...will probably not be arriving on Thriller Guy's desk anytime before the official publishing date. That's because there's an embargo on the book, which means it won't be released anywhere before it goes on sale in bookstores. The embargo process is usually reserved for books by ex-politicos who have penned controversial accounts of events that when once become known will threaten the existence of life as we know it on planet Earth. Or at least that's what the publishers want us to think. That their author's amazing revelations will cause the structural underpinnings of democracy to fracture, the nation will fall into a swoon, the stock market will crash, North Korea will sense an advantage and launch a nuclear attack and the next thing you know we're all reduced to hiking up Cormac McCarthy's Road with our meager possessions lashed to our backs. Tumbleweeds will be seen on the streets of our major cities. And yet, someone always finds an early copy of these books and publishes the juicy details and we've survived all these revelations. Of course Dick Cheney's book hasn't been published yet.
Seriously, what's going to happen if someone reviews Dan Brown's book a few days, or even a few months before the publication date?
You can probably sense that TG is annoyed. And as I've said before on these pages, an annoyed reviewer is not in the best interest of a new book. Instead of having, say, a week to linger over the pages of this sure-to-be blockbuster, TG is going to have to stand in line (sleep all night in a rickety lawn chair in front of the bookstore?) snap up a copy, rush home and read it in one great gulp so he can get the word out to a breathlessly awaiting public before they all head to the bookstore for their very own copy, which they are going to do no matter what TG, or any other reviewer has to say. Again, you have to ask yourself, what is the publisher so afraid of anyway?
They're still going to make a gazillion dollars, so that can't be it. The book will still be extensively reviewed, so they're not cutting into the actually number of reviews. Are they really so worried that the reviews are going to be negative? My guess is that's probably the reason. No one likes a bad review. Even a lukewarm review can sting. As the recipient of a few of both of these, TG can attest that no matter how many glowing notices one receives, a bad one will ruin your day, if not the entire week. Actually, it can rankle for months. Years even. So are they anticipating bad reviews? And if so, why?
Human nature is my guess. It's going to be a lot easier to hate this book, critically, than it's going to be to love it. Code was, what? the best selling book of all time except the bible? If not that, it's certainly right up there. That's a pretty hard act to follow, even by Dan Brown. Code was surely not the best book that's ever been written, or the best story that's ever been told, it just sold more copies than pretty much any other book that's ever been written. But what has that got to do with the new book? So, to be fair, The Lost Symbol should be judged as just what it is probably going to be: a modern thriller in the style of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. I'll bet it's going to be at least pretty good; his other books were all pretty good. And I liked Code a lot. But people, and by people I mean readers in general, are going to expect it to be great. I hope it is great. Every book I pick up to review I hope is going to be great. Few are. But many of them are good, and many more are very good. Really, what more should we expect from a book?
Fellow reviewers: take a deep breath, empty your minds of preconceived notions, purge your soul of any jealousy, (especially those of you who are also novel writers) and give Dan Brown the same consideration you normally give to any other writer who toils in the literary vineyard. Sure, he's a lucky bastard who's made a lot f money, and who's about to make a lot more money, who probably lives like a God while you work in obscurity down in some dank basement, unloved, unappreciated, struggling to make ends meet, and you know you're at least as good as he is! Why? Why him? Why not me...!
Easy Thriller Guy, just read the book.
After you stand in line to buy it.
OK, but I'm still going to be annoyed.