So I posted that really serious Thirteen Reasons Why post this morning about suicide before Geometry and I feel like I need to even things out a little bit and give a more lighthearted review before signing off tonight. And here we are.
Okay, I admit it: Dan Brown books are one of my weaknesses. Like a couple really great Sarah Dessen teen realistic fiction books (mainly This Lullaby and Along for the Ride), I have an admitted draw to Dan Brown’s mysteries. Sure, you could say it’s not that large, considering The Lost Symbol is the second one I’ve read. The Da Vinci Code was first; then 60 or 70 pages of Angels and Demons during midterms (I plan to reread that and finish it next time I get to the library :)); now The Lost Symbol.
Now, I am not the biggest fan of mystery books. Especially of the death-around-every-corner sort. Which is why Dan Brown’s books are so perfect for me. They are academic like no other mystery I’ve found (comment if you know any!) and although they still have the death thing going on, it’s not as prevalent as solving the mystery at hand. That I like a lot.
Here is the novel’s basic premise (I promise it won’t give anything away): Famous symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to Washington D.C. to give a talk for a gala-type event. When he gets there, arriving running into the room, it’s completely empty- and as he finds, the friend (Peter Solomon) who “invited” him is not there. The supposed secretary who arranged for Langdon to get to D.C. was not Peter’s secretary who called at all- it was another man who was asking Langdon’s help in solving a great mystery of immense knowledge. He wanted to know the answer to the Masonic Pyramid.
There are a lot of plot twists, which are expected in a mystery novel. The best one comes pretty close to the end, with just Peter Solomon and his captor in a room by themselves. I swear I was so freaked out that I was just holding my breath until I could finish the chapter (in a very, very good way). I think it’s smart that Brown’s narrative follows some minor characters on their smaller paths- Trish and Omar the taxi driver- as well as Robert and Katherine (Robert’s accomplice and Peter’s sister) and Mal’akh (the antagonist). The flashbacks Robert has during the period when Brown follows him back to the talks he’s given or heard. That’s especially cool as a student myself. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be in Robert Langdon’s symbology class 🙂
It was especially funny that he made several Phillips Exeter Academy references because I’ve visited there and received admission materials from there so I know pretty much what he means by that 🙂
Dan Brown’s writing is okay. It’s not especially poetic, but I don’t think that’s what he’s going for in writing suspense novels. However, I will say that I have read non-mystery/suspense novels that are suspenseful just from the writing. I wouldn’t say I love how he writes, but I do love the academic way in which he intertwines the concepts of each mystery. Each typically involves science, social relationships, religion, and lots of history. While I’m an Atheist and The Lost Symbol has an extremely religious (not giving it away!) ending, I felt like that was probably just the least interesting part of the book for me. It didn’t make me dislike the book; it just wasn’t as interesting considering my limited knowledge and interest in it.
I would give the book maybe four out of five stars. I mean, it was a good enough mystery book and a nice weekend read. I admit it was not smart on my part to read it after Thirteen Reasons Why because, as I said in that post, it doesn’t compare AT ALL in terms of symbolism (even though it is a symbology book, tee hee). It was also hard to follow at parts, and I don’t think that knowing more about the subject of symbology would help with that as it’d make the book less interesting. And there were a couple too many characters and the motives of them were weirdly connected.
So if you like a mystery and academic reads and have possibly read Dan Brown’s novels before, I say take it out of the library and spend a weekend on it. If you haven’t read Dan Brown’s books before, I recommend reading The Da Vinci Code first because I liked it better.
Have a great weekend!