"In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante's Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science" -- vendor summary.
I don't remember The Lost Symbol -- that's how boring it was. At least the premise of Inferno was interesting -- beyond that it was kind of ridiculous and repetitious. Robert Langdon is wry, he has a Mickey Mouse watch, and he wears tweed...blah blah blah. I mean, I had to read what the "bad guy" said in his video SO many times. Oh! And in case you didn't know, Sienna Miller has a ponytail. Then the big twist...umm...the already over-the-top idea of the book moved into LUDICROUS territory. Some parts were so torturous, I stopped reading to do laundry and dust.
Dan Brown stays true to his formula. Fortunately, I enjoy this particular formula. Here, Robert Langdon awakens with a head injury in Florence, with no memory of the last couple of days or how he got here from Harvard. Almost immediately, it seems, he is being pursued by a mysterious killer, accompanied by Sienna Brooks, a beautiful doctor with secrets of her own. He learns that a powerful man who is fascinated by Dante's "The Divine Comedy" (particularly "The Inferno") has hidden a horrifying creation of his own design that will change the human race forever, and Langdon must decipher the clues hidden in Dante's writing to prevent an Earthly Inferno. The plot stretches the bounds of credulity, but not to the breaking point, and I quite enjoyed the fast pace, sudden twists and surprise revelations. And, if Brown's research is to be believed (not quite sure if I do), I came away knowing quite a bit more about Dante and the Renaissance than before.
More courage of conviction please Mr Brown. Stop playing it safe and trying to appease everyone.
Whilst I'm there, it's great naming all these fantastic and beautiful historic buildings, but sadly I haven't been there myself, nor do I know what they all look like, so as you name them all, it wouldn't hurt to actually describe to the reader what they look like. If I had really cared to get a sense of the location, I'd have needed google open and constantly searched for the images to picture what it looks like. Perhaps I should know what the "Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore" looks like, but sadly I'm not that intelligent or knowledgeable. Which probably explains why I'm reading Dan Brown novels and not Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy....
The story starts with Robert Langdon dealing with amnesia and trying to escape from someone who appears to be trying to kill him. This initial assumption will prove to be false at some point in time in the novel. This is true of most of the initial presentation of facts throughout the novel. The story revolves around a mad man who is concerned that the world's population growth is a harbinger of the collapse of human population.
Even though this is fiction, you will learn alot about Dante's Divine Comedy and his life.
First, I kept getting interrupted by other books that needed to be read first, or college classes I needed to complete. But any other Dan Brown book would not have been interrupted no matter what. So I began to wonder: Why am I not loving this book?
One reason was strictly physical: Why on earth would anyone publish such a ginormous, unreadable, heavy collection of pages between hard covers??? I'm not a big fan of e-books (I forget they are there and forget to finish them, being out of sight). But in this case I wished I'd ordered the digital version instead. Oh, how I longed for that neat little Kindle device! I lugged this massive tome around with me and many times wanted to ditch it in favor of something easier to tote, hold, and read. My hands and arms ached. In this age of the diminishing influence of bookstores, I think the publishers did the author a disservice with this choice. It was not necessary to fatten it up like that to become visible on shelves. I suppose it was designed for the massive hands and arms of massive men??? Silly conceit on the publishers' part and it was no fault of the author's, so my reluctance to pick it up is an unfair gauge of its worthiness, but nevertheless played a big part in the length of time it took me to finish this book.
Secondly, the imagery of Dante's Inferno and Botticelli's artwork was not exactly appealing to me. Since I believe that sort of "hell" is created in the minds of people who believe in it, I wasn't happy to be spending so much time contemplating it.
Next, I grew impatient with the pacing and repetition, thinking perhaps the author or his editors had drawn things out for the sake of creating that enormous physical book. Some of the actual writing seemed careless to me.
HOWEVER, the tour of Italian art and architecture was appealing, to a point. About 3/4 of the way through, I grew bored with that, as well. Once again, it was frustrating to have to lug the book into my office, fire up the computer, and Google the various artworks or locations in order to follow the author's heavy-handed insistence. It would have been easier for him to post a website and give us the images all in one place rather than construct a plot around his trip to Italy and try to build it into a novel. Or perhaps if the book was going to be so physically imposing, it might have served better as a coffee-table art book? Again, this was the first time in my life I have longed for a wirelessly-connected, hand-held device for accessing the Internet. Was he trying to create an App, but his advisers insisted he must produce another book instead?
This might also have been the first time in my life I found myself rooting for the villain from the beginning. So bottom line, I complained all through it but I'm glad I read it, and I hope the next book is better.
Langdon’s initial problem is that he has no memory when he awakens in a Florentine hospital. His eidetic recall has been impaired apparently by a head wound, and his escapade is launched by the appearance of an assassin. His evasion and gradual recollection are assisted by an ER doctor while they zip through Aegean sites, following pertinent clues, avoiding sinister pursuers, and racing the clock.
Dan Brown blends literature, literary history, and philosophy into this work. The inclusion of many verses from Dante’s poem captures the flavor of Italian Renaissance literature, and the author adds a précis of some verses while introducing the historical background, events, and personalities involved in Dante’s work. Brown renders descriptions of the classical buildings, sculptures, and other artwork with vivid aplomb.
The novelist also introduces the philosophic propositions of 18th Century British scholar Robert Malthus, who postulated that the world’s population would grow faster than the earth could provide subsistence. The Malthusian model also posited that population was controlled through famine and disease. Unfortunately, in our modern world pharmacology has eliminated many diseases, medical advances have advanced living ages, and the population has been exploding exponentially while resources are diminishing, bringing the human race to the brink of extinction. Genius geneticist Bertrand Zobrist, at odds with World Health Organization and in collusion with a secret group headed by the Provost, has devised and is about to execute a solution to overpopulation—unless Langdon can stop him.
Despite the intriguing revelations in this literary jaunt or the conflicting sociological viewpoints, Dan Brown’s formulaic plot here has become a bit threadbare. Even the romping visits through various exotic vistas are becoming tedious. The ageless Robert Langdon has become a picaresque protagonist, more a pliable foil for other characters than a self-actualized hero. Yet, a fascination to discover what evils will be released into the world will propel the reader onward.
This novel demonstrates how difficult it is to maintain a specific standard within Dan Brown’s genre. But consuming this book is not a waste of time.
Robert awakes in hospital to a splitting headache and a nightmarish vision of war and death. Worse yet, he's in Italy and he doesn't know how or when he got there! Before he can get his bearings, the chase is on. He and his surgeon are running for their lives.
Normally I cringe at amnesia plots but the Robert Langdon books are inherently silly. Here the clues are derived from Dante's Divine Comedy (and mostly the Inferno part). Dante apparently put a lot of himself and his life into his works and now a master criminal (mad man) is taking advantage of that fact.
This mad man has taken Dante's work to heart and has hidden clues to the whereabouts of a new plague within the landmarks and artworks that date back to Dante's time.
The introduction of a plague (or a formula) combined with European history and a male and female team on the run makes for an adult caper very much in tone with the original 39 Clues series. The ending, though, set in Turkey, felt like a jarring crossover with Clive Cussler's Crescent Dawn.
Powerful, engaging story that will haunt the reader and broaden viewpoints.
Angels and Demons disappointed me greatly, and Lost Symbol, though marginally better, shared many of the problems I had with Angels and Demons. Inferno fits very comfortably in the Dan Brown mold and while sharing many of the best points of his better efforts, also has its share of drawbacks.
First, the good: Dan Brown novels are outstanding opportunities to learn about art, architecture, culture and even literature. In this novel, readers can become conversant about the history of the city of Florence (one of the most magnificent cities ever inhabited), its landmarks and most famous works of art. Most particularly, the reader is immersed in the life and works of Dante Alighieri, and his seminal epic poem The Divine Comedy, which many consider to be among the greatest works of literature ever penned.
Dan Brown is a master of weaving a story, slowly releasing bits and pieces of a puzzle and ending each chapter with a cliffhanger so compelling, the reader is reluctant not to continue. Many times I’ve found myself reading into the early morning hours, unable to find a stopping point.
Now the bad: The scenarios in many of Brown’s novels become so ridiculous and ludicrous that enjoyment becomes difficult. Reading, in fact becomes a chore between eye rolls. As in Angels and Demons, where the “bad guy” is imbued with such superhuman strength and durability that he could have seemingly survived a direct hit with an atomic bomb, our hero in this novel, Robert Langdon, and his female sidekick are surrounded and hopelessly defeated countless times, only to discover “hidden passage ways” over and over and over again. I understand that the medieval city is rife with such escape hatches, but apparently Langdon is the only one that knows about them, he knows all of them, and they just so happen to appear when most desperately needed.
Message to Dan Brown: THESE ABSURD PLOT TWISTS ARE NOT NECESSARY! The underlying story is engaging and vastly entertaining. Your subject matter is incredibly rich and complex. The absurd chase scenes and miraculous get aways are detracting from the story.
But Inferno is riddled with so many holes, implausibilities and inaccuracies, more than the usual Dan Brown fare, to the point that it drives any mildly intelligent reader to distraction. One example: if a supposed art expert wakes up in a Florentine hospital with someone telling him they were muttering something that sounded like "Ve... sorry, verry sorry" and it takes them 100 more pages to figure out they were actually mumbling 'Versari', I'm 'very sorry', but you don't have a credible character. That gem came in the first 20 pages and it just gets worse from there.
After that, we're left with the same plot and devices as every other Langdon novel (baddie wit h evil intentions who still manages to leave clues so someone can stop him; awkward and unconsummated sexual tension between Langdon and a beautiful, brilliant companion with a mysterious past that figures neatly in to the plot somewhere along the line; ready, red tape-free access to transportation in Europe's busiest cities, with no possibility of traffic or delays; the lack of need for food, so as to move the "24"-like plot along ... you get the picture). Dan Brown's books are not meant to be anything other than fun vacation reads and I did make it to the end of this one (albeit skimming the last 100 pages). However, they're veering too closely to self-parody for me to really make the effort on any future endeavour.
Meanwhile, Robert Langdon wakes up in a makeshift hospital with a head wound in Italy. Apparently he's been shot in the head and mumbling something that sounds like "very sorry" over again when he was admitted. Langdon tries to recover the last two days of his life with the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks, a troubled genius in her own right.
Then, all hell breaks loose in the form of a lone soldier.
Langdon and Sienna make haste out of the hospital and momentarily get shelter however, it is short lived when a call to the U.S. Embassy results in that same soldier finding them and because of Langdon sending an email brings about a heavily black leather clad team whose loyalties are not known.
As Langdon tries to piece together his memory, he will embark on a journey through the most grand places of Italy trying to figure out exactly how Dante's Inferno fits into a bioterrorist's plans to control the world's population.
I thought Inferno was really good. It was very captivating and compelling. It was a typical Dan Brown novel. It was rich with character development and chock full of Art history and linguistics. One thing I always loved about Brown novels were the historical aspects. Thank God for my Art History class because I felt comfortable with the material.
I thought the transhumanism movement was a really interesting idea, drastic but honest. The ending I thought didn't live up to all of the drama although it was probably the most realistic.