Adventure, Reviews, Thriller

Review: The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3)The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I call this third novel in the Robert Langdon series Langdon at his most obtuse yet. There is very little actual symbol/code deciphering in the 600+ pages of this book and most of what is deciphered is either done by others or all but spelled out for Langdon. I felt like he wasn’t true to the characterization from the previous books except in that Brown leaned too heavily on Langdon’s claustrophobia and acrophobia. For one, you’d think that the man who had discovered the secret of the grail would be more open-minded but through the book, right up to the end, he doubts everything he’s told about the pyramid and the legend. There’s skeptical and then there’s just ornery.
On top of my annoyance with Langdon, which is not unique to this book, this installment is boring. Rather than being a non-stop race from clue to clue, there is a lot of scientific explication, rambling passages about enlightenment, descriptions of various locations around Washington, D.C., and far too much of Mal’akh. Brown’s previous villains have been intelligent though misguided or improperly motivated but Mal’akh’s motivations are purely selfish and literally evil.
With the two prior novels, I’ve complained that I was able to solve the clues faster than the so-called expert. I can’t say that that happened in The Lost Symbol it is because the solution is more symbolic than anything, lost in a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, and revealed well after the climactic scene when I was beyond ready for the story to end. However, I did quickly figure out Mal’akh’s big secret and I guess where the clues would ultimately lead, though, for the sake of the story, it was pretty meaningless by the time they arrived there. Everyone involved should’ve been in the hospital instead of continuing their grand tour of Masonic D.C. I’ve had issues with each of Brown’s novels that I’ve read but I expect certain things that keep me coming back to the series but this one failed even in delivering that fast-paced thrill and symbolic mystery.  For a while, I thought that if this one had followed the superior The DaVinci Code I would’ve enjoyed it more but…nah.

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Adventure, Reviews, Thriller

Review: The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2)

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2)The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a lot of issues with Angels & Demons, the first of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books. The only one of those solved in this famous second novel was the length and at 300 fewer pages than the first book, it still feels overly long.  There was a lot more downtime during which Robert and the other characters tried to figure out Sauniere’s cryptic messages with a bit fewer moments of real peril. Once again I found myself figuring out the mysteries long before Langdon. The hint of romance between Robert and Sophie is tacked on and unnecessary.
Despite my complaints, I must admit that The Da Vinci Code was all it was meant to be before all of the controversies – an entertaining work of fiction, albeit one with fascinating ideas. The way Brown ends many of the chapters brings to mind old soap operas – “next time on The Da Vinci Code…will Robert and Sophie escape.” That’s an exaggeration but you get the picture.
Like its predecessor, amidst all the excitement, there were moments of profound truth. Also, like in the first novel, these truths were usually spoken by the ‘bad guys’. At first, I wondered what that said about me, then I realized that perhaps Brown meant to show that reason can be found on all sides; it is what people choose to do with their ideas that makes the difference. How they interpret the truths – not unlike with the scriptures that figure so prominently in Brown’s stories.

I actually read The Da Vinci Code a couple of years ago but somehow my review got lost. I only discovered this when writing up my review of the next Robert Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol, which I will be posting tomorrow.

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Children's Literature, Reviews

Review: The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the SwanThe Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read The Trumpet of the Swan many years ago as a child but I didn’t recall much of it. Reading it again I realized somethings about literature and growing up.  It’s funny, for adults there are basically two kinds of fiction – realism or fantasy. While there is some blending of the two, the actions of the story follow certain rules be they rules of nature in our world or the rules created by the author that dictate life in the world of the story. In children’s literature, however, like in a Disney movie, rules are often thrown out of the window for the sake of the story. I had forgotten about that. And, apparently, I’d forgotten how to suspend my disbelief as fully as I did when I was a child. In this classic from E.B. White, people often react as you would expect them to when faced with a trumpet playing swan who can read and write English and at other times, they react differently than you would expect; animals (well, the swans anyway) often understand things about the world of men that they wouldn’t while at other times they are clueless. As a boring old adult, this took some time for me to get used to. That being said, this is a fun, sweet, and truly funny story. And the illustrations in this new digital edition by Fred Marcellino are beautiful yet sometimes humorous.  The cob’s speeches and his mate’s responses to them were the highlights of the book about man working with nature, honor, and overcoming the obstacles we’re giving in life.

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