One-Minute Book Reviews

September 24, 2009

Dan Brown’s 5 Worst Lines From ‘The Lost Symbol’

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:56 am
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The critic stood with her arms folded, her eyes locked skeptically on the librarian at the checkout desk as she processed what he had just told her. “Somebody called and said he didn’t want the copy of The Lost Symbol that he had reserved? So I moved mysteriously to the top of the waiting list … as if by an unseen power?”

The librarian shrugged weakly as he handed her a copy of the novel that had sold two million copies in a week. The critic realized that others would have to wait a day or two for her review of a 508-page book to have its measurable effect on the physical world.

Still, her eye fell on a few lines that struck her as suspicious. With force that startled even herself, she couldn’t help but play a very dangerous game and formulate her responses:

1. Chapter 16, page 84: “The OS director’s voice was unmistakable – like gravel grating on a chalkboard.”

How did the gravel get on the chalkboard? Did somebody throw the gravel at it?  Or pave it?

2. Chapter 16, page 65: “He looked more like someone Anderson would expect to find hearthside in some Ivy League library reading Dostoyevsky.”

Hey, kids! Be sure to ask to see the fireplaces in the Harvard and Yale libraries on those campus tours! Soot is great for all those rare books.

3. Chapter 89, page 332: “It was no coincidence that Christians were taught that Jesus was crucified at age thirty-three …”

Just as it’s no coincidence that people were taught that Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors.

4. Chapter 96, page 357: The only wrinkle was the bloody black-clad heap in the foyer with a screwdriver protruding from his neck.”

Yes, a screwdriver sticking out of your neck is always something of a wrinkle.

5. Chapter 28, page 119: “Thankfully, this particular crypt contained no bodies. …The entourage hurried through, without even a glance at the four-pointed marble compass in the center of the floor where the Eternal Flame had once burned.”

As opposed to one of those three-pointed compass you see in some crypts.

(c) 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

September 22, 2009

Dan Brown’s Worst Lines — 20 Bad Sentences From ‘The Lost Symbol,’ ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels and Demons’

Do critics unfairly malign Dan Brown’s writing? You’ll be able to judge for yourself when I list the best and worst lines from The Lost Symbol in my forthcoming review, which will appear after my name makes it to the top the reserve list at the library. In the meantime Tom Chivers selected the 20 worst lines from Dan Brown’s novels for a story for the Telegraph in England.

Yes, Chivers found a qualifying sentence from The Lost Symbol. But his two best choices appear below. The lines from Brown’s books are italicized and Chivers’s comments follow in a Roman font.

Angels and Demons, chapter 100: Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers glorified the four major rivers of the Old World – The Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio Plata.

“The Rio de la Plata. Between Argentina and Uruguay. One of the major rivers of the Old World. Apparently.

“The Da Vinci Code, chapter 5: Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop’s ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.

“A keen eye indeed.”

Will lines like these qualify Brown for one of the 2010 Delete Key Awards for bad writing in books, given annually to authors who don’t use their delete keys enough? Find out in late Feburary when the shortlist will appear and on March 15, 2010, when this site will announce the winners.

August 16, 2009

7 Questions and Answers About Dan Brown’s New Book, ‘The Lost Symbol,’ His First Novel Since ‘The Da Vinci Code’

Filed under: News,Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:17 pm
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Is it a conspiracy? Dan Brown has said little about the plot of The Lost Symbol, his first novel since The Da Vinci Code, which Doubleday will publish on Sept. 15. And while his publisher has been releasing cryptic teasers on Facebook and Twitter, these may read to the uninitiated like excerpts from a North Korean auto repair manual.

Here are some answers you don’t have to decode:

1. What is The Lost Symbol about?
The Lost Symbol brings back the fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, the protagonist of The Da Vinci Code, a thriller based on the premise that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child whose descendants became kings and queens of France. Langdon again tangles with codes and secret societies – this time, in a plot that unfolds over a 12-hour period. He first appeared in Brown’s Angels & Demons.

The cover of the U.K. edition of "The Lost Symbol."

The cover of the British edition of The Lost Symbol shows, as the Belfast Telegraph described it, “a key surrounded by flames and bearing a Freemasonry symbol above Capitol Hill, suggesting the action will unfold in America’s seat of power.” The slightly different American cover – which also shows the Capitol Building – supports this idea.

2. What is the “lost symbol” in the title of Brown’s book?
The BBC News reported that the novel is “believed to focus on freemasonry, with the lost symbol of the title a reference to a ciphered pictogram in an ancient book called The Key of Solomon.”

3. What about Leonardo da Vinci? Will he have a role in The Lost Symbol?
Da Vinci or his legacy will have a substantial role unless Brown’s publisher has misled libraries. The electronic catalog at a consortium of New Jersey libraries says The Lost Symbol involves the following: “Leonardo, da Vinci, 1452–1519 – Manuscripts – Fiction – Cryptographers – Fiction. Mystery fiction.”

4. What else is known about Brown’s new book?
Other facts appear in the “codes, cryptic trivia, puzzles, secret history, maps” and more that Doubleday has been releasing on Brown’s Facebook page and the Twitter feed for The Lost Symbol. The publisher said on Twitter that “Robert Langdon’s next adversary will be revealed when http://www.facebook.com/DanBrown reaches 100,000 fans.” Brown had 67,686 fans on the afternoon of August 16.

5. What do you learn about The Lost Symbol on Facebook and Twitter?
Facebook member Mark Gray suggested that The Lost Symbol may involve explosive sexual tension and, to support this idea, posted a diagram of two Washington landmarks. “When the energetically (male) Washington Monument is positioned in front of the energetically (female) Capitol Dome an explosion of force is created,” he writes. He added, “An OBELISK is a male PHALLIC. A DOME is a female WOMB.”

A Facebook member named Buddy didn’t think much of the idea. Buddy told Mark: “You keep focusing on the phallus and vulva, but what do you think it means? Surely, this is not an answer. Why would you think those focused on spiritual symbolism and related philosophy would obsess about male and female organs? The effort is to affect the minds of many not magically conjure up some energy effect. What would be the purpose?”

On Twitter, The Lost Symbol has fewer followers (3,210) than Shaquille O’Neal (1,964,646) and Bon Jovi (22,685) but more than Molly Ringwald (93).

6. When can you buy The Lost Symbol?
Doubleday will publish print and electronic editions of the book on Sept. 15, 2009, in the U.S. and Great Britain. You can preorder from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or an independent bookseller that you find through the Indie Store Finder on IndieBound.

7. Are you going to review The Lost Symbol on One-Minute Book Reviews?
I couldn’t finish The Da Vinci Code, so I’m not going to buy The Lost Symbol. And I don’t accept review copies from publishers. But I give out the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books every year on March 15 and wouldn’t want to overlook a stellar candidate. So I’ve put my name on the waiting list for The Lost Symbol at my library. We’ll see if I get it before Malia Obama goes to college.

Janice Harayda is a novelist and former book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

July 30, 2009

‘Princeton Wouldn’t Engage in Corporate Espionage’ — James Rollins’s New Sigma Force Thriller, ‘The Doomsday Key’

Dan Brown’s new novel, The Lost Symbol, will be published on Sept. 15, 2009, but I’m not poring over the clues its publicists are scattering on the Twitter feed for the novel: I couldn’t finish The Da Vinci Code. So I’ve been looking into other thrillers about fraternal or ecclesiastical conspiracies, trying to answer the question, “Are any of these readable?” I found James Rollins’s new Sigma Force novel, The Doomsday Key (Morrow, 431 pp., $27), on a library display of New York Times bestsellers, and the dust-jacket copy said:

“At Princeton University, a famed geneticist dies inside a biohazard lab. In Rome, a Vatican archaeologist is found dead in St. Peter’s Basilica. In Africa, a U.S. Senator’s son is slain outside a Red Cross camp. The three murders on three continents bear a horrifying connection: all the victims are marked by a Druidic pagan cross burned into their flesh.

“The bizarre murders thrust Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force into a race against time to solve a riddle going back centuries, to a ghastly crime against humanity hidden within a cryptic medieval codex …”

This was not a promising beginning, so I’m sure whether I’ll read more of The Doomsday Key than I did of The Da Vinci Code. But here are a few quotes from the book that might help you decide whether it’s for you:

1. “Her methods were brutal – like murdering the Venetian curator – but who was he to judge? He had not walked in her shoes.”

2. “ ‘Great. So now we’re breaking into a prison and a tomb.’ Kowalski sank down and crossed his arms. ‘Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.’”

3. “’Princeton wouldn’t engage in corporate espionage.’”

4. “Gray weighed that information. The Knights Templar were considered to be the keepers of many secrets. Could this be one of them?”

5. “‘The priest should have been more careful to whom he made his confession.’”

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

February 29, 2008

2008 Delete Key Awards Finalist #3 – D. L. Wilson’s ‘Unholy Grail’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:42 pm
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Delete Key Awards Finalist #3 – From D. L. Wilson’s Unholy Grail:

“’Believe me, I doubt if the Church has a secret agency that would go around killing people.’”

“’Here’s the kicker, Charlie.’ Carlota sank into her chair and let out a sigh. ‘Professor Hamar’s husband felt so much guilt over contributing to the disease that killed their son that he committed suicide.’ Charlie smacked his hands to his head so hard he knocked his cap off.”

“A uniformed task force had been sent to the Hotel Royal and, thank God, there was no dead priest in any of the rooms.”

Is it just a coincidence that The Da Vinci Code has inspired so many knock-offs? Or could it result from a conspiracy surpressed for thousands of years?

A hat tip to Bill Peschel at Reader’s Almanac www.planetpeschel.com, which has an extensive archive of reviews of mysteries and thrillers, for this one.

The 10 Delete Key Awards finalists are numbered but announced in random order. 

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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