Dan Brown – Lost Symbol

I finally read Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. I kept putting off reading it since it wasn’t really getting the reviews which inspired me to pick it up. And you know what? The critics are right. If it wasn’t for the DaVinci Code, I would not have picked it up. It is a big book and most of it could easily have been left on the editing room floor. There is way too much useless information which serves neither the plot nor the story. Most of the novel happens inside the mind of the lead character (Robert Langdon again) where he chews the information, through an inner monolog, presented by another character often in contrast to his own beliefs. And he’s supposed to be the expert. The remaining pages are mostly about which doors the characters open and how long they have to walk down to the next door. Details about the carpet on the floor, about the paintings on the wall and the objects on a desk – all irrelevant as far as the story is concerned. The book could easily have been better written in about a hundred pages without omitting a single plot or story thread.

I am disappointed. Maybe I had too much expectations from it to begin with. Somehow I assumed that the author who wrote DVC could do better than most other writers even on his low day. It took a while to wade through this book and to be honest it never picked up the pace. There is no plot actually except movement from A to B and from B to C – the wisps of story which do manage to survive are so weak that its an effort to imagine their existence. I suppose if someone other than Brown had written it then expectations would have been more realistic.

The theories in the book have very little substance and the cutting-edge technologies mentioned are based more on Star Trek than actual progress. The “national security crisis” that has everyone running from pillar-to-post turns out to be a dud in the end. Much like a politician coming out of the closet – not much there in terms of a national crisis, except maybe for the individual concerned.

While I realize that Brown is a best-selling author but I also know that its not because of his writing style or prose any more than the popularity of the TV serial “Baywatch” was based on the strength of its plots. I feel the editors just wanted to capitalize on the success of DVC before the momentum faded. The result is a rushed novel eager to get to the bookshelves with the editors asleep at the wheels.

I don’t doubt for a minute that even as I write this, Tom Hanks is busy memorizing the lines for the next movie in this series. The novel reads like a screenplay and not a story written to satiate the mind through words. The words are written with a camera in mind and you can almost hear a director yelling “cut” at the end of each scene. So for me, no more Dan Brown’s books. If I really want to read his next book, I’ll just wait for the movie to come out and download its script. It’ll be a much faster read without any compromise on content.

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