The Lost Symbol - Yeah, I liked it. So what?
There's a lot to like. The pacing was excellent. The whole thing takes place in a span of about 24 hours. And, despite Dan Brown's propensity to get into the minutia of history and locations, it's not over the top. The story takes place in the U.S. Capitol, and sheds an entirely new light (for me, at least) on familiar and less familiar landmarks.
Character-wise, it's hard not to root for Robert Langdon, although he plays quite the skeptic at different times in the book. He's a noble guy, thoroughly human, and mostly tries to do the right thing. There's one scene featuring Langdon later in the novel (no spoilers here) that had me biting my nails and debating if I needed to flip to the back of the book, something I never ever do.
Bad guy wise, it worked for me, in a Dan Brown kind of way. You have the, as I said, well funded whack-job bad guy, and it's clear he's ruthless enough to ... nah, no spoilers. But as in his other books, there are government agents involved, and you begin to wonder who is on whose side. The bad guy's interesting backstory is revealed over time right through the big twist near the end. There are a few major supporting characters, and their sub plots are equally interesting. I cared about them, and wished all sorts of harm on Mr. Evil.
Dan Brown shifts point-of-view constantly in the book, and just about every character, no matter how major or minor, gets their say. Each point-of-view change either gets its own chapter -- there are a lot of small chapters, including a few one-pagers -- or a specific scene in a given chapter. None of this got in the way for me. Each person had something important to say to me, and provided "information" I might have not picked up from another character.
This isn't as good as The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons - it packed less of a punch for me - but it's way better than Digital Fortress and Deception Point. Of course they're making a movie out of it, but I find the books far more engaging. These books are so densely packed with interesting "stuff" that I don't think translates to a "pops-off-the-screen" film. But, I'm sure I'll go see it anyway.
Now for the official disclaimer. Nobody asked me to write this fairly lame review. I bought the book myself, but don't have the receipt. I'm not receiving any compensation or reward for doing so. Frankly, Dan Brown doesn't need my help. However, I've been tweeting every now and then while I read the book that I am in fact doing my part to help Dan Brown save the publishing industry ... again.
Now I'm off to listen to Suzanne Collins', Catching Fire on unabridged CD while driving to and from work. I also picked up a sci-fi book - The Quiet War, by Paul McAuley.