Inferno, Dan Brown


inferno_book_cover-480Doubleday, 2013

ISBN 0385537859

Robert Langdon is poised to save the world again in Dan Brown’s latest in the Langdon series, Inferno.  In the highly awaited novel, Brown explores new questions while retaining his unique mix of action, history, and cutting-edge science.

With Dante’s Inferno as backdrop, Dan Brown’s novel is what readers have come to expect from the author.  Filled with history, symbolism, action, secret passages, and global intrigue, it is a quick-paced read that is quite enjoyable.

As in his other novels, Brown does a wonderful job of describing famous world sites and making the reader feel like they are right there with Langdon.  Those who have visited the places described in the novel will be struck by the realistic descriptions; those who have not will be able to experience them through Brown’s vivid portrayal.

This time, Langdon’s foe is a rich genius bent on solving the problem of overpopulation, a subject that Brown explains at length throughout the book.

I liked this book a lot more than Brown’s previous book in the series, The Lost Symbol, but not as much as the first Langdon book, The Da Vinci Code.  However, I did read it in about two days and enjoyed every minute of it.

I enjoyed the characters and have always liked Langdon, even though he is much better looking than Tom Hanks in my mind.  I liked the new characters and thought the idea of starting a book after the bad guy is dead was a nice touch.

Brown’s extensive research on Dante’s Inferno, Florence, and the science is woven into the story in a way that does not stop the action, but keeps it going.  The book is well structured, with the action and research providing a good counterpoint to each other.

Maybe because I personally researched Dante’s Inferno last year for an unrelated project, I felt that Brown’s links and ways of incorporating the classic work into the novel could have been done better.  It could have also been done worse.

Brown uses a pretty transparent tool of metafiction by ending the book with the exact same word as Dante ends the three parts of his Divine Comedy.  However, I have to admit that even though Brown is a bit heavy-handed with this device, I smiled when I read it.  I felt complicit with the writer, which is kind of the goal of this device, to make you feel like you and the writer are sharing something that others may not have caught if they were not as bright or observant or well-read.  Again, a bit heavy-handed, because he mentions it several times in the book, but demonstrates a clear concern, awareness, and evolution of style on the part of the writer.

Even though Brown has been criticized for “his overwriting, his overuse of clichés, his paper-thin characterizations, and his impenetrably murky plots,” his books are still enjoyable, easy to read, and entertaining.   This book in particular shows how Brown is progressing as a writer in terms of style and structure.

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