Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno by Dan Brown
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Doubleday
Rating: 5 Stars
Synopsis: In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.


Wow! Dan Brown delivers again. I’ll be the first to admit I am biased here. I love me a good Robert Langdon novel anyday. That synopsis isn't lying either. This is by far the highest-stake that our old pal Robert has ever had to deal with.

You know in the second Harry Potter movie when Neville is hanging from the chandelier after the Pixie incident in Lockhart’s class? He hangs there and looks at Harry, Ron and Hermione and says, “Why is it always me?” I feel like Robert Langdon should have full ownership of that phrase.  Longtime fans of Langdon know that in every book he somehow gets pulled into an impossible situation that is always on the precipice of life or death. Inferno is no different; although there is quite the twist, in this case, which you will discover in the first chapter.

Like all Langdon novels Brown sends you on an epic adventure with beautiful artwork, architecture, symbology, and literature along the way. This novel is based around Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy which has three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio(Purgatory), and Paradisio(Paradise). The bulk of the novel centers on Inferno, but you do get little bits of the others. While I have not read Dante’s Inferno, I do know the basics. Dante wrote about nine circles of hell, in each level a different type of sinner is paying for their crimes. Reading Dante's Inferno is NOT mandatory to understand Brown's Inferno. You will be just fine if you delve in without any prior knowledge. Of course Robert Langdon knows much more about it than me, which is a good thing considering the fate of the world is in his hands yet again!

We all love Langdon’s female counterparts (he sure does go through them, doesn't he?) and this time is no different. In fact, this particular female might be my favorite out of the four novels so far. She is a very complex character and she has her own internal struggles throughout the novel in addition to the external struggles Landon and she face together. I love her too because she is a versatile character that cleverly helps Langdon through some impossible situations.

While you’d expect a twist or two in any Dan Brown novel, I would say this one takes the cake for the biggest plot twist yet. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that in Inferno, like all the others, you just never know who to trust.

One thing we know for sure is we have a villain. Oh and what a wonderful villain he is! Quite possibly my favorite part of Inferno is that Dan Brown, like never before, forces us to see things from the villain’s perspective. He brings up a real world problem and pushes us to face the reality that this problem is not just another great plot line in a story. It is real. It is happening. It is NOW. This is something our world is facing and we don’t know what to do about it. That is why even though the villain’s actions are extreme, you almost find yourself siding with him half the time. Inferno is not a black and white world where there are good and bad people with nothing in between. This whole novel is one big old gray area where you can find yourself being pulled in two different directions; unsure of which way is the right one and which is the wrong.

I should warn you that unlike the other three Langdon novels this one ends with a cliffhanger. Not to worry, it’s not like, oh, a Hunger Games cliffhanger. It’s more like a, “Wow. I have to sit and think on that for a while before I can anticipate the next book.” Was I the only one who was ready to start rioting and burning things for the Hunger Games sequels? This ending is much calmer than that, I promise.

All I can say is that fans of Dan Brown and Robert Langdon will not be disappointed, and if you are not yet a fan then it is high time to start! What are you waiting for!? Easily 5 stars in my book!

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