The Lost Symbol

Dear Mr. Brown:

I have to confess, I was a little bit embarrassed that I was looking forward to your book as much as I was. I refused to order it in advance, but really, I did want to read it. I was excited about it. I knew that I was going to do about the only thing I can do with your books, buy them, curl up on the couch, and read them in an entire sitting. Since I read extraordinarily quickly, this meant that I should be able to read all 509 pages in one sitting, about 4 hours. A headache meant it took only slightly longer.

I liked Da Vinci code. The theology was profoundly ahem, dubious, and the history was dead wrong, but it was a quick read, engaging, and active. I mean a race through the streets of Paris, and Leonardo? How could that be bad? I liked Angels and Demons, and found the science interesting, and I liked the inclusion of the Catholic Priest (although, I wondered what it is you have against organized religion)

So, I was prepared. I was prepared for wrongness, I was prepared for bad history and junk science. I was prepared for carved up people and weird mystical orders and strange symbols. That is, after all, your stock in trade. I knew that you were going to use some bit of scripture, wrongly, and I was going to have to explain to people that the Bible uses that verse, yes, but not the way Mr. Brown says it does.

Maybe, Mr. Brown, it escaped you – what with the quest for religious mumbo-jumbo, junk science and strange hidden orders that exist among us, maybe it escaped you what the job of a writer really is. There is a sort of contract between writers and readers, Mr. Brown. You agree to do some things, and so do I.

For my part, I agree to suspend my disbelief and any insistence on characters who act logically, not expect you to get theology correct, not expect you to get geography correct, and not think to closely about the odd coincidences and the torturous logic that gets Robert Langdon in these situations. I do this because the entire point of any book, at least on some level is to be entertained, and as near as I can figure it, the only redeeming quality of your books, is that they entertain me.

So, Mr. Brown, if I agree to do all of those things – what do you agree to do? Oh, yes. That’s right. You agree to write a new book. A new piece of fiction, where new things happen, and there is a cliff hanger that I can’t see miles away. You agree to not just change the location, but also the characters and the premise. You agree to write a novel that is, well, novel.

And this, Mr. Brown, is not a new book. No, sir, you gave it a new title, and you changed the location, and you changed the name of a few characters, but it is not a new book.

You changed the name of the characters sir, but you didn’t create new characters. There’s an elderly fatherly figure, there’s a beautiful and smart woman, there’s a police inspector (ok, it’s a woman this time) and there’s a shadowy evil man in the background, consumed with quasi religious demons, who’s really actually mentally ill. And sir, that is the exact – I mean exact – set of characters as the Da Vinci Code, and as Angels and Demons. And sir, the discovery at the end of the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol, it is the same discovery. Oh, different words, but always a play on words, always the central truth that (insert dramatic music here) everything you know is wrong.

And Sir, I’m not sure how many times you and I can go through this fiction of you pretending to write a new book, and me pretending to be surprised by a conclusion I predicted at about page 4. If you want to write about truths that turn everything on their heads, if you wanted to write about conspiracies, write about how Doubleday has published the same book, by the same author, 3 times, calling it a new book.

That Sir? That’s a conspiracy I have something invested in.

(about $20)

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15 Responses to The Lost Symbol

  1. Virginia says:

    I read The Da Vinci Code mostly because EVERYONE was reading it. I approached it with trepidation but, needing something to take my mind off the fact my son had just died, thought I'd give it a try. I hated it. By the end of the book, I felt used. Cheap, actually, to have given in to this fluff that had been twisted and turned this way and that into some form of "reality" I was supposed to believe. Fiction, yes, but too … tawdry, in the end, for me.

  2. areyoukiddingme says:

    I liked the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons was OK, the other books I couldn't even be bothered to read. Sorry to hear that The Lost Symbol is just as derivative. Sigh. Guess I won't put myself on the library's waiting list for that one. Although, due to the wonderful library being free and all, I will probably read it at some point!

  3. Debra She Who Seeks says:

    Yeah, he's crying all the way to the bank.

  4. Donna says:

    Darn – that's what I was afraid of… I hesitated to buy his new book because I was worried about it being to much like the others. In the end I'll probably read it anyway – just because I'm a complete sucker for that sort of thing but I won't spend my money on it…

  5. Kristin says:

    I think this makes me very glad I'm getting it from the library.

  6. Brown Owl says:

    okay, so… I won't be running to the bood store for that one. Thanks Mrs. Spit (do we need to prorate that $20 by the number of comments and send our share by carrier pigeon?)
    hhmmm

  7. Martha says:

    Okay, this is good convincing that I will take a pass on this.
    It's catalog season anyway, I have no attention span to waste w/this trifle. Plus, I need to plan a winter veggie garden, any suggestions?

  8. Bluebird says:

    My husband just finished this book and seemed disappointed, but never really explained why. I'm going to forward him your post – maybe it articulates what he was feeling 🙂

  9. JuliaS says:

    I liked the movie (Angels and Demons) wayyyyyyyy better than the book. I liked it better than the first one (DaVinci Code).

    I almost bought the book – but decided to wait at least until the paperback came out. I think now maybe I will just wait for the movie . . .

    I hate it when you get all excited about a book and then you are just disappointed (Scarlet did that to me and I had loved Gone With The Wind so . . .)

  10. Sarita says:

    I read "Da Vinci Code" and loved it. I then read "Angels and Demons" and was disappointed to find the same plot all over again. I can't say I'm surprised to hear he's done it again.

    Sad. He seems to be a good writer otherwise.

  11. Tanya says:

    *gasp* The police man had a SEX change!

    And you thought there was nothing new and exciting in the book.

    I remember way back when… I read my first VC Andrews book. It was awesome (I was a teenager give me a break)… and then I read the next series and it was exactly as you described, same story, different names. Can you believe they're still putting books out under her name? She died years ago people she is not coming up with any new ideas… enough already.

  12. JamieD says:

    The advertisments keep boasting about the government plots uncovered by Brown in this book and it makes me want to stop and shout, "FICTION!! It is all FICTION!!"

    I'm glad I'm not the only person that gets this.

    Like you, I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code. I took it for what it was – fiction – but it was a good read. Angels and Demons was good and strangly familiar. I had a suspicion The Lost Symbol would be yet another version of the other two.

  13. Bluebird says:

    DH's response: "Yep, that's it exactly."

    Then later. . .

    Him: "So who wrote that?"

    Me: "Mrs. Spit."

    Him: "Mrs. Spit?"

    Me: "Um hum."

    Him: "Really??"

    Me: "Yeah, you know, Mrs. Spit. She spouts off?"

    Him: "Yeah, I just thought it was from some, like, national book-reviewer-guy or something. She wrote all that?"

    Me: "Yep."

    Him: "Hum."

    🙂

  14. luna says:

    ha! I've been wondering how it is, and everyone in my family says, "eh, not as good as the others" but they keep passing it around anyway. I think this review probably sums it up best, thanks.

  15. Seraphim says:

    Mrs Spit, this is EXACTLY how I felt when I finished reading the book too. Except you put it better than me. WAY better.

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