Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Lost Symbol
I received this book for Christmas and was very excited to read it. I very much enjoyed both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I was mainly disappointed. There were certainly elements I liked. Learning a little bit about the Masons (which I know I must take with a grain or two of salt) was very interesting and there was a truly gratifying plot twist at the book's climax that literally made my jaw drop. In hindsight, though, I think I might have seen it coming had my brain been more fully engaged in the characters than it was.
The characters are where the bulk of my complaints lie. They seemed to be secondary, as did the plot, to an overall agenda on the part of the author to expound upon a pet philosophy. Nearly everything in the book took a backseat to the apparent need to elaborate on the various fine points of Brown's personal belief system. The characters were largely wooden mouthpieces, placed into various contrived situations for the sole purpose of pontificating on the matter.
All this was capped off with a series of unlikely strokes of luck that took even more teeth out of the plot. A character dies, but doesn't really die; another's life's work is destroyed, but there's a surprise secret backup copy of everything; a third has his hand chopped off but is well enough that he doesn't even need a trip to the hospital before being deemed fit to saunter across town and descend every step in the Washington Monument.
And the great mystery of the lost symbol? There really isn't one, unless you count the buried Bible referred to in the post-climactic ending. I won't say it was a bad read, just not a very good one. It either fails to measure up to its predecessors, or Dan Brown's storytelling has become too formulaic to remain fresh.