Thursday, May 23, 2013
The title: Inferno
The author: Dan Brown
Publication: Doubleday, 2013
Got it from: The library
Say what you want about Dan Brown - go ahead, everyone else is - but he knows how to write a page-turning story. He's the only "bestselling" author that I automatically request at the library, but it helps that he only writes a new one every three or four years. What makes his books stand apart from the usual intrigue novel is tons of history. Again, criticize his research if you must, but keep in mind that sometimes facts have to play second fiddle to a good yarn.
In this fourth novel in the series, hero and Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon wakes up with amnesia in a hospital in Florence, only to find himself being pursued by mysterious baddies. Faster than you can say plot device, he's on the run with beautiful young doctor Sienna Brooks. The twist in this one is that he's already solved many of the mysteries that we encounter as the book progresses, only now he has to re-solve them. Most of the riddles revolve around Dante Aligheri's epic poem Inferno. The villain in this piece is obsessed with Dante's work and (slight spoiler) uses its imagery in a plan to control global population.
The problem with Inferno (Brown's book, not Dante's) is that it's not as fun as The Da Vinci Code, as interesting as Angels and Demons, or as thrillingly menacing as The Lost Symbol. Sure there's lots of twists and turns, but I kind of already figured them out ahead of time, so there wasn't the sense of urgency. Nor did the "bad guys" seem so bad. I actually couldn't help but agree with some of their views on the problems of overpopulation. There's also a lot of what felt like a history lecture from Dan Brown. Normally I love reading about history, especially when it involves interesting asides and connections between famous people and places, but in many cases it just felt like info dumping. It slowed down the pace of the story and dragged it out for too long. My overall impression was that it was a fun but ridiculous story.
Bottom line: If you love Dan Brown, you'll get more of what you love. If you loathe Dan Brown, you'll get more of what you loathe.