Monday, September 28, 2009

On Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol"

I am reading Dan Brown's latest. I quite enjoyed the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons (though the less said of Digital Fortress, the better), so I picked this one up hoping for some hours "timepass", as we Indians say. I'm only through one-fifth of the book, but I had to share some observations with you. (I've only read a hundred-odd pages, so there won't be any major spoilers, if you're planning to read it.)

I wonder just how stupid the people in the book are. Robert Langdon (the hero, for those of you who haven't read this or the previous books) gets a voice message and a fax from someone he doesn't know saying that his very-good-friend-and-father-figure wants to speak to him at given number. He calls back and he speaks to the person who had called earlier (apparently secretary to said father-figure), who says said father-figure is too busy to speak, but wants Langdon in Washington D.C. to deliver a very important lecture the same evening. And oh, good-friend-and-father-figure also wants Langdon to bring very-important-package that he had entrusted into Langdon's safekeeping fearing it might be stolen. And our hero is so innocent and trusting of unknown people that he gets on a flight with very-important-package without bothering to insist on speaking directly to friend-and-father-figure. And he runs into the grand hall where he is to give his lecture and is shocked! to find only a few tourists there! He has been tricked! How is that possible!

The said father-figure's sister (Ms Solomon, who is called Katherine to distinguish her from the real Solomon, her brother) is worried because she hasn't heard from her brother even when he misses the weekly meeting he has never ever missed. The said very-important-and-wealthy-brother doesn't seem to have a secretary or an office she knows about, where she can enquire about his whereabouts, so she whiles away her time wondering why he hasn't answered her calls. She gets a call from a doctor she never knew he had, and goes to meet him, and is very suspicious when his home/office doesn't look like a doctor's home/office, and when she is told that her brother was undergoing therapy, which he would have told her about, because they were very close. And she is wondering whether her brother isn't calling because he hasn't figured out how to use his new iPhone, because of course he couldn't get access to any other phone even though he is such a very-rich-and-important-person. And then she receives a text message from her brother, who doesn't know how to use his iPhone, asking her to admit aforementioned suspicious-therapist to very-secret-important-place, and she is thrilled that her brother learned to use text messaging, and invites said suspicious-doctor (who, the audience know, has the phone all along! and who has very suspicious Islamic-sounding name!) forthwith.

Robert Langdon enters grand hall in the Smithsonian and sees that people are shocked and someone is screaming. He sees what looks like a mannequin hand (some call it a handequin, the author helpfully informs us) in the center of the hall. He wonders why everyone is shocked at the appearance of a fake hand. Then he notices that one finger and thumb are pointing upwards. He wonders why this fake hand looks so unusual, with wrinkles on its skin, and why there is blood on it. Then he realises! that it is a real hand!

Then our hero goes closer and sees the hand with two fingers still pointing upwards.Three chapters later, the security chief walks into the hall. He also. notices. the. hand. And if you hadn't been reading the first couple of times, you get another description.

The hand is pointing upwards. If that wasn't enough, Langdon has also been told (by the secretary-doctor-kidnapper) that he needs to follow the hand to do something-very-important. But upwards is just a tiny ledge with a railing near the ceiling of the grand hall. And inspite of a very helpful security-chief-type-person pointing out the obvious, Langdon (who has a fear of heights) refuses to admit that the search might actually be upwards. But we all know that, before the end, Our Hero has to get up on that ledge to conquer his fears and become A True Hero.

Oh well, I might as well go read more. But don't expect me to tell you if Langdon actually gets up on that ledge.

11 comments:

Sarkywoman said...

Bah.. You're too hard on them! If they weren't that stupid, there would be no story to tell! LOL. You need to leave your brain in suspended animation when you read such books.

@lankr1ta said...

Like I wrote on my blog, this is more lost than symbol!!!!

Unmana said...

Sarkywoman: Well, I prefer to read thrillers that actually thrill me.

@lankr1ta: :-)

simplypallu said...

This is ridiculous. Does Dan Brown think his audience is stupid not to notice these things? How many times will he play the hero-afraid-of-heights-conquering-his-fear card? One would assume that three books later, the hero has already conquered his fear, and might even be sky-diving (which he sorta did in Angels and Demons, no?)!

Unmana said...

simplypallu: You'd be surprised at how many times Langdon conquers his fears in this one!

simplypallu said...

The other day I was in a Crossword outlet, came across this cover, and thought of buying it for a second. I'm glad I didn't.
I'll just borrow yours for timepass sometime, if you don't mind ;-)

Unmana said...

simplypallu: To tell the truth, I didn't spend money on it either - I borrowed it from someone else. You're welcome to borrow any of my other books, though!

Anamika said...

First time commenting here. I like your blog and you write very well. Hence my confusion and compulsion to comment today...
...Please please tell me what was to like in Angels and Demons? DVC was kinda sorta path breaking in an openly-inviting-controversy manner.

p.s. I spent money on the Lost Symbol and will start soon. Wonder if Kiran Desai who I am currently reading will be slighted if she knew :)

Unmana said...

Anamika: Thanks for your first comment!

To tell the truth, I'm not sure how to answer your question. I enjoyed "Angels and Demons" because I was entertained, and I enjoyed the descriptions of Rome. I also like how this book, and the "Da Vinci Code", both played on the antagonism between religion (the Church) and science.

Anamika said...

That was a stupid question from me :) apologies.

thebutterflydiaries said...

That's the problem. Dan Brown labors and overdoes his genre!