Monday, April 5, 2010

Lost Symbol and Dan Brown

(written 2009)

I just finished reading the new book “The Lost Symbol” and watching the movie “Angels and Demons”. Major Dan Brown overload huh? Yeah.

Let’s begin with the book; it starts off slow, like any other Brown books. It then picks up speed and excitement in the mid part and suddenly you cant put the book down. Then when you get to the ending you’ll wonder why you even bothered to read at all.

So I’ll start with the things I liked first. Brown’s style of shifting from the lead to the villain then to the-one-you-think-is-the-villain then back to the lead will keep you hooked. You’ll want to read fast but slow enough to understand what was going on. He has the gift of storytelling.

For the in-between; the part I liked and hated at the same time. I knew right away who Malak’h, the villain in the story is. You get it sooner than you wish you would. It kinda takes away the suspense in the climax. I was still moved by the confrontation scene they had, especially when he asked the same question that was bugging me throughout my reading.

Now, to the parts I did not like. Where should I start? If you have read about Freemasons and watched Nicholas Cage’s “National Treasure”, Brown’s lecturing style would be a bore. Freemasonry wasn’t a topic that aroused my interest.

The other topic in the book, Noetic sciences, caught my eye. I wasn’t aware of the term and I had to google it; only to be disappointed yet again. Quackwatch considers noetic science as pseudoscience. It’s basically all about the power of the mind and meditation etc. It isn’t considered part of mainstream science. I mean if you’re gonna use science against religion or whatever, at least make the science you’re using believable in the first place. More on that later.

Dan Brown’s running theme in his Robert Langdon series is that science and religion can be compatible. In the Da Vinci Code, you get a taste of that near the end of the book. In this book, you could read right away that that is his theme. In an interview he did with James Kaplan for Parade, he mentioned he isn’t religious and that he gravitated away from religion. He then finished off with saying that the farther he goes into science, the more he sees the spiritual side of it. Say what again?? Yeah, that’s confusing even for me, kinda like the themes in his series. He keeps saying or preaching that science and religion need not fight, that the two can be compatible. Tell that to scientists.

I never liked the endings in his Robert Langdon series. He always sounds like he’s trying to reconcile with the readers that he might have offended in the process. He always ends up in an apologetic tone. It’s like saying “Sorry I bashed your religion, I can make up with this”.

Now for the movie; It’s way better than “The Da Vinci Code” - that’s for certain. With the lessons learned in the first movie, the makers of the film found a way to incorporate history and lectures effectively into the scenes. It was chaos in TDVC. Tom Hanks looked better too, which kinda helps a lot, I guess. So many years has passed since I’ve read the book but I could still see the difference. I hate it when they change a lot. But then, maybe it was for the better since the book’s ending was really bad, in a sense.

I learned in a writing workshop that however hard you try to distance yourself from the characters you create, you’ll always have “you” in there. Dan Brown’s obvious struggle with the dogma of religion and his so called “spirituality” are spilling all over his work. The more I read, the more I can hear his inner struggles with religion.

Or maybe I’ve just had too much of him today…


pabula_rasa said...


true,your observation about dan brown,he always chickens out in the end.

i did think that angels&demons was a better book.but it kinda feels that once you read one of his books,you've read them all.ibahin lang yung names and topics.pero ung takbo ng story would be the same.

i still feel that tom hanks isnt Robert langdon though.oh well.good day amy

Ams said...

kinda agree with you on that one. once you've read one, you've read it all. though storytelling-wise, the da vinci code was better than the other robert langdon series'...
and yeah, i kinda feel that way about tom hanks at first too.. but i have a soft spot for him so... hehe..
good day to you too.. or rather good-soon-to-be-morning....

pabula_rasa said...

soft spot for tom hanks ha?hehe.yes.he is too good to bash.haha.