Reading The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

The Lost SymbolI’ve been reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

I found the book extremely exciting; it’s definitely a real page turner.

I really enjoyed all the research, too. I was very tempted several times while reading to stop for a moment and go to the computer to Google some of the things that Brown talks about in the book.

So here’s the paradox: despite this, I returned the book to the library without finishing it.

This is exactly the same thing that happened when I read Angels & Demons, the sequel to The Da Vinci Code (I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code enormously, by the way, and yes, I did finish it).

I had put down Angels & Demons with about a quarter of the book left to go. I’ve never been able to figure out why, exactly – I mean, here we were, coming up to the finale, there was a ton of excitement, which I’d enjoyed thoroughly, and suddenly, I lost interest.

As it turns out, I put down The Lost Symbol with about a quarter of the book to go, too; today, on my way to the library, I looked at it, sitting on my bedside table, and realized I probably wasn’t going to be in the mood to pick it up again, at least not in the near future. So I returned it.

This time around, I gave it a bit more thought. After all, I love a good story, with lots of excitement, a book that’s real page turner – so what happened?

Perhaps it didn’t help that I saw through all of the villain’s traps, right from the start of the book (that is, all the traps up until I stopped reading, which was just after Langdon fell into another trap despite my saying to him, “No! Don’t do that! Why aren’t you calling to check first? Oh, no, here we go again!”).

Still, despite this, as a reader I was quite willing to forgive Langdon for falling into these traps, even though they seemed so obvious to me (maybe I’m just way more paranoid or cynical than Langdon and after all, of course Langdon doesn’t know he’s a character in a thriller while I do know he is). Still, that wasn’t the reason I stopped reading.

The only thing I can think of is that there was just too much excitement for me. I already knew how the book would end – obviously, the world isn’t destroyed, and Robert Langdon lives to potentially get involved in another symbology caper – but really, I know that for most of the suspense novels I read.  But the pace was relentless, and in the end, just too fast for me. I could keep up for a while, and the subject matter and all the research definitely kept things interesting, but as we headed toward the finale, I just found all the excitement to be too much. And I lost interest as a result.

So this is a real paradox, because while I did not finish the book, I actually really enjoyed every bit of the book that I did read. And I just noticed that there’s a special illustrated edition that will be published this November, and if my library will be ordering it, well, I’d love to flip through it, so I can see pictures of the things Brown talks about in the book (because yes, I did resist the urge to Google while I was reading).

How weird is that? But it’s true. I enjoyed every bit of the book that I did read. At the same time, it’s a DNF (did not finish) for me. And yes, I would be tempted by the illustrated edition.

How’s that for a wishy washy sort-of-review?

What about you? Have you read The Lost Symbol? Did you like it? And if not, is it in your TBR list?

22 thoughts on “Reading The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

    1. Belle

      It’s good to know I’m not the only one, Jill. I actually didn’t realize I had this problem with a book being too exciting until I sat down to try and figure out why I didn’t finish this one – but it makes sense because I’m the type who will walk out of the room when a movie gets too suspenseful because I just can’t bear any more suspense!

  1. Audrey (brizmus)

    That is weird. To be enjoying a book and then decide to not finish it. I am so NOT enjoying the book I am reading right now, to the point in which I have been reading it for over two weeks because of my lack of desire to pick it up (and I can only read one book at a time, grrrr!), and yet I will STILL finish it.
    As for this book, I felt the same way about Langdon. He’s supposed to be cynical, and yet really, I just felt like he was an idiot for not figuring things out. After all, I did.
    .-= Audrey (brizmus)´s last blog ..Libra =-.

    1. Belle

      I seem to have this turning point where, if I put a book down, and I know I’m not going to rush to pick it up again, the book is probably going to be one I won’t finish. With The Lost Symbol, it was definitely weird – the first time I put the book down, I rushed back to it as soon as I could. The second time, I knew I was in no big rush to get back to it.

      I have no problems not finishing a book, unfortunately. I do it all the time! Sometimes I think I should finish, if only so I can decipher why I didn’t like it.

  2. Jemi Fraser

    I haven’t read any of those books – not my kind of thing. My daughter on the other hand devoured them. Her boyfriend enjoyed them, but they didn’t grab him like they did her and he took much longer to read them. Interesting.

    My mom has a rule – if she starts a book, she must finish it. Drives me nuts, but I find myself following it more often than not – if there’s torture or child abuse or anything really icky I do quit.
    .-= Jemi Fraser´s last blog ..If I Only Had the Nerve! =-.

    1. Belle

      I think if I had a rule like that, I wouldn’t read very much, because I’d spend all my time avoiding the book that I needed to finish! That might be why I let myself be okay with not finishing.

  3. Molly

    you know – I have not read this particular book, but this has happened to me in the past with other books and all I can say is THANK YOU — for taking the time to detail this experience and help me to realize that I am not alone in returning nearly finished books to the library!
    .-= Molly´s last blog ..Book Acquisitions (not quite Mailbox Monday) =-.

    1. Belle

      And YOU’VE made ME feel better, Molly! I was sitting here, wondering how on earth to write about this book, because how can one enjoy the experience of a book yet end up not finishing it (and being totally okay with that)? It’s good to know that others experience this, too (there is definitely a comfort in numbers!).

  4. Megan

    I don’t think I’ve ever not finished a book I was enjoying. I do know what you mean about too much suspense, though – if I’m reading a really suspenseful book, I try to read so fast, fast, fast to get to the end and see how it all works out that I feel like I’ve skimmed more than read.

    The last book I didn’t finish? Fallen, the YA novel by Lauren Kate. I read the prologue and it was very intrigueing, I couldn’t wait to get into it. But then the story started, and I got bored. I asked the person who recommended it to me whether it was worth it to stick with it, but ultimately I just couldn’t go back to it. I got another book I was more excited about.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Parenthood =-.

  5. Cat Woods

    I haven’t read this book, but wasn’t overly thrilled with the one of his that I did read. Don’t know that I’ll be spending my hard earned money on it anytime soon.
    .-= Cat Woods´s last blog ..Manuscript CPR =-.

  6. MarthaAndMe

    Well let me just say you didn’t miss much! I enjoyed the book, but the ending was a HUGE letdown. Stupid, useless, pointless waste of time. I was so angry I threw it across the room.

  7. Kathleen

    I’ve not read The DaVinci Code or this one. I suppose I have shied away from both because they are just too popular if that makes sense?

  8. Memory

    I’ve ended up abandoning books that initially thrilled me but started to bore me, but never one I was still involved with. I have been tempted to give up on particularly good books, though, just because I’m afraid that the rest of the story won’t measure up to what’s come before. (Also, I don’t want the book to be over, and if I stop reading it before the end, it never will be). I’ve never actually managed to do it, but man have I ever been tempted.

    I won a copy of THE LOST SYMBOL during BBAW last year, and I read the whole thing in a marathon session. I guessed pretty well every twist right up front, but I still had fun with it. It was fast-paced, and some of the facts were interesting.

    1. Belle

      I do wonder whether I might have finished it if I hadn’t had to put the book down to go to bed (if I’d started earlier in the day, perhaps). I found the facts very interesting, and maybe that was part of it, too – it felt like the book was headed for a part where the research no longer really played a big role. And that’s when it just got too suspenseful for me!

  9. Melissa

    You really didn’t miss much. I read (and finished) it. I enjoyed the historical aspects and the descriptions, but the enjoy was so cheesy and predictable. It was a let down. Unfortunately I have a ridiculously hard time not finishing a book, even if I don’t like it. Something in the back of my head always says, “But what if the ending is fantastic and it makes the whole book worth it. You’ll never know!” That doesn’t usually happen though.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Friday Favorites: Falling Angels =-.

  10. Beth F

    I am wishy-washy about all of Dan Brown. I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved the fun of looking at the paintings and photos of the buildings mentioned in the Da Vinci Code and the statues and so on in Angels and Demons. If only he could end a book decently. I hated the end of both of them. And the fact that they each take place in 24 hours was simply hard to take. I have The Lost Symbol and will read through it one of these days, but I know I”ll feel the same way.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Weekend Cooking: Review and Giveaway of SOS! by Aviva Goldfarb =-.

    1. Belle

      I really enjoyed reading it up to the point where I stopped reading. With my track record with his books, I can’t actually say whether I like his endings or not! I liked the Da Vinci Code a lot, but now that I think about it, it certainly wasn’t a spectacular ending the way the rest of the book might have lead one to think it would be.

  11. Trina

    I am so happy to have found this review. For some reason, it is difficult to find reviews on Dan Brown books. I’ve only read one and just barely. My reason for reading Angels & Demons was to get accustomed to using my ereader, something with which I was truly struggling. A friend suggested that I just read something quick, easy, suspenseful and that should do it.

    Oh my. I didn’t really think enough about why exactly 80% of the way through this book (the Kindle does not use page number but location and percentages), I could not believe there was still 20% to go. I was exhausted. I was tired of reading about the obvious twists and turns. I had already figured Langdon and his leading lady would get together, that Vatican CIty would somehow be saved, and that the story would end happily. I just found myself not carrying about the rest of it. At least I know now it wasn’t just me.
    .-= Trina´s last blog ..OMG- I Need More Lists- =-.

  12. Lily Bass

    I have been writing for kids for some time and find it so hard to find time to read top selling authors out there but when I do it is so disappointing when something that has been marketed as being a top selling book does not grab me and I know I have to finish is because it is by a top selling author. There is something so personal I feel about what we are looking for in a particular story or film, I think when it is not there it does not mean that the piece of work is ‘bad’ just ‘does not satisfy’.


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