Review of Inferno by Dan Brown
Some things in this review may be considered spoilers..
Over the rainy weekend, instead of going out, I stayed in and read through Dan Brown’s Inferno in about 2 and a half days. It was a fast-paced, entertaining read and I enjoyed the story much more than the story of his last novel, The Lost Symbol. The plot left me with some questions at the end, but the action was engrossing and entertaining.
Once again, there were a lot of descriptions of artworks, famous historical locales in Venice, Italy and Istanbul, and many chase scenes moving the story forward. The artistic and historical references may not be interesting to all, but I found them to be fascinating because I very much enjoy art history and literature.
The story is essentially a mystery that pulls you in immediately. Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks (a doctor) are in a race to find a dangerous chemical weapon hidden by an evil scientist who is obsessed with the dangers of overpopulation on earth.
People have hidden agendas, as in previous Dan Brown novels, and not everyone is who they claim to be. Along the way, they encounter the head of the WHO (World Health Organization) and a man name the provost, the head of a secret organization helping the villain in his efforts.
The premise is an intriguing one, and can be a bit scary when the world of the future is compared to hell as depicted in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy, in which Dante describes all the levels of hell (as he imagines it) as he descends to the lowest level. He eventually writes about getting to purgatory and then heaven. But hell is the novel’s central theme.
The short chapters make you want to keep reading to get answers and see it all unfold. Some things seemed a bit contrived, like a chase scene through a museum where Robert Langdon just happens to know secret passageways not known to the general public. He had learned about these secret doors/hidden rooms during a ‘secret passageway’ tour he took at another point in time, which I found awfully convenient for his escape from authorities chasing after him.
The thrill of this book is that it’s constantly raising questions. Brown gives you just a hint of information (a small clue to the big mystery) that makes you want to keep reading to see what happens. This method is very effective and show a lot of skill. The novel is very finely tuned. But will leave you with some questions of your own.
For example, why did Dr. Sienna Brooks need to be described as beautiful and attractive, if the only part of her personality that would come into play was her intellect? This is not a romance novel where we need to root for a beautiful heroine and happily ever after.
And this question was really bugging me: why did the evil scientist mastermind (threatening to unleash a plague on the world) wear a plague mask in his ominous video? (When you get to the end and realize what his virus actually does, you will understand this question). Maybe it was just to seem more menacing?
It was not to hide his identity since he removes it at the end of the video. It didn’t make any sense. Maybe I need to reread some parts to see if I missed anything. I could not put the book down and maybe when I was sleepily reading at 2:30am, some of these things were made more clear in the text.
It’s very easy to imagine this story playing out on the screen as a major film. And I would want to see it in live action like The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, if only to see if the way I imagined it is the way the author intended. And the scenery/art/locations described in the book are just begging for a theatrical depiction.
Dan Brown supposedly said there were talks to make this book into a movie, and hopefully the treatment of it is better than Angels and Demons, where the movie left out the central point to all the action.
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