I was going through a reading slump. You know the one where you want to read something but you can’t seem to find anything to read and when you do, it’s difficult to keep going so you just stop reading and you end up youtubing childhood cartoon series instead. I cannot believe it was a Dan Brown novel that pulled me out of the slump.
I admit it, ‘The Lost Symbol’ was fun. It reads like a piece of fantasy and if you switch off your brains and don’t question the logic of the plot and the plot holes it’s not a bad way to kill a Saturday afternoon. Katherine’s research was not only hilariously unrealistic, any mention to it disappeared after she was rescued by Robert, and the CIA’s involvement felt tacked on to add the feeling of importance.
For those who have read ‘The Da Vinci Code’, then you’ll find the structure almost identical. The timing of the plot and general actions are very similar. Occasional chapters are dedicated to the villain’s perspective and backstory. About a third of the way in, the Girl of the Novel meets up with Robert Langdon and they solve the crime together. The villain thinks he’s won but one critical element was withheld or deliberately misinterpreted to him. For a novel that is supposed to be suspense driven, there’s no real surprises.
Furthermore, it has nearly identical elements to ‘The Da Vinci Code’:
- Upper-middle class family has a dark secret that causes someone’s death
- Head of wealthy family involved in some kind of secret group
- Living members of said wealthy family are currently employed in professions that doesn’t earn the income required to sustain the lifestyle described in the novels (all arts or research related, nothing wrong with that, but tell that to all the starving English majors)
- Female member of upper-middle class family is Smart, Independent and Gutsy, yet still Feminine and Elegant, and conveniently Single so to provide sufficient sexual tension with Robert Langdon
- The antagonist is someone we knew all along
- Everyone gets a questionably accurate history lesson along the way
- Clues left behind by ancient group always in a format of symbols
- Unhelpful authorities who hinder more than assist
- Characters more dramatic than necessary
In a way, it’s not too bad since you know what you’re in for and this makes for easy reading, which helped me to get out of my reading slump. But it also means that every Dan Brown novel is the same and by two-thirds of the novel, you just finish it because of the time you invested in it.
On Another Note
Robert Langdon is Author Avatar at its finest. Here is a description of Robert:
As Langdon approached, Anderson suddenly realized why the name sounded familiar. I just read an article about this guy. What the hell is he doing here?
Despite Langdon’s six-foot frame and athletic build, Anderson saw none of the hardened edge he expected from a man famous for surviving an explosion at the Vatican and a manhunt in Paris. This guy eluded the French police…in loafers? He looked more like someone Anderson would expect to find hearthside in some Ivy League library reading Dostoyevsky.
Here is a photo of Dan Brown:
Robert conveniently embodies all the traits Dan Brown would like in himself. He’s described to be broad-shouldered and athletic. He has famous, powerful and rich friends who always seem to need him. All these friends have a high opinion of him, enough to entrust him with family secrets that kickstart the plot of the novel and his involvement. He’s the Cool Teacher who is able to inspire his students and relate to them because he’s still young at heart (although I think the Mickey Mouse watch is actually a really nice touch). Beautiful, smart women all fall for him but he conveniently remains a gentleman and single. He is always dragged into National Crises due to his oddly specific knowledge that only he knows.
This is no critique on Dan Brown. If I were to write about myself, all my negative points would conveniently disappear and it’s not as if no one has never fantasized about themselves in unrealistic situations that bring them fame and glory. It’s just that no one is profiting from it like Dan is so in a way, kudos to him.