Review: Dan Brown’s Inferno

Posted: July 4, 2013 in Review
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It’s good, but it’s not great. How sad.

Dante’s Inferno has always intrigued me on some level. It’s a very imaginative work, and one could make a case that the many layers of Hell portrayed in The Divine Comedy could be used for today’s society. That’s part of the reason why I was so excited to learn that Dan Brown had released a new Robert Langdon book based around Inferno, the first book of The Divine Comedy. The other reason was that I had loved Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol had cheered up a really uneasy sick day. I wanted to see what Robert Langdon was up to this time around!

Unfortunately, this volume makes it seem that Dan Brown is trying to hard to make a good story for Langdon to run around and save the world in. In what feels like a horrible and barely-believable cliché, Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy with amnesia and can’t remember what happened to him. Almost immediately he’s into all sorts of trouble as he learns he’s been wrapped up in a confrontation between the World Health Organization and a shadowy operation meant to protect the interests of a dead geneticist who’s concocted something very terrible for the world and is paying for his plan to be carried out from beyond the grave.

At certain points throughout the novel, there are revelations and twists that are meant to be like what happened with the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 but instead leave you thinking it out for five minutes trying to understand what happened before going back through the nearly five-hundred page book and concluding that Brown didn’t even give any hints of these twists where most authors would have done so. And finally when you get to the conclusion things seem to be wrapped up a little too neatly with another twist that makes you say, “That’s nice, but it’s almost too nice. I could almost be okay with it.”

When you’re almost okay with a villainous geneticist’s plot, you know there’s a problem.

On the bright side, the first half of the novel has all the usual thrills of a Robert Langdon novel, and you do feel like you’re learning about a variety of subjects while you’re reading. There are plenty of exotic locales described in breathtaking detail that you wish you could go to yourself to see, and the character of Sienna Brooks as Langdon’s female companion this novel seems like a real person for most of the book, a poor girl trying to deal with her own genius and the pitfalls that have occurred because of it.

(Whatever happens to the women Langdon sees in the novels? We never find out what happened to the yoga instructor/physicist, though there’s hints of an untimely death or a break-up, we’re never sure of what happens to the descendant of Jesus who started to like Langdon, and the Masonic Grandmaster’s sister wasn’t even romantic, so I’m assuming there’s no break-up?)

All in all, I’m giving Dan Brown’s Inferno a 3.4 out of 5. Hopefully he can do better with the next book should there be (and judging by how popular the Robert Langdon books are, I think there will be a sequel. Whether or not there should be one and whether or not it’s any good).

  1. karmicangel says:

    I agree on a lot of your points Rami, but I actually liked that I started to see value in the villain’s plot, I think that’s what makes the best villains so memorable. So I (mentally, I didn’t write a post about it) gave the book a 4/5.

    • Thanks for commenting, Angela. I admit there is some value to the villain’s plot. And it does make me cognizant of the fact that overpopulation is a problem. However, I thought things were tied up a bit too neatly with the way things turned out, and that’s what bugged me.

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