Aha! Finally I manage to read a book within a couple of months of its release. A big thank you to Ani for lending me the book! There are no plot spoilers, but I have spoken a lot about how I felt about the book, so if you think that it might affect your perception of the book, just skim through the review.
Robert Langdon is invited by his old friend and prominent Freemason, Peter Solomon, to deliver a lecture at Capitol Building. But when he arrives, he finds Solomon kidnapped, the kidnapper threatening to kill him until Langdon deciphers the location of the mysterious Mason pyramid and the secret to power that it hides. Langdon is joined by Katherine, Peter’s sister and researcher of Noetic Sciences, but they also have the CIA on their tail. Time is running out, and Langdon must decipher the Masonic symbology scattered throughout Washington D.C. to save his friend.
There is a lot I have to say about Lost Symbol. I enjoy the historical references and symbolism that Dan Brown referenced in his last two books and this was no different. His revelation of the secrets and puzzles hidden in history is nice, but fell a little flat compared to the previous books. I enjoyed his previous Langdon novels for the way they blended fact and fiction together, but here, it seemed like he had run out of major historical secrets or puzzles. References to Da Vinci Code were scattered choc-a-block, and at times, it felt like a not-so-subtle self-promotion.
There is nothing extraordinary in Brown’s style of writing. The book is slightly reminiscent of National Treasure 2, and Brown sticks to a formulaic plot structure; the whole book takes place over the course of 24 hours. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, which is resolved in a couple of pages. But I did enjoy some of the twists in the tale and the final unmasking of the villain. He tries to awe us with his knowledge of modern science, but it sounds amateurish. In my absolutely humble opinion, Mr. Brown should stick to art and history, and not go about messing with technology.
What I found most irritating was Dan Brown’s diversions into philosophy. The whole subplot involving Noetic Sciences and the “mind over matter” philosophy was (a) boring, (b) pointless and (c) unscientific, however much Brown tries to convince you of the contrary. He espouses the cause of mysticism, but much of what he cites as supporting his philosophy are insubstantial or explained by “proper” science. His metaphysical meanderings are not worth too much, and some bits are quite ridiculous. Sample this:
“Even the crystalline structure of a newly forming solid was rendered mutable by one’s mind. Katherine had created beautifully symmetrical ice crystals by sending loving thoughts to a glass of water as it froze. Incredibly, the converse was also true; when she sent negative, polluting thoughts to the water, the ice crystals froze in chaotic, fractured forms.”
The final few pages of the book were very boring; I skimmed through them. They seemed like an appeasement to all those who had criticized his earlier books as being un-Christian or anti-religion. A bit of editing to that part would have helped.
I think that the book was just okay and not as entertaining as Angels and Demons or Da Vinci Code. Read it to find out what the hype is about, and to learn a few more factoids about ancient history.