Book Review | The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Birth: June 22, 1964, Exeter, New Hampshire, USA

Daniel Gerhard Brown, son of a mathematics professor father who won the Presidential Award of America and a mother of professional religious music teacher, grew up in two paradox philosophies such as science and religion.

After graduating from Amherst college and Phillips Exeter Academy, he taught English in these institutions for a while and then he devoted his time to writing novels. Decryption and his curiosity for secret government agencies often led him to write thriller novels on these topics. His wife, an art historian and painter, also helps in his research.

We know him from worldwide known books such as Deception Point, Inferno, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Origin, Digital Fortress and The Lost Symbol.

While reading Dan Brown's Lost Symbol, at some point I devoted myself to finishing the book no matter what. Often I felt like I was disconnected from the storyline and could not even continue but at the end of this period, I finished it. This was probably a mistake because I didn't like The Lost Symbol at all.

I couldn't really tell you the difference between Robert Langdon's knowledge in this book and that of his friend Solomon, the antagonist, the CIA leader, or just about anyone else. They spout a lot of "As you know, Robert..." followed by whatever piece of lore about some building in Washington DC that the author wants you to know. Motivations are assigned to characters, but never really seem to motivate them in authentic ways. Their personalities are so temporary as to feel like afterthoughts in their lines of dialogue.

If we talk about dialogue, there's a ton of it in this book, which would be fine if anyone ever said anything. This is distinctly different to me than in Angels & Demons, which is a story in which tons of interesting semi-historical information help move the plot along. In The Lost Symbol, the plot seems to exist solely to provide a vehicle for a long series of semi-historical information, and in that difference lies the experience of reading a thriller novel versus listening to the world's longest book report.

I hear that thriller writers and supporters reject traditional forms of literary criticism on the grounds that what commentators "don't understand" - what "real" people want are exciting, fast-paced stories. I'm on board with fast-paced, fun stories, regardless of whether they resonate with me as being deep and meaningful by the end. But The Lost Symbol isn't fast-paced at all. It's actually exceedingly slow, relying on two cheap devices to create the illusion of pace.

First, unnecessarily long scenes are simply broken up into five or ten segments with other chapters stuck in between. This is a movie trick, and it just doesn't work on books.

The second device is the revelations descending to robert langdon again and again in every situation. "And then Robert saw what she was pointing at, and it changed everything." or "And then she told him the phrase, and he knew he'd been wrong about everything," or "And then he looked at the picture, and realized they'd been wrong all along." In a better book these might have been cliffhangers, but cliffhangers depend on a sense of meaningful jeopardy, and there just wasn't any in The Lost Symbol for me.

I've matched the book so much, but I think it's readable for some. Those who love the interesting details that connect famous Washington sites with masonic lore will have an interesting travel itinerary thoroughly researched and laid out for them. Had there also been even a spark of decent characterization and storytelling to go along with it, I've no doubt I would've enjoyed The Lost Symbol much more.

“Great minds are always feared by lesser minds.” /Dan Brown
“The power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.” /Dan Brown
“Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand.” /Dan Brown
“The only difference between you and God is that you have forgotten you are divine.” /Dan Brown
“Sometimes all it takes is a tiny shift of perspective to see something familiar in a totally new light.” /Dan Brown

“To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.” /Dan Brownl
“Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.” /Dan Brown
“Imagine how different a world might be if more leaders took time to ponder the finality of death before racing off to war.” /Dan Brown
“Knowledge grows exponentially. The more we know, the greater our ability to learn, and the faster we expand our knowledge base.” /Dan Brown
“Google is not a synonym for 'research'.” /Dan Brown

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