The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Fact: I was given this book as a present.

Fact: I don’t know what they were thinking.

Fact: The book is too big to fit into my handbag.

She began reading the first chapter, her eyes skimming over the name Robert Langdon. Great, now I’m always going to think of Tom Hanks whenever this name comes up.

She sighed, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before a mind-bending plot would reveal itself in the form of clichés, italicised thought processes, short chapters and blatant hooks.

It won’t take long to finish this.

On the first evening, huge chunks of plot fell off the page, which she saw coming even before she had finished reading each chapter; the tattooed stranger, the Masons, the weird science lab. Is this guy for real? Oh good, Justified is on tele now...

On the second evening, as the tattooed stranger went berserk, and Robert Langdon was conveniently beset by claustrophobia that set in motion a fairly predictable plot twist, something was beginning to form in her mind. It’s like the book is trying to tell me something. As she cleaned her fishtank, searching for The Truth, she spotted a cipher hidden under the pebbles:

What could this mean?

As she read on, Tom Hanks’ face spiralled into view and the truth of what she was holding in her hands became clear: A Ron Howard film wasn’t far off.

In another blinding flash, she saw the future. There was a not-so-secret, unremitting formula binding the 500 pages, and this formula would continue to be exploited as long as there were enough trees on the planet to print the books. On and on she ploughed, through wave upon wave of set phrases and bad story-telling. How many trees were felled for this?

As she embarked on the final chapter, she realised that she would never get those hours back.

I have been duped.