Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol (2009)

This was one of those times when I gave myself a proud pat on the back for not buying the book but borrowing it from someone.

After two bad nights in a row, today I wasn't feeling up to do much so I thought spending the afternoon with some light reading should be fun and less demanding than other activities.

I was familiar with Dan Brown's works as I had read his previous novels, again borrowed books. The funny thing is, I remember telling a friend that I liked The Digital Fortress more than Angel & Demons but for the life of me I can't remember what the first one was all about.

Anyway, back to The Lost Symbol... The plot is thin, basically the same as in the previous books, carried on by the same schematic characters even if they have different names. Religion and science are a heavy theme and device plot, and the father and son conflict is not absent here either. The bad guy is a total nutcase as usual, the conspiracy is spread world wide, and in the middle of all these our hero, Robert Langdon, is more than a little lost. I would say even more than usual.

The action takes place during one whole day, less than a day actually, including character's death, plus the additional gore, unveiling of most well kept hidden mystery and enlightment. As far as I am concerned, running around Washington and all its history was far less interesting than doing it in Europe. And guess what, I don't care for the Masons one way or the other.

It took me a while to realise what bothered me the most while reading, it was the writing style. I swear it feels like it was written for retards. The simple phrases that just fly past your ears not leaving anything behind, not one bit making you stop and thing. To compensate there are big chunks of info dump that feel like copied and pasted from Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia, and whose only purpose is to interrupt the story flow. I particularly hated the way each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, that was terribly annoying along with switching perspective so often.

As a side note, the whole weighting of the soul experiment screams Robert J. Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment rip off. Someone should take note and sue for copyright infringement.

But the book sells, because it's an easy read, one doesn't need more than two brain cells to go through the whole thing (I said two because one should keep the other awake and prevent it from packing and going away on holiday) and it targets three big masses of the audience: conspiracy fans, supporters of the Bible and detractors of the church. Like they say, with one bullet it manages to kill three birds, and I guess that's still something.

From me, though, it gets two thumbs down (and big toes too for that matter). The most entertaining part was looking up for lists with the facts the author got wrong. That was actually fun.

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