Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Lost Symbol - A mixed blessing

I must first say that I'm confused and torn apart any time when someone asks me about the latest Brown's novel - The Lost Symbol. Let me start with the following judgment - it is a very good page-turner (if you read it), or your ear-bender (if you listen to it). The narration is great. Even after many days after reading you still can recall the tension of the plot and the feeling of being there with the heroes - almost seeing with their eyes.
As I said before - Dan Brown is unquestionable great story teller and just for a mere pleasure of reading good story - this book is worth reading.

However, when it comes to the essence - it is just opposite - it is a very strange book.

First of all, the book uses the same pattern of elements we know from "Da Vinci Code" - you could almost map the characters from the two novels one-to-one. Even the secret device of "The Lost Symbol" is almost the same in its role as it was in "Da Vinci Code". No original ideas...

"The Lost Symbol" explores the mysteries and secretes of Masonic societies. On the surface, you feel the positive attitude of the author to Masons and their subculture. But when you think a bit of, somehow, unwanted effects - this attitude becomes less positive. The cornerstone of the plot - the imminent "nation-wide security threat" is the threat of publication of the movies recorded during Mason ceremonies, with several high-level US officials participating ...
Come on ! What author achieves for the people who do not know the truth about Masons - is that they continue thinking with prejudice and bias against them !!!

There is such a big amount of primitive naiveté, that I marvel at Dan Brown's talent to write something like that. For example, two of the most important heroes, just after the most traumatic events of their lives, just after killing of their son and nephew, in less than 1 hour start to philosophize and discuss abstract truths and ponder on religious matters. BTW, these discussion are worthless, bombastic and almost void of any value.

Another primitivism is demonstrated when it comes to the "scientific" reasearch done by the book heroine. I think Brown could invent something more intriguing than "soul weighing"....

So, I do not wonder when I see such reviews like that of William Sutcliffe's - where he writes: "(the book) is filled with cliché, bombast, undigested research and pseudo-intellectual codswallop".

There is only one moment in the plot which is quite natural and very moving, when the antagonist reveals his true identity. But even this very moving scene is later spoiled by the author, who do not build any interesting conclusion of this pivotal moment of the plot.

So what now ? Read it - and tell me what do you think....

PS. Solution of the riddle: it was from "The Lost Symbol" :-)

1 comment:

  1. I am about halfway through it and it is indeed a mixed blessing, but I have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed. As you mentioned the plot and character is the same as in the DaVinciCode. That is something that I did not like at all (even if you call them freedom fries they are still french fries) and the "mystic" parts und plots of the book are pretty far-fetched, less realistic (;) and just less interesting to me. It is no doubt a pageturner and entertainable reading but I do grow tired of certain elements of his writing. For example riddles are being solved at the end of the chapter the last sentence reads like this:

    #1 he suddenly realized whatever it was that is important at the moment. #2 Everything fell into place and he know why that and that was happening. #3 He looked at her and said: "I know where we are supposed to go."
    -> new chapter with different subplot

    Or troughout the chapter the protagonist doesnt know or doesnt believe in something from an academic point of view and he always comes around and sees the light at the end of the chapter or the next one, no matter how ridiculous the thing.

    These are all valid elements for a pageturner but Brown uses them in a quantity that annoys me.

    But as always I enjoy the pseudo-historic references and the indeed valid little tidbids of information the protagonist volunteers. If you enjoy these elements you should read it and decide yourself. If you found his last two books to be borderline interesting this not the book for you.

    Another good review I recently read in the print-issue is on (How good is Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol)