Uncovering “The Lost Symbol”

Posted: July 31, 2010 in books
Tags: , ,

Here’s the deal with Dan Brown: once you’ve read one of his novels, the rest become predictable. He’ll hit you with plot twists here and there, to the point that you’re expecting a twist as you progress through his novels. His novels have have a signature beat, and (this is especially true in the last 3-4 years) you begin to wonder if he writes with commercial success in mind.

Regardless of all of these, I’d still read the adventures of Robert Langdon. Nerd that I am, Dan Brown will make me read up on the topics of his novels—the Holy Grail, CERN, the Knights Templar, the Papacy, and now, the Masons and Noetics, thanks to his latest commercial success, “The Lost Symbol”.

In this novel, Robert Langdon is unwittingly drawn in to a sinister plan to unlock secrets of the Masons. The events in the novel take place in a span of several hours, written in a way that cuts from one event to another simultaneously happening. And the main antagonist? A more sinister version of Silas and the Hassassin, who, oddly enough, reminds me of Xerxes in the movie “300”. As with “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons”, the novel is based on a hefty amount of research. In true Dan Brown fashion, you’re now drawn in to try and determine for yourself what is fact and what is fiction.

“The Lost Symbol” is a pretty easy read, despite having over 600 pages in mass market paperback version (no, sorry, Dan Brown doesn’t merit to be purchased in hardbound cover in my book). Brown packed in more back stories and explanations of Masonic symbols in this book than his previous efforts, which I didn’t mind much. What gets my beef is when he goes into the dialogue between and among characters—that’s when the writing gets sloppy, with the abuse of the ellipsis (ack, one of my greatest writing pet peeves!). Good thing the book is fast-paced, so one doesn’t have to dwell much on the writing style of the dialogue. My other beef—Brown can sure get corny. (Circulating a video to all media outfits nationwide via email? Really?)

Nothing really impressive about “The Lost Symbol”, but if you’re a nutter who’d want to know more about the Masons or even the buildings in Washington D.C., then this should be a start. One other thing—the book solidifies that Brown’s works have both a tone and a template in terms of unfolding the story. Again, just a few things one might want to overlook to enjoy the book.

And I just want to say that CIA administrator Inoue Sato is quite the Dragon Lady!

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Comments
  1. artseblis says:

    you like historical mysteries, too! i didn’t take to dan brown but i love the genre.

    have you heard of ANGELOLOGY By Danielle Trussoni? am really intrigued by it.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/books/review/Cokal-t.html?_r=1

    • Mika says:

      Just read the review. This passage sold me:

      With “Angelology” she revisits the subterranean burrows and the concern with paternity and inheritance, twisting them into an elegantly ambitious archival thriller in which knowledge dwells in the secret underground places, labyrinthine libraries and overlooked artifacts that have been hallmarks of the genre from “The Name of the Rose” and “Possession” to “Angels and Demons” and “The Historian.”

      Is this available locally?

      • artseblis says:

        Yes, at fully Booked. Saw it last sale at the Fresh from the Box section near the entrance. But i didn’t buy yet because I was low on funds. It was selling for 700+.

      • Mika says:

        Thanks for the heads up! I’ll probably have to wait a couple more weeks to get that! (Or wait for a cheaper version, bahala na!)

  2. Chachic says:

    Hi! Sorry for the totally random comment but I saw your blog in Honey’s list of Filipino book bloggers and I was wondering if you’d like to join a directory of sorts that I created? You can learn more about it here: Filipino Book Bloggers 🙂 I’m trying to come up with a comprehensive list of Filipino book bloggers and encourage discussion by posting a topic related to blogging every Friday, where everyone can leave comments.

    • Mika says:

      No need to apologize. Random is cool. Sure, I’ll shoot you an email for the directory and join in the Friday discussions. As long as work doesn’t get in the way. 🙂

  3. Aldrin says:

    Dan Brown is to so-called smart thrillers as Nicholas Sparks is to romance novels. That is to say, both authors are one-trick ponies. I couldn’t agree more with your opening sentence: “…[O]nce you’ve read one of his novels, the rest become predictable.”

    • Mika says:

      Haha, I read Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook” in high school. Fine, it was OK until the end, which really threw me off. After that, I never read any other book written by him.

      Cut to college: a friend goes, “You HAVE to watch ‘A Walk to Remember’! It’s so romantic!” Me: “Let me guess, one of the lead character died?” Friend’s face falls and she groans, “I thought you were a cheeseball!” (I think I am, just not of the Nicholas Sparks variety.) To date, I still avoid Nicholas Sparks like a dog with rabies.

      As for Dan Brown, I’m convinced he’s got a template to follow when it comes to writing. It’s like: premise A, premise B, plot movement A, then lets have a twist, plot movement B, put in another twist, climax, denoument. Then he makes a big deal out of psyching you to expect a radical change in what you believe in, only to have a watered-down conclusion that doesn’t really meet your expectations. I smell the formula for commercial success.

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