Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Lost Dan Brown

Before I begin let me inform you all that this is not to be considered a conventional book review. Without giving out a summary or spoilers (I'm sure many still haven't read it) I'd try to sum up my views on Dan Brown's latest installment.
So then let's start at the beginning. The fact that I got hold of this book on the very day it released worldwide and yet managed to finish reading it only yesterday should,in itself, be considered a miracle. That's because if a book manages to capture my interest I usually devour it within a single day(at the most 2 days) no matter how lengthy it might be. But unfortunately I read The Lost Symbol over a span of a week.
This probably speaks volumes of how unimpressed I'm with Dan Brown this time.
Anyway without digressing any further let's come to the plot-

To tell you the truth this novel has no actual plot because it had no aim from the very beginning.
So what does this book have then?

The answer consists of - Robert Langdon, his long time friend and mentor Peter Solomon who's in mortal danger,a deluded lunatic as the bad guy (just like always), Peter Solomon's beautiful sister as Langdon's companion for the night who's conducting some highly important research work on Noetic Sciences (just another replacement for Vittoria Vetra or Sophie Neveu), Freemasons, the CIA and of course an all-too-familiar routine of figuring out hidden codes, symbols, puzzles so as to thwart the villain's plans and save the world from disaster before it's too late.

Okay that's all good. But what is Robert Langdon doing here? - Half the time he is arguing quite uselessly with the other characters saying he doesn't believe in an ancient Masonic legend, around which the entire plot revolves.
I think a man who had discovered Mary Magdalene's tomb in his earlier adventure should have a more broad-minded perspective than that.
The time he spends deciphering few codes spans only 15-20 pages of the 339 page book(e-book). The rest of it is filled with too much information about the Masons, Solomon family stories and the warped thoughts of the psychopath villain.

Even though Angels and Demons had quite a far-fetched plot it never failed to make the reader gasp. Atleast it had some edge-of-the-seat suspense to offer. Also the age-old animosity between the Illuminati and the Church provided quite an intriguing backdrop.
Same with The Da Vinci Code. The controversy surrounding the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene and the Merovingians was spicy enough to keep the reader enthralled till the very end.
But the Masons are not that interesting.
On one hand they are an ancient brotherhood dedicated to searching for light (symbolizing supreme knowledge) amidst darkness and on the other hand they're protecting an ancient wisdom for centuries which supposedly has the power to bring about man's ultimate enlightenment.
Contradictory isn't it?
And why keep something secret that is supposed to benefit mankind?
Uh yea right 'cause it might fall into the wrong hands and result in disasters of unimaginable proportions.
As if the world isn't already in chaos and on the verge of destruction. We could sure do with some ultimate knowledge (or whatever) in these troubled times.

Unlike his previous adventures Langdon does not make a startling discovery at the very end. Nobody gets to know what the Ancient Mysteries actually are. Brown only provides us with a brief overview which is not enough. And this is where the readers are bound to feel disappointed.

I think maybe it's time to put Robert Langdon to rest. We've had enough of religious symbology, secret societies and historical controversies. Though I won't mind another Deception Point or Digital Fortress.(I liked these 2 novels much better than your latest work Mr. Brown)

I rated The Lost Symbol 2 stars on Shelfari because 'I didn't like it' (Shelfari interprets it that way). But then again I'm sure different readers will feel differently about the same book. So don't harbor any prejudices based on my views.

Read it yourself and find out :)

Sig 2


Aditya said...

Ever tried to read a sidney Sheldon book? First timers will love him and after that he sucks! Because all his books are the same-same plot.

Dan brown is becoming another Sidney. The Lost SYmbol has SAME plot-One assasin, a heroine whoz kin dies/in trouble , A CIA/FBI, some great secret and mr.Langdon always gets mixed up where he doesnt belong :)

Karthik said...

Damn! What a weird co-incidence! I just came back from a book shop, utterly disappointed. Had been with the intention of buying 'The Lost Symbol,' but the price tag said 699 bucks, so didn't buy. :(
And now you are saying it's pathetic.
What's happened to Danny boy, I wonder. :|
Guess I'm gonna read tinkle digest today... :D

Hopeless Romantic said...

i got my copy of the book my bday gift....looking fwd to reading it after mon..when my exams r done :)

Nightwing said...

atodine ses korli?? :P

seriously though dan brown is becoming formulaic-one assasin,one authority figure,one girl whose only elderly guardian is in some secret society,discovering things from painting which were all along there,and the constant references to can predict the plot twists...

Quintessence Of Illusion said...

Well.........ta start with LOst Symbol is a horribly pathetic book after quite a long time........The book surely has many interesting facts and makes us aware of many interesting historical facts.....but the climax......GOd help the readers.......i culnt understnd y der was so mch fuss regarding a hidden bible............Peter Solomon says that if it falls in wrng hands it could be disastrous.......but dun ya awl thnk understndin ancient texts cn neva b disastrous.......infact its a great step towards the development of mankind......??????
the Freemasonic history neva dealt wid The Bible directly......
Throughout the whle book i found Brown ta b xtrmly confusd.....creatin an unescrly complex plot..........and the whle code-crackin is so mch o a hype.....afta ya get ta knw dat d real secret is a ......infact i didnt realys y wot was noetics doin d novel...........masonic history n noetics combo fails ta work wonders............last bt nt d least Robert Langdon had nuthn ta do thruout d whle buk........i dunno wot was he doin in d whle story............yeah um disappntd

sawan said...

with all due respect Samadrita, i wonder why people actually look for a "story" or "plot" in a book? i am sure the book spreaks light on various things you and I never knew. did ya try to google or wiki every painting/sculpture/men/place discussed there? you would find the book to be the best substitute to history books. Samadrita, i accept that this book failed to keep the readers at pin point looking forward for an unexpected climax, but i also found that this book is much more subjective covering more knowledge than any of his books. Have you read the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne? the idea is similar. Dan brown went ahead to give some scientific proof for the so called "idea" which is much debated. the field of Neotic Science does exist and the experiments to prove the power of mind is very much in progress and you could definitely be part of it - there are sites which ask you to join them at a specific time and think about something at one specific moment and they research on it. Samadrita, forget that you bought a fiction, try and analyze it as a history text, a text about ancient symbols and truths about our mind/soul. do some research. maybe that would give the book a better rating. the beauty of the book, many a time, is not how it ir written - its how you and I read it.

@Quintessence Of Illusion : Bible for you might be a book on Christianity, but for many Bible is the sacred writings of any religion. Its sad that some one who have actually read that book wrote that understanding ancient texts can never b disastrous! yes, it definitely would be a great step towards the development of mankind, but would it be used for good or bad is a question we should be asking to ourself. development of Nuclear energy is definitely good. When it is with a government which has sense, it acts for enriching their human resources by giving more energy, and think of it when it is at the hands of terrorists - wud it be good enough? The character of langton is supposed to be confused, the questions he asks are the ones any one who believes in academics and proofs would ask. for the last words of your comment, i believe Langton had much to do with the whole book. First, i dont see the book as a story or fiction. i look at it as a work of bringing together different questions one may have reading the books on religion/faith/body, mind and soul. and the book answers much of it within the limits of publication lisence. and i guess its a fair deal after all.

Being Pramoda... said...

HI Samadrita,

well, thanks for sharing after reading ur views about the lacking of story line and the comanalliy, i would definitely give a thought when i read it ..

Thanks gal..:)

Daone said...

I agree with Sawan on some points. What I love the most about Dan's books is that besides an excellent plot line, it tells some things which otherwise I wouldn't have ever bothered to research on. But Sawan, you must understand, when you go to a bookstore to buy The Lost Symbol, you won't find it under the 'Reference Books' or 'Religious books' section but the 'Suspense thriller' one. And when its placed there, the book has to have a proper plot line otherwise it ends up disappointing as Sam is here.
Personally, even I won't mind having a change from Robert Langdon. Don't stretch it too far Dan just because you tasted phenomenal success with one particular character. And wow, for an old symbology prof, Robert seems quite a womanizer!

atindriyo said...

jjah! boi ta jogar korey phelechhi jey!!!

Samadrita said...

@Aditya:I have so far read only one Sidney Sheldon book and he didn't impress me that much.Too much drama really makes me throw up :) The plot sounds like a cheap Hollywood potboiler.And you're right about Dan Brown.He should just stop writing any further Robert Langdon adventures and try something different.

@Karthik:Well I'd say the book isn't worth buying.You can get it from somebody and read though.Form your own opinion :)

@Nightwing:I was so bored with the beginning that I didn't bother to read it for several days. :P

Samadrita said...

@Hopeless Romantic:Read and find out.Let me know how you liked it though :)

QOI:That's what my post is about.The study of Noetics has nothing to do with the plot whatsoever.Weird!

@sawan:I guess daone already said whatever I wanted to point out in support of my observation.Dan Brown is a fiction-writer,a novelist specializing in suspense thrillers.No matter what he uses as a backdrop he is expected to enthrall his readers.And this time Brown fails miserably at it.And this book has a whole lot of unnecessary information.Katherine Solomon and her work had nothing to do with the plot.As far as the Masons go after learning their history and purpose of existence I wasn't very impressed.
And btw I had read about the Masons before this book.They're not really that much of a secret society.
And there's another thing.A book might have an excellent plot,a smooth flow of events and superb language but it still might be unable to make an impression.A book has to keep a reader engrossed till the very end.And The Lost Symbol fails at it.

Samadrita said...

@Pramoda:You're welcome girl :)

@daone:I can't agree more :)

@Atindriyo:Pore dekh kamon.Tarpor amay bolis. :)

Aditya said...

Dont read Sidney Sheldon at all.

My recommendations-

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Godfather By Mario Puzo

Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Firm by John Grisham

The Janson directive , Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum.

Etc :)

heavealie said...

told you omkar he is not that good.the da vinci code was a nice book but was hyped a lot.i mean there are many other book which are better than da vinci.but once a book gets into some controversy and the film makers get a wisp of it the book shelves start to clean up!!angels and demons was again somewhat on the lines of da vinci only!!i'm planning on starting with the robert ludlum series.@omkar his books dont tel us anything that i havent read on net or known in my life i think you are new with all these concepts but i am not.i know a lot about bible and i mean a lot.and i was already aware of the religious societies concept even when there was no dan brown.its time he starts with a new character and take the symbology scale to a new level otherwise i wont waste my time and rather spend my time on indiana jones series!!hey samadrita thx for the review you have confirmed my doubts lol than also dont knw why but i will read the lost symbol.hey btw!!!i am looking for the bridge to terabithia it available anywhere not e-book haan i hate e-books.keep writing!!

Nightwing said...

@aditya-man,you just gave a list of my favourite books...these books you mentioned are truly awesome....but samadrita likes to read chick lit and romantic novels... :P

Sorcerer said...

I am gonna read it today!


Samadrita said...

@Aditya:I've read Grisham.Mostly his novels have socio-political backgrounds.I've Ayn Rand in my e-book library but I remember a friend of mine saying The Fountainhead is boring so haven't tried out reading it yet. :P
And no Godfather for me please.I don't dig gangsters much.

@Anish:*stuffs him inside a sack and throws it into the Pacific Ocean*

I read everything including chicklit and romance novels. :X

@heavealie:You see books by lesser known American authors or children's novels aren't even available at book-stores like Crossword or Star-mark.So I can't really say where you'll find them.You just have to keep looking if you don't wanna read e-books.

@Sorceror:Yea read the book and find out for yourself :)

Vidhu .. !! said...

i just got d book !! will get back wid detailed comments once i've read it :)

Akansha Agrawal said...

I avoided reading your review, till I finished reading the book. Now that I am done with it, here I am...

I found the book too repetitive, as you pointed, it's got its interesting moments but yea nothing that can make u sit on the edge. Baaki I am planning a detailed review too :D :D

Half Indian said...


Samadrita said...

@Vidhu:Sure thing girl.

@Akansha:True.That's exactly how I felt. :)

@Half-Indian:Happy Diwali to you too :)

Mahesh Sindbandge said...

Hmmmmmmm :) Comparison always disappointed me. Same with you...Did not read yet...Lets see

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