I remember pre-ordering The Lost Symbol on the day it was announced. I had a reason to be so excited over the new release, since I thoroughly enjoyed two previous books about the infallible Harvard professor. Neither took me too long to read, but I cannot say the same about this one.
There are a lot of things wrong with this novel. Many other reviewers mentioned that if felt very formulaic, and I have to agree. If you’ve read both Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, then none of the plot’s twists and turns would surprise you. The big revelation about the villain’s identity was very predictable, for example. The villain’s secret source? Piece of cake. I didn’t experience the same surprise and shock as I did while reading the prior installments. The characters seemed very familiar. An elderly genius attacked by the bad guy in the beginning? Check. The genius’ female relative who becomes an “intelligent love interest” of Robert? Check. A psychopathic villain who likes to walk around naked and praising himself? Double check. This time Robert Langdon asks more questions than he finds answers. Most riddle solving is done by other characters, which rather negates the importance of Langdon as a lead character. It felt like others around him kept saying: “Don’t you get it, Robert? It’s right in front of you!”. I dared to find explanation to what Dan Brown tried to achieve here. The book’s main theme is of course the humanity wondering in the intellectual dark, waiting for the enlightenment that would change the world forever. Could it be that Brown tried to parallel Langdon’s experiences to the theme, as the latter remained skeptical throughout the book only to open his eyes in the end? Either way, the attempt did not register as strong in my book (pan unintended). Langdon’s stubbornness and disbelief annoyed me quite a bit, and I did not feel like the character grew through his experiences.
Katherine Solomon, the present strong female heroine, was obviously wearing the pants in this adventure, since most of the puzzle solving was done by her. She was annoyingly passionate about her super-duper secret research, and she felt like it was necessary to share her super-duper secret discoveries with everybody. Peter Solomon, the great keeper of the pyramid and the strong female heroine’s brother, contradicted himself numerous times preaching complete secrecy about the Lost Word, yet revealing it’s true nature and location to non-Mason Langdon, when even most of brotherhood had no idea about it. And don’t get me started on the villain. His weak reasons for pursuing the treasure and endless rants were unconvincing and plain tiring. I mean come on, a TV show?
Overall, Lost Symbol is very repetitive and could do without at least 200 pages. The characters have random theological and scientific conversations that last for pages, while on the run from CIA and a maniac. Significant blood and limb loss apparently doesn’t slow them down. Phrases like “My God! and “It cannot be!” are overused. I understand that what you’re doing there is groundbreaking, but please stop fainting of excitement every time you discover yet another inscription on the box. And yes, the villan sucks. I just had to point that out again. [ISBN 978-0-385-50422-5]