that take place near you. I love when I recognize the places mentioned.

  42. I’m holding off til I get this one from the library. Glad it was a quick read although I hate books that drag on and on at the end. I felt that way at the end of Lord of the Rings. It’s great reading books that take place near you. I love when I recognize the places mentioned.

  43. Your blog reflected my sentiments exactly! The style of writing was so haphazard and contrived and yet I felt like reading more… that is until the last 50 pages where I simply gave up. I felt I owed it to Dan Brown to read the Lost Symbol because DVC and A&D were really exciting books. Unfortunately, The Lost Symbol doesn’t weave that same magic.

  44. Your blog reflected my sentiments exactly! The style of writing was so haphazard and contrived and yet I felt like reading more… that is until the last 50 pages where I simply gave up. I felt I owed it to Dan Brown to read the Lost Symbol because DVC and A&D were really exciting books. Unfortunately, The Lost Symbol doesn’t weave that same magic.

  45. I started reading this book on September 17th on a flight, and I’m still reading it. That right there says how disappointing it is. I will finish it because I feel like I have to, but so far it has not lived up to the hype. Thanks for your honest review.

  46. I started reading this book on September 17th on a flight, and I’m still reading it. That right there says how disappointing it is. I will finish it because I feel like I have to, but so far it has not lived up to the hype. Thanks for your honest review.

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