If you have any preconceived thoughts on The Lost Symbol, they are probably correct. If you´ve read Dan Brown´s previous efforts (specifically The Da Vinci Code and Angles and Demons) you´ll probably feel exactly the same about The Lost Symbol. I happened to like both of those (and Brown´s others), finding them quick, light and intriguing enough to keep me interested until the end.
What I like most about TDVC and A&D were the locales. Set mainly in Paris and Rome respectively, the mad dashes through the city streets and the in-depth descriptions of art and architecture made the cities practically the most important “characters” for me. The Lost Symbol doesn´t disappoint on this front – except the city taking center stage is the more “modern” Washington DC. As always, feelings of wanderlust began to develop as Brown described the hallowed shelves of the Library of Congress; the soaring Rotunda in the Capitol building and the Washington Monument.
The story begins with Robert Langdon being urgently flown to Washington DC at the request of an old friend to give a speech. Big surprise, he´s been lured to the Capitol building under false pretenses and soon realizes his friend is in danger. Hooking up with said friend´s sister, the book becomes a race against time through the city to find his friend and “save the world” or so the CIA would have him believe. Creepy villain, lots of archaic knowledge – all of Brown´s stereotypical plots are there.
Two drawbacks. First, Langdon was a bit whiny here. In the beginning, when it became apparent it was his friend´s kidnapper who got him to Washington DC and wanted something specifically from him, he kept asking, “Why me?” “How should I know what this guy wants?” Come on. Everyone in the world knows about you, the codes you crack, etc – is it that hard to believe some crackpot´s going to want to use you? And the end. Brown or Langdon gets all emotionally weirded out and the last couple chapters are a total waste.
Do I recommend it? Yes, if you like Brown´s stuff. If you´ve never read him though, I´d suggest one of the others for your first foray into Langdon´s symbolic world.
No matter how panned the movie was (and why on earth would you see a movie when there is a book already written?!?) read Eat, Pray, Love. This is probably a chick review – unless you guys are looking for a special insight into a woman breaking down and finding her way to recovery, I´m not sure there´s a lot to interest you.
Perhaps I´m being shallow. Anyone grappling with their current station in life, whether it´s personal or occupational, can probably relate to the author´s stories. The path she is able to forge to renewal is one that most people will never be able to experience. But enjoy the ride anyway.
Eat, Pray, Love isn´t a new book and it´s been so talked about the past few years that most people probably already have an idea of what it is about. The author (who received a publishing contract prior to beginning her voyage in order to write this book) takes three journeys to very different places in order to “find herself” after a divorce, a series of bad relationships and depression. First she heads off to Italy, officially to study Italian, unofficially to eat. Then she moves along to India and stays at an ashram in order to raise her yoga and mediation practice to the next level. The final journey, to Indonesia, was a combination of the two, pleasure and devotion – and there she ends up finding love, even though she admits her goals have been accomplished after India.
I´m very much Gilbert´s target demographic for this book. I also completely related to two sections of the book: Eat (I´m an American, living in the Czech Republic, passionately involved with Spanish, for absolutely no useful reason) and Pray (I do yoga regularly and refuse to mediate.) While the first 2/3 of the book had me saying, “yep,” “completely,” “you go sister” the final section lost me. I´m not sure if it was because her journey was winding down, or if her purpose for being in Indonesia wasn´t as pronounced, but I just totally stopped relating.
The balance also seemed a bit off – as if Gilbert was unable to decide what type of book to write. A memoir? Travel story? Advice? Therapeutic? She touches on a lot of her problems, dealing with depression, loneliness – but it never seems to be fulfilled. Gilbert instead seems to go for the light-hearted fun side, which makes for great reading, but also has you wondering about some gaps.
In the end though, if you haven´t already read it, I recommend it. One can nitpick all they like, but the book is an overall fun and engaging read.