Author: Dan Brown
Published: 14th May, 2013
What Is ‘Inferno’ About?
Keeping it spoiler free… Bertrand Zobrist, a billionaire transhumanist fearful of the way in which the human population is recklessly multiplying, has created a deadly virus which threatens to wipe out one third of the planet’s population. Before seeing out his plan, he is cornered by security forces and jumps to his death, but his plan is in motion, and the answers to stop him seemingly lies hidden within quotes from the first act of Dante’s Divine Comedy: Inferno.
Robert Langdon begins his journey in a hospital in Florence. He has amnesia, an assassin is hunting him, he’s in possession of a strange device and he’s having weird visions.
Joining him on his quest is Sienna Brooks, a haunted genius with a cryptic ‘somethings not quite right but you know the story will get to it’ past.
Along for the ride is Elizabeth Sinskey, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, and ‘The Provost’ – the head of a secret organisation that performs the instructions of its clients without question. And so a unique and yet strangely familiar adventure begins…
Why Did I Read ‘Inferno’?
Nearly twelve years ago, along with half the planet, I read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (twelve years?!). At the time, I wasn’t especially fond of reading, I found the whole experience a trudge and was often relieved to finish every book I started.
‘The Da Vinci Code’ however was different. I genuinely enjoyed reading it, and off the back of that book I went on to read ‘Jaws’, ‘The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior’, ‘Marching Powder’ and a number of other stories – but the point being: I became interested in reading thanks to Dan Brown.
Because of this, like many people I’m sure, I have this weird sense of obligation when it comes to Dan Brown novels. When I heard that Dan Brown had a new book coming out I didn’t rush to my nearest bookstore or pre-order it on Amazon… But I was always going to get round to reading it at some point.
What I Liked About ‘Inferno’
Once again it felt like the research that Dan Brown did for his novel was extensive. I’ve not had a great deal of exposure to Dante’s Divine Comedy (and have little interest in reading it), but the story did a good job of holding my attention and teaching me the odd interesting fact along the way.
Venice and Florence are both beautiful and historically intriguing locations, and the premise was far more interesting than his previous novel: ‘The Lost Symbol’.
What I Didn’t Like About ‘Inferno’
Take away the Dan Brown formula and what you have here is affectively a tour guide of Florence, Venice and Istanbul. Without any context to retain the information, two thirds of the historical facts that can be found in this novel went into my brain and evaporated almost instantly. Also, some of the exhibition felt forced. If I was racing against time to stop a deadly virus from infecting the planet, I probably wouldn’t pause outside a museum/cathedral/relic and talk about its fascinating history for half a chapter – I can appreciate Dan Brown didn’t want to waste his research, but some of that felt really unnecessary at times.
I’d like to see Dan Brown try something new. I’m not saying he should kill off Robert Langdon, but this feels like a formula now. All the focus is on the research, rather than the story. I’m torn on the ending as well, I’d be interested to know what other people thought about it.
Good Or Bad?
Was this book any good? It was OK. I found it more enjoyable than ‘The Lost Symbol’, but that probably isn’t the standard to beat.
Would I recommend it? Depends. If you enjoy Dan Brown novels it stands to reason that you’ll enjoy this one. The formula is the same: You have Robert Langdon, a global crisis, a female companion, a sinister bad guy, symbolic clues and there’s historical facts weaved throughout the storyline.
Would I read it again? No. As an author who’s reading novels to learn from other authors, I found ‘Inferno’ very safe. I’ve just started reading ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir and already I feel like I’m getting more from that. ‘The Bone Clocks’ also gave me lots of notes to work with, but ‘Inferno’ didn’t benefit me on that level. A more interesting question has to be: “Will I read the next Dan Brown novel?”
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David P. Philip