31 July 2013

Inferno - Dan Brown

Robert Langdon's fourth foray into an international crisis begins quite differently from his other adventures; finds himself waking up in a hospital, in a completely different country to the one he thought he was in, with no memory of the past two days. To make things worse, a woman he can't identify is trying to kill him, and all he can do is to go along with the doctor who saved his life. What happens next is a breathless chase through the streets of Florence, with Langdon frantically trying to recall his actions.

As with any of Dan Brown's works, this book is highly intelligent and meticulously thought-through. There is always an impressive amount of research with all of this authors books, and this book certainly doesn't disappoint. Although I don't confess to know anything about the subject matter, the book made me feel like I learnt a lot. The focus this time is on Dante Alghieri's The Divine Comedy, specifically on the epic poem's first part; Inferno, or in other words, Hell. It also delves into the concept of Man's existence on this planet and the impact of our ever-increasing numbers. Of all the Langdon books, the ideas and truths that it sets out pack the most punch, and resonate with the fear of death that is in most of us.

The one thing that make strike some readers is the similarity in plot points to other works in this series; a female companion, a race against time (this time to save the world), a treasure hunt with clues in art and literature, a shocking secret, an organisation or two that is deeply involved in the threat.. the list goes on. Landon's knowledge and his useful eidetic memory pieces it all together rather well, and manages to escape through several memorised routes... every other chapter.

The twist in this story is that Langdon has no idea who to trust or how he got to Florence and, as always, we are right there piecing the puzzle together with him. This story seems a lot more personal and character-driven than the like of Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. Here, the story progresses in a way that in much easier to read and has a wonderfully human element to it.

This is a classic thriller in every sense, a book for the masses, as Brown's other works are. It is a very enjoyable read, but the end is seriously lacking. It isn't definite as to whether the threat can be stopped or not, or if it will be, and although this leaves it open to interpretation, sceptics may think that this is actually a ploy to get us to read the next book (if any) in search of answers. Should there be more Langdon books? Yes, definitely, but just give the end more punch. We don't want to be left standing there with a book and a bunch of questions.

It's a 7 out of 10.

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