Thursday, September 17, 2009

JKR and the Lost Symbol

All the hype surrounding the release of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” makes me nostalgic for the Pottermania that would never again be.
J.K. Rowling’s first three books debuted without much fuss in India- they made it to the children’s section on select bookstores, but showed little indication of the frenzy that was soon to be. The release of the fourth book was accompanied by a lot of publicity. Within weeks of its release, pirated copies of the book were being hawked at every traffic signal – Harry Potter had arrived in India!
The release dates of Books Five and Six were tracked with much anticipation, bookstores allowed you to pre-order your copy. Many bookstores even opened early, so a reader in India could get hold of the book at exactly the same time as a reader in England.
But it was only with the Seventh and last book that the hype that surrounded a book release in England or the States came to India. Maybe it was because it was the last chance to demonstrate your alliance to Potterverse. Or maybe it was simply because even people who had never picked up a book from the Harry Potter series realized that it was not just a book but a phenomenon, and wanted to be a part of it.
It was for the first reason that I woke up earlier than I ever had so I could make my way to the store to pick up my pre-ordered copy of the book. It was the second reason that the husband gave for wanting to accompany me to the store. Somewhere along the line, my then three-year old woke up, and insisted on wearing his robe and coming along.
He was by far the youngest person in the queue outside the store, and was photographed by all the media persons covering the book release. That I refused even to surf the channels to catch a glimpse of my son says a lot for how engrossed I was in the book.

Will I do the same for Dan Brown’s latest offering?
Quite definitely not! Much as I liked both ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘Da Vinci Code’, and would not mind reading a similar book from the same stable, I can definitely wait a few weeks till the book comes out in paperback.
With every book of JKR’s there was anticipation. What happens next? How much of the foreshadowing fructifies in this book? Does the plot go closer to where you predict it will do, or will you have to weave an entirely new set of theories? Will any of your predictions come true, or be proved baseless?
Not so with Dan Brown. You know what ‘the Lost Symbol’ will be like even before reading the book. The physically gruesome murder with a set of clues that drags Robert Langdon to the scene. The beautiful and professionally successful female relative who works closely with Robert Langdon. The expert/ insider they approach for help, but who turns out to be the instigator of all the madness. If the book doesn’t have all these elements, I would be very surprised.
Just as I would be most disappointed if the book doesn’t also have a lot of research in a particularly arcane area.
Yes, I do want to read the book, because I would love to know more about the Masons, and Dan Brown is infinitely more interesting to read than google, but I don’t want to read it so badly, that I preorder.
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Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I wasn't interested in reading "Angels and Demons". I read "Da Vinci Code"...felt I needed to, and I did enjoy it. I do plan on reading this new book. The Masons are very interesting to me and have a clubhouse about 2 miles from my house. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

ladyfi said...

Although Dan Brown is good entertainment, I really don't see why his next book is being so hyped up. As you say, it will no doubt contain all the elements of the Da Vinci Code.

The Harry Potter books are so well-written, exciting and unpredictable.. nearly impossible to guess what was coming next!

Watery Tart said...

I liked Di Vinci Code, too, but have not yet gotten to even Angels and Demons... I'd like to, but it can wait.

Harry Potter though... that was a MOVEMENT, wasn't it? A world wide thing to be caught up in. I think to get that kind of momentum you need a series, but the series needs a bunch of elements to ALL fall together. Jo created a world we could all pretend to be a part of, a vocabulary, she had endearing but imperfect characters--enough of them that EVERYBODY could identify with a few, and most importantly, she wrote with mastery--the research on mythology and magic, the tiny clues allowing the reader to feel proud of each one they personally noticed without being told, the incredibly tightly woven tale... exactly 7 books, exactly as planned.

other series are either too watered down in the world they create, so it doesn't seem 'fantastic' or it is too ellusive to even pretend... or worse... the writing just can't hold up to scrutiny...

All Hail Jo! Jo is Queen!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elizabeth - personally, I enjoyed Angels and Demons more than I did Da vinci Code, but that may well be because of the CERN connection- I am a Physics major, after all :-)

@ Fiona - exactly. Dan Brown is predictable, Jo rocks.

@ Tami - if you've read Da vinci Code, you've read Angels and Demons, minus the Physics and the Art. It can definitely wait.
And all hail Queen Jo. Even if the seventh book did not quite live up to my sky-high expectations (but nothing could have done).

GutsyWriter said...

Will you hate me if I say I never enjoyed JKR? It is just not my style and I am so damn down-to-earth that fantasy is not my thing. Sorry, but I do love the fact that we all love diversity.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Sonia - Isn't the fact that we are all so different that makes us interesting to each other?
I'm not a big fan of fantasy myself, but I don't consider JKR fantasy at all.


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