"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....
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.
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.
Powerful, engaging story that will haunt the reader and broaden viewpoints.
On an aside, I found the concept that the world's population might extinguish itself by shear population explosion to be very disturbing. It has stuck in my mind since, particularly as I have driven past fields of crops on my way to work...
There was a point however about three quarters of the way thru the book where it did seem like things were revolving in circles. But it was not enough to stop the edge of your seat feel to the story.
Perhaps Dan Brown could try writing for Lonely Planet; at least half the book was taken up with describing the scenery.
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.
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.