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'Inferno' Review: "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here"
Professor Robert Langdon is back. You know what that means: Incredibly sexy female side kicks. Symbolic messages from classic literature and the fine arts. Weird codes to crack. A crazy psychotic villain who's choices are often blurred. And of course...the famous Mickey Mouse watch.
Whether you like Dan Brown or not, you can't deny the success he's had with his Robert Langdon series. Not only are these novels best sellers, but they also make a decent amount of money as films at the box office. So why all the interest and speculation around Brown's novels? Well, they're books that are filled with controversy, debated factual content, and crazy off the wall plots. They typically follow the same formula and the latest installment definitely doesn't change things much, but it offers a much darker tone embedded with some philosophical and scientific implications.
In this chapter of Brown's series, Professor Langdon wakes up in a hospital bed with a gun shot wound to the head. He cannot remember the events of the last two days and he consistently finds himself having horrific hallucinations of dead bodies in pools of blood and a silver haired woman. To make things even more messed up, Langdon learns that he isn't in America: he's in Florence. As Langdon tries to gain a grasp over his current situation, a mysterious woman with spiked hair, pale skin and a black leather coat comes into the hospital with a silenced weapon. Her target: Robert Langdon. As events begin to unravel, Robert Langdon and the interesting Dr. Sienna Brooks uncover a plot from a mad genetic scientist obsessed with Dante's infamous epic poem, Inferno. As they soon learn, the stakes go beyond cultural impact. This man's plans could cause a global catastrophe and put billions of lives at risks.
So, what does Brown get right in this installment? Brown introduces readers to a much darker story thanks to the introduction of his new villain and his obsessive focus on Dante's Inferno. Compared to previous installments, Langdon's latest foe is a lot smarter, calculating and vicious than previous antagonists. Moreover, what makes him the most frightening is his logic. His actions are menacing and he may be pursuing his goals through sadistic means, but the logic behind what he's doing makes sense, therefore making him a frightening adversary.
Brown also introduces us to Langdon's interesting and mysterious female sidekick, Dr. Sienna Brooks. This character also differs from past female leads who typically never offered much to Langdon other than occasional scientific information and a pretty face. Sienna Brooks, on the other hand, consistently helps Langdon through life and death situations. She's quick on her feet, smart, charming and most of all, she has a mysterious past that readers will definitely get sucked into.
Brown also manages to keep readers engaged with his classic cliff-hanger chapters and the plot goes by fairly quickly. The action starts on page one and doesn't let up until the end of the book. Much like previous installments, the problem is introduced quickly, resulting in a real page turner for fans of the series. Despite it's length, it's a relatively quick read due to the constant action and mystery in the story.
What does Brown get wrong? The length of the novel is definitely questionable. The novel is 480 pages long and while this may excite some Brown enthusiasts, many will quickly learn that the length is attributed to Brown's love for history and the fine arts. Throughout the course of the novel, you'll be left with a cliff hanger chapter....and then as you begin reading the following chapter, Brown spends pages and pages talking about historical information regarding artifacts, museums, art and literature. Langdon can't even walk down an alley way without Brown interjecting about the street's importance in the 1500's. While I'm all for historical background, there's a point where you have to cut it off and continue the story. This definitely ruined the pacing in some sections, especially during the second act which is filled with huge amounts of historical information.
Furthermore, the ending may not appeal to all readers. Brown definitely builds the story and suspense up tremendously. There are huge twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing and engaged, but the final twist might give off an anti-climactic feel. This twist definitely will not be what you expected and it does take a lot of the previous suspense away. The kicker, however, is that the ending does raise several philosophical and scientific questions. It really makes the reader ask questions such as: "How would I react in this situation?", "Do I agree with what just happened", "What are the political, social, economic and cultural implications of what just happened?". It's definitely an interesting twist that will have readers talking, but the fact that it was somewhat anti-climactic definitely took away from the story.
Dan Brown's Inferno, is a smart, fun and suspenseful read. While the formula isn't exactly altered, the story benefits from Langdon's charm, his side-kicks' engaging in-depth personality, and a dark villain with logical reasoning. The novel does suffer from too much historical background information, which does kill the pacing a few times in the second act. The ending also may not be satisfactory to everyone, but it does raise some great discussion questions and addresses some critical issues the world is going through. All in all, Inferno is a fun read that wont disappoint fans of the series.
Yes, my bad...this was supposed to be a blog lol.