In The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown sticks to the formula that worked so well in Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. It's still Robert Langdon chasing and deciphering symbols in a historic area in less than 24 hours. The lost symbol pertains to a long held secret by the Masons, a symbol -- or word -- so powerful that it can change the world as we see it today. Brown's villain, a freakishly tall and tattooed-all-over man named Mal'akh, is unispired. We've read it all before. Mal'akh seeks enlightenment and he feels that the only way to do it is if he possesses this esoteric Masonic symbol, which he eventually does.
Much has been said about this book and more particularly about Brown's writing skills. Critics have sharpened their knives; bloggers have given their two cents begrudgingly. But one of the things I absolutely love about this book is that it generated excitement in an industry that already has been left for dead. The publishing industry needs this book. People hardly buy new books anymore, and The Lost Symbol hopefully will change all that.
Brown can indeed tell a story, but the language still feels lackluster. If you cringed at some of the awkwardly written sentences in his four novels, then you'll find yourself perpetually cringing as you read this one. The dialogue is unnatural. Characters just throw bits of academic information at each other as if they were talking about the weather. Of course, the only way Brown can pull that off is if he populates his novels with characters from the academe. In the world of Brown, all his protagonists are effortlessly beautiful, have encyclopedic knowledge about everything, and just possess good luck every time. (There's one point in the novel wherein I thought that the Langdon franchise has reached its end, but I knew that it was just wishful thinking. Read the book; you'll know what I mean.)
The Lost Symbol has particular subplots that seem irrelevant to the race-against-time main storyline. Brown introduces us to the less-known field of Noetic Science, a discipline that studies how the mind can influence the physical world around it. Somehow, this narrative thread leads to the concept of the existence of the soul, an idea that really isn't anything new. Even the way Brown constructs his supportive statements for this concept feels flimsy at best. Although, one of the more interesting subplots has something to do with discovering the hidden meaning in ancient texts. In a way, Brown is encouraging people to read, which is a great thing IMHO.
Read this book if:
- You find Langdon hot.
- You can stand seeing several italics in every page.
- You have 6 straight hours to spare.