[I tried to offer a semi-objective review without major spoilers, just to give some of you an idea of what this baby is all about. And judge if this book is worth a buy or not. Actually scratch that, it's a VERY subjective review. So you don't have to believe me. :D Enjoy the read and thanks for anyone willing to reach the end of this piece of writing]
I can't really say that I'm a fan of Mr. Brown's books, but I have read Angel and Demons and the Da Vinci Code with enthusiasm and enjoyed both. So you can understand my excitement when the release day for the third novel finally came. I literally crossed off the days until the book appeared and I could finally dive in a thriller full of silly conspiracy. So imagine my disappointment when I realized that the novel can be more boring than reading an encyclopedia about drying paint.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not a complete train-wreck, the usual witty puzzles are there, the usual conspiracy is there, it's not all bad. So let's dive into what should be the good stuff - the story. You know how in Angels and Demons the novel starts with a creepy death, and The Da Vinci Code began with a wonderfully gory discovery? Well, the Lost Symbol feels like the slow turtle in this race. I happily opened the book and prepared to enter that addicting realm of mystery, but was immediately hit by the wall of boredom. The novel kicks off with a yawn-tastic description of somewhere cryptic where a couple of nameless characters chatter about... something cryptic. Not even poor ol' Langdon can revive the atmosphere seeing as he is introduced riding in a slow elevator... while experiencing a flashback.
So we discover that the hero has been invited to Washington at a meeting with a very important person (deja vu anyone?), but he soon realizes that something horrible has happened when he gets an eerie phone call. While Langdon dashes here and there, mumbling something about calling the police (but never does), we are introduced to the mandatory female character who has the mandatory degree in something very smart that will rarely be helpful.
But I was hit by the large purple deja-vu paddle as soon as Langdon started spewing out things that would put an encyclopedia to shame. What? The hero is, against his own will, again sucked into a conspiracy? What? The villain is a fanatic man who talks like an evil guy out of a Batman comic? What? The female lead is related to the guy who is in the middle of everything? By this point I started rubbing my eyes and waving my threatening fist at the pages. I get that a certain book recipe has made Dan Brown famous, but seeing so many recycled parts makes you think that the future novels will rather make good firewood than book material.
But let's move on. So the villain, who had the unfortunate idea of being born with different believes than Langdon, resumes the usual role of leaving hidden messages that can be decoded by our hero (and no one else!) Thus Langdon goes on a scavenger hunt in Washington, while completely feigning disinterest in the lead female character (until the last part on the book, that is).
While I've always considered skipping pages in a book to be a horrible sin, I found myself cringing at the snooze-fest that was the first half of the book. But it's not all bad. There is a lovely gore part which drew me in, but it sadly just goes downhill from then. It takes Landgon and two other people about 30 pages to get from a simple elevator to the basement. What do they do in the mean time? They talk. A. Whole. Fraking. Lot. I realize that exchanging ideas is an intelligent and enjoyable pastime, but when the characters hurl out entire dictionaries worth of explanations it gets very exhausting to read.
And as interesting as the other books made it seem, for me it's just mind-numbingly boring to read about Langdon's arrogance. How he's always rolling his eyes at humanity, at the fact that the world doesn't know simple things, like what Arabic numbers are (really, even kids know what they are, the world doesn't have porridge for brains, Mr. Brown). It takes the author 42 chapters until the real action kicks in and Langdon can seriously start worrying about the situation he is in. So until then it's best to stack up on coffee and cigarettes because it's going to be a long night. Some reviewers say that action is fast-paced, exciting and intriguing, which makes me wonder if I'm mistakenly reading some other book entirely...