The Lost Symbol – Book Review

the lost symbolThe Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

After “The Da Vinci Code’ came out I read all of Dan Brown’s work.  I enjoyed “Angels and Demons” and “Deception Point” was okay.  I thought “Digital Fortress” was pretty bad, though, and decided he must have peaked with “The Da Vinci Code.”

The release of “The Lost Symbol” really didn’t change my mind about Brown having peaked with “The Da Vinci Code.”  If you want to know what “The Lost Symbol” is about, take the plots of “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” mix well, and replace Europe with DC and the Catholic Church with the Masons, let chill for 500 pages, and serve until guests are nauseated.

My real problem with “The Lost Symbol” is that it just didn’t seem half as interesting as “Angels and Demons” or “The Da Vinci” code.  Perhaps Brown dwelt too much on how the Masons are really just regular guys, to the point where I wasn’t interested in what Langdon would find if only he could decode their secrets.  This lack of interest made the things that annoy me about Dan Brown’s writing all the more glaring.  Oh, the italics!  They are everywhere!  And so annoying! And then, when you’re least expecting it, the worst possible thing happens….

A cliffhanger.  At least one in every chapter.  And chapters are only 3-4 pages long.  Since “The Lost Symbol” is over 500 pages, I would guess that there were at least 200 cliffhangers and, you know, having Brown attempt to manipulate me that often just got old really quickly.  Let me also say that the mention of Twitter near the end of the book seemed very silly and very much like Brown was trying to prove that he ‘gets’ the internet and social media.

The middle of this book is okay, but the beginning and end are pretty bleh.  I just couldn’t really care about what was happening.  If you’re in the mood for this kind of book, I’d recommend “Angels and Demons” or “The Da Vinci Code” before “The Lost Symbol.”  If you’ve already read those, branch out and try a new author of historical thrillers.  And if you have any suggestions, for better thrillers, please leave them in the comments.

If you absolutely must, buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.

41 comments to The Lost Symbol – Book Review

  • Like you, I read EVERYTHING the man wrote after I’d consumed The Da Vinci Code. Back then, the book was cutting edge. Who had read such intriguing mysteries, about Jesus and the Catholic Church no less? In hindsight, it all seems a little Scooby-Doo-ish. And a little bit of it goes a long way. I’ll probably read this (like I did Twilight) “just because”, but not any time soon I predict.

  • My question is why, when I read so many reviews saying what a poorly written book The Da Vince Code was, why are people so happy to run out and buy this one? And golly, then add in that it is hard to find another target as good as the Catholic Church again…
    With so many great books out there, why do people waste their time on his books? The really bizarre question is why his next book…and the next…will still be huge sellers.

    You might has noticed I am not a huge fan of his work…lol

    • I think they buy his books because they know what they’re getting, and because it’s a DAN BROWN book. Methinks Brown may be a bit scared to venture too far from what he has done previously that has been such a massive success.

      • I think The Literary Omnivore is correct, but I would add that if you can get past the ‘poorly written’ part, they (at least A&D and TDC) are fairly entertaining books. I think the writing quality is less of an issue for people who don’t read as much because they don’t have as much good quality writing to compare it to. Plus, he is an author that everyone talks about, so people want to be in on the conversation in an educated way.

  • I’m unhappy to hear that The Lost Symbol is formulaic with little pay off. I was quite enchanted by its cover design, especially the back. I guess it’s the equivalent of a summer blockbuster, eh?

  • Bummer. I loved the puzzles of Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I don’t think Brown has any clue how to end a book and I can’t believe how much he packs into 24 hours of action, but I still had fun with the first two books. I’m so sorry that this one fails to be amusing. I wasn’t expecting great literature, but I was thinking great escape reading. I don’t need “the best book ever written” each and every time, but I don’t want annoying either. I already bought it, so I’ll likely read it and probably fairly soon.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Thursday Tea: To Darkness and to Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming =-.

  • Oh dear. I’ve read DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons and will probably read this one at some point (just won’t be able to help myself!)
    I finished The Last Ember by Daniel Levin last week and I compared it to the DaVinci Code in only positive ways. It’s a solid alternative to Dan Brown.

  • Do you think Dan Brown just watched National Treasure before writing this?

  • I expected this book to be another runaway hit after Brown’s other two. However, I’ve never read any of his books–they’ve just never sparked my fancy enough for me to actually pick any of them up.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..BTT: Unfinished books? =-.

  • the reviews really are mixed on this one. I’ll wait for the paperback, I’ve decided. I did enjoy your honest review. Thanks

  • I wasn’t really planning on reading this book, but Keith wants to, so we will probably get it out from the library and then I might as well read it too. I’ll keep my expectations very low – I didn’t really like The Da Vinci Code, so haven’t bothered to read Brown’s other work.
    .-= Meghan´s last blog ..Review: A Separate Country, Robert Hicks =-.

  • I will eventually read this book, but I have so many others to read first. I actually really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Now I’m not a big fan of the movies though. My favortie book in this genre though is The Eight by Katherine Neville.

  • Chad Aaron Sayban

    It does seem strange that an author who has obviously ‘made it’ would need to put a cliff hanger on every couple of pages. I would think success would allow him to write something more elegant. It’s sitting on my self, but I’m not going to be in a huge hurry to read it. Thanks for the review!

  • I will probably read this despite your review just for curiosity’s sake. But that “mix well” portion of your review definitely made me giggle. :)
    .-= Heather @ Book Addiction´s last blog ..Blankets by Craig Thompson =-.

  • That is pretty much what I was afraid of. Sounds like our opinions of Mr. Brown are about the same. I think I’ll be giving this a miss. Thanks for the honest review!

  • I’ve noticed many tweeps saying the same sort of thing about The Lost Symbol. I’ve already taken my name off the list at the library. I’ll probably read it at somepoint, but there are too many books that I’m excited to read to bother reading one that will most likely leave me with lukewarm feelings. =)
    .-= KyleeJ´s last blog ..Challenge update =-.

  • That’s how I felt about the Da Vinci Code. I read it because everyone I knew raved about it and I couldn’t figure out what the fuss was about. I think we’re in the minority though.

  • This review just cracked me up. Oh, wait, there’s an ominous knock on my front door….


    I’ve been eyeing this book but haven’t succumbed to buying it… thanks for the laugh!

  • Well done! I enjoyed reading this review and I think you did a good job of saying “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.” : )

  • I’ve only read The DaVinci Code and overlooked a lot to enjoy it, but then didn’t read anything else.

  • Amy

    After DaVinci I read Angels& Demons and that’s where I stopped. I didn’t think Angels & Demons was a very good book.I thought Brown threw everything but the kitchen sink into it figuring he would have something for everybody and also wouldn’t have to make any editing decisions. I hoped with this book he might have listend to the criticism of the others and tried to write a good book but from the reviews I’ve read that’s not happening. Thank you for your honest review!

  • I’ll probably read this eventually, but I’m in no hurry.

  • Angels & Demons was the better of the two Brown books I read (that one and Da Vinci Code). I will not be buying The Lost Symbol – and that’s all I have to say about that!

  • I guess I do forget that not everyone reads books ALL the time and might hold a book to a lower standard…lol

  • I’m finishing the book up right now. I agree that it’s not as good at A&D and TDVC. Some information is also repeated from his previous books, like with Isaac Newton being all into religion and mysticism, etc. But it is an easy read, I’ll give it that much.
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..The More You Wish You Didn’t Know: Ancient Goddess Cults =-.

  • There seems to be pretty much similar feeling about this book across the Dan Brown readers. I was much awaiting the release just to see what he had prepared for us and the first thought I had after finishing the book was ‘Thank Goodness I didn’t go on and buy this book’ :)
    And they are selling it as such a high price too…

  • I have no real urge to read this and your review pretty much tells me that I need not rush to it. I liked The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. I didn’t se the film version of Angels and Demons b/c it was not in the theaters long enough. Wonder if he just whipped this one up knowing Tom Hanks was already going to do a film, even though Angels and Demons didn’t do all that well?

  • Somehow, I am not surprised that “The Lost Symbol” is formulaic.

    I enjoyed DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, but while reading the back of the book I had a feeling that he had run out of ideas and was just playing out the popularity of the theme.

    Glad your review also confirms my opinion. I will definitely not be buying this book!

  • Kay

    I really didn’t like the Da Vinci Code, so I guess I won’t even try this one seems its faults seem to be a huge part of what annoyed me in the DVC. It was great to read your opinion of it though!
    .-= Kay´s last blog ..Sunday Salon : September recap and Books that Stuck! =-.

  • I started reading brown with the da vinci code, and have found it difficult to get into his other books. I wonder if that is a common problem

  • Ok, so I can’t remember if I commented on this review yet, and I didn’t see my name when I glanced through the comments! I totally agree with what you said on the subject matter – I found the Catholic church historical conspiracy cover-up a lot more interesting than the Masons.
    .-= S. Krishna´s last blog ..Casting Off – Nicole Dickson =-.

  • JZAP

    I like many of you have read all of Browns books and liked the majority of the reading. So I was completely excited about the Lost Symbol, and it was pre-ordered so I would be assured of getting a copy.
    On the release date, Sept 15, I only wish that my copy of the Lost Symbol was lost. I say that because after reading it I wanted to send it back, but can’t.
    First I noticed that there were 132 chapters in only a little over 500 pages?! That didn’t add up until I realized that each chapter was only 2 1/2 pages long. In addition, it felt as if each chapter had a cliffhanger which turned out to be one anticlimax after another.
    I found the book redundant, dull, way too many history lessons, that were moderately interesting facts of Masonic lore. I was prepared and looked forward to some teaching of historic facts, but our hero Robert Langdon perpetually vomited historical point after point after point. The best part of the book was when I finished it and realized I could have read the phone book, (white or yellow pages), and been just as entertained. What a disappointment, and you had such potential.
    Enjoy your zillions of dollars Mr. Brown and please don’t add another chapter to Robert Langdon’s exhausted existence.

  • Chris

    If you are looking for the hidden meaning in the Bible, I recommend reading the “Bible Enlightened”. But I have to warn you: it is not a novel, it is a reference book in two volumes (actually there is also a third one with about 1000 illustrations to the text of the other two volumes).

  • sudhir bhatia

    one of the most boring boooks i have ever read

  • Marilee

    The phrase “I’m sorry?” used a number of times, supposedly meaning “I don’t understand” got rather tiresome. Do not think the CIA would be actively involved in anything in this country. Their job is overseas espionage. But, of course, this is fiction.

  • […] and some of the common complaints against this book, all of which I agree with, you should visit Jen, Swapna, and Michele.  For reals, do not read any further if you don’t want […]

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