"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.
Original publication date
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
I have to say that I
I wouldn't recommend it.
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....
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.
Robert awakes in hospital to a splitting headache and a nightmarish vision of war and
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.
Don't get me wrong - I have been a big fan of Dan Brown and really enjoyed his previous work but this novel was a far cry from his previous work. With regards to the monotonous drifts into travelogues and tedious descriptions/opinions of art related to the story, I understand the need to set the scene but in this case it went too far - way too far and drowned out the story. Not sure if there just wasn't enough story there and these too-frequent, too-boring discourses were just there to fill space.
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.
Inferno revolves around the issue of world overpopulation and what to do about it as well as what some people are willing to do. Set mostly in Italy, Brown gives the reader a peek into the various museums and towns that the Masters worked and lived in while creating some of the greatest paintings and literature of all time. Dante, of course, takes center stage in this book as his book The Divine Comedy, specifically the part on The Inferno. I'm not a huge fan of Dante's Divine Comedy but this is the 2nd book in the last couple of years I've read on the topic. Craig Johnson used the work as the theme for his book "Hell is Empty" and now Brown.
It took me a while to get through this one. Not because it was bad but because life kept interrupting me! I'll keep reading Brown until he disappoints me, but it hasn't happened yet.
Eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is back, awaking in a hospital bed with no idea of where he is or how he got there. Diagnosed with retrograde amnesia, a threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a frantic chase across Florence, Italy and
Sound familiar? Well, if it does, then chances are pretty good that you've read at least one of the previous three Dan Brown novels to feature Robert Langdon. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars was the overall feeling that I've already been down down this path more than once. If this was the first time reading a Robert Langdon novel, I could easily see myself being more generous. BTW, if you've never read any of the books in the series, it's not necessary to read the other books first. Inferno, works very well as a stand alone work.
Within minutes of opening the book I was once again drawn into Robert Langdon's world. And by the end of chapter two, it was on. Danger. Intrigue. Mystery. And we're off on an insanely fast adventure to solve the clues and potentially save the world.
With only a few lines from Dante's dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artifacts of the Renaissance to find the answers to the puzzle they need to solve. Due to his retrograde amnesia, Langdom recalls nothing of the last few days which leads to a particularly embarrassing moment when he finds that Dante's death mask is missing from its exhibit. From the book..."Langdon watched himself on the video as his gloved hand reached out and found the edge of the cabinet door...and then, ever so gently, pulled back until the antique hinge shifted and the door swung slowly open...exposing the Dante death mask. Langdon watched himself in utter disbelief as he reached into the case, gently gripped the Dante's death mask with both hands and lifted it out."
As I noted at the start of this review, the Robert Langdon stories have become formulaic and somewhat predictable, but let me also say, "Inferno is an incredibly wild ride." In addition, reading Inferno is a bit like reading a travelogue without the pictures. Brown goes into great detail on the architecture, the art and the history of the places he visits. If you had a mind to, you could Google these places and artifacts as you read and get a more complete picture of his journeys.
Here's one for you if you've already read Inferno. What would be your transhumanist code name. Mine is FR-2052.
If you're looking for a fun Summer read with lots of twists and very big one at the end, then I'd like to recommend Dan Brown's Inferno. It's like a full season of 24, frightening on multiple levels. Frightening in that it could happen and also frightening in that if something like this doesn't happen we could all be doomed anyway.
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...
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.
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.