Book Review: ‘The Lost Symbol’

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I finished reading Dan Brown’s long awaited novelĀ The Lost Symbol (aff link) last night and thought I’d write a review. Actually, this isn’t really a review, it’s just a few thoughts I have about the novel and wanted to share with all of you. The novel is entertaining. I didn’t expect it to be high-brow literature when I purchased it at my local bookstore, so I didn’t feel disappointed in that regard.

The Lost Symbol takes place over a 12 hour period. This probably explains why the action is broken up by several flashback scenes. In fact, without all the flashbacks, the length of the novel could probably be cut in half. Some of the flashbacks were interesting and provided much-needed background to help propel the plot forward, but at the same time, they really brought the pace of the novel to a screeching halt.

One part of the novel I really enjoyed was the facts about Washington D.C. and many of its famous landmarks. I found myself putting the book down on several occasions to look up this or that landmark to see if what Dan Brown was saying was really true. By weaving these facts into the plot, the story seemed much more believable.

The characters were about like I expected. Most were two-dimensional and I didn’t learn much about them beyond what was required for the novel. Robert Langdon, being the protagonist was more well-rounded than the others. But he also had 2 previous novels to build up a history.

In the reviews I’ve read of The Lost Symbol, the flat characters have been a contentious issue among readers. Many criticized Brown for not developing his characters more. I do understand the point these readers are making, although I think the characters in this novel are about par for the course for popular fiction.

The novel’s ending is what really bothered me the most. If I were Dan Brown’s editor for this novel, I would have told him to cut out the last 50 pages or so. After the plot reached its climax, Brown milked the story even more by sending Robert and Peter on a truth-seeking trip to some famous D.C. landmarks.

Furthermore, we see Peter, who had been kidnapped and had his hand cut off, turn into a philosophizing academic who lectures Robert (a college professor) about truth, seeing things from a different perspective, critical thinking and so forth. Robert also had his own problems to deal with – mainly that he drowned, thought he have died, and then was rescued by a very callous CIA official.

And I found it very unbelievable that after the trauma Robert and Peter went through in such a short amount of time, that either would be up for an enchanting tour of our nation’s capital. Both probably should have spent that time in a hospital, but I guess that doesn’t make for very exciting reading.

The ending was also filled with numerous biblical references and talks about God, heaven, hell and other very religious topics. In other words, the novel was a little too preachy for my tastes in the last few chapters. While I understand Brown was trying to make a point, I think he was trying to hard to force that point onto his readers.

Overall though The Lost Symbol is an entertaining read. My observation has been that people either like it or hate it. There’s no shame in having either opinion and I hope that, at the very least, people read the novel with an open mind. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some fast-paced, escapist reading.

Did you read The Lost Symbol? If so, what did you think of Dan Brown’s latest novel? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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