Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dan Brown's lnferno - disappointing and pedestrian.

Our favourite Harvard professor, Robert Langdon, returns in Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno (2013).

Langdon is back doing what he does best: deciphering symbols in artworks, visiting amazing buildings in Europe and of course, saving the world.

I thought Brown’s first three books in the Langdon series, Angels and Demons (2000), The Da Vinci Code (2003) and The Lost Symbol (2009), were all hugely fun, entertaining and enjoyable thrillers.

But Inferno is hugely disappointing, lacklustre and just plain boring.

In its review The Daily Mail called it ‘bilge, but one hell of a page turner’.  A tad harsh, but after finishing the book I don’t even think it rates as a page turner at all!

In fact, completing the book became a real chore because I had lost interest midway through the book.

Let’s face it, thrillers in the genre like The Da Vinci Code all have completely outlandish plots. I think that is fun part of the read, but really if you are going to do outlandish then as least make it interesting, intricate and fun outlandish.

The story begins with Langdon waking up in hospital in Florence and suffering amnesia after being shot in the head. He is unable to remember why he is in Florence and why a range of people are seemingly out to hurt him. He is left with a clues found in a Botticelli illustration for Dante's The Divine Comedy.

I don’t want to give too much away but a whole lot of elements didn’t really work for me and the plot twists when revealed were oh so pedestrian.

In the end I think Brown overreached in his focus on Dante’s The Divine Comedy and rather than engaging with it a meaningful way it was just used as simply a plot device.

One of the biggest grips I have about the book is that a good portion of it is full of badly written descriptions of very famous religious buildings like the Palazzo Vecchio and Sophia Hagia. 

Oh and the also the fact that Langdon seems to care more about his Mickey Mouse watch than the potential end of the world.

I must admit reading the various reviews of Inferno have actually been much more fun and entertaining then the book itself. That really says something!   

Some of the reviews are also master classes in the art of the backhanded compliment. The highlight being Jake Kerridge in The Telegraph who wrote “as a stylist Brown gets better and better: where once he was abysmal he is now just very poor.” SNAP.

Also from the Telegraph’s Michael Deacon’s written-in-the-style-of-Dan-Brown “Inferno” review is a real hoot too.

But in the end I feel disappointed, because I'm not a Dan Brown 'hater' and I actually wanted to like this book.

I was looking forward to a fun and interesting page turner, but instead it felt like a rather dull art history lecture.

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