Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Page Count/Review Word Count: 670
Oh, joy of joys – time to write another long review of a Dan Brown novel. The Lost Symbol is the third book in his Robert Langdon series, following on from Angels & Demons and his best-seller, The Da Vinci Code.
Now, in my opinion, the series started strongly with Angels & Demons and has slowly weakened with each new book – I’m not saying that The Lost Symbol is a bad read, but it’s not as gripping as the earlier novels. It does, however, feature Brown’s signature riddles, twists and antagonists.
It’s also one of the fastest-selling books that’s ever been released – 6.5 million copies were printed in the initial run, the largest run in publisher Doubleday’s history, and it sold a million copies on release day. The Da Vinci Code was also a best-seller, and so it makes sense that the hype around its sequel would translate in to sales.
Like The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons before it, it’s also being turned in to a film with Tom Hanks expected to return as Professor Robert Langdon. I wasn’t too keen on the previous movies, but I wasn’t crazy about the books either – while I doubt that I’ll ever watch the films again, I do think that they did the books justice.
Now, I’ve mentioned Brown’s formulaic writing style before, but I think it’s prudent to take a look at it again. See, while there’s nothing wrong with the way that he writes, it feels devoid of life and personality. Brown has lectured on writing before, and it does feel as though his work follows a strict formula that’s copied over from novel to novel.
While the details of the storylines differ, the storylines themselves remain the same – Langdon inadvertently embarks on an adventure, then faces a race against time as he tries to uncover a secret while avoiding death at the hands of an unknown adversary.
I prefer writing to be from the heart, an emotional response to a situation. I prefer writing that’s innovative and soul-searching. I prefer books that were written out of necessity, books that were written because if they weren’t then the author would’ve died or lost their mind. Brown’s writing lacks this vitality – he writes because he’s good at it. He’s the equivalent in the literary world of Rihanna in the musical world.
Of course, I quite like Rihanna, and so do a lot of people – there’s no shame in being a popular author, and Brown has the talent to back it up. Having said that, I wouldn’t waste my money on gig tickets or albums, and I always feel like I’m wasting something more valuable than money when i’m reading one of Brown’s novels. I feel like I’m wasting my time.
That said, the conspiracy-laden storyline is gripping and vaguely educational, and the character of Mal’akh is particularly terrifying. His identity is revealed at the end of the novel in a supposed twist, although I figured out who he was after the first couple of hundred of pages. I’m saying nothing, though – I don’t want to spoil it for you, just in case you decide to read it.
In fact, this antagonist, with his full-body tattoos and lust for blood, is the scariest and most sinister of all of Brown’s ‘bad guys‘, mainly because he’s crazy – you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him. Notable, he’s also the first of Brown’s evil murderers who concocts a plan himself – all the others have been pawns in some evil game.
Overall, it’s worth reading The Lost Symbol if you’ve read the other books in the series, but it’s not the best book to start with – if you’re a first time reader, pick up Angels & Demons instead. If you like Brown’s writing, you can follow Langdon’s story through The Da Vinci Code and then move on to The Lost Symbol.