Book column: “Inferno" by Dan Brown
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 22:10
So, I bit the bullet and did it.
I read Dan Brown’s latest book from his Robert Langdon-centered series, “Inferno.” Despite being extremely hesitant, after my disappointment with his last one, “The Lost Symbol,” I decided to give Brown one last chance and see what kind of misadventures Langdon could possibly fall into this time around.
The answer? A lot of them.
This time around, we find Robert stuck in a hospital bed in Venice, Italy, with a bullet wound to the head and no memory of how he got to Italy or became injured.
Before he can do more than wonder what the heck is going on, a woman with spiky hair attempts to break down his hospital door and shoot him again. Fortunately, an attractive female doctor manages to get him out of the hospital and to her apartment before he can meet an untimely demise.
With the help of his new female companion, Sienna (what happened to the last one? Or the one before that?), Langdon discovers a small tube hidden in his infamous tweed coat with a biohazard symbol on it, protected by a fingerprint lock. This immediately opens when Langdon put his thumb on the lock, revealing a medieval bone cylinder that, if you shake it, projects a modified image of Botticelli’s “Map of Hell.”
During these events, Sienna tells Robert to call the U.S. consulate for help, only to observe them sending the same woman who tried to kill him in the hospital to the address he gives them. When soldiers raid the building they are staying in, the pair flee for their lives.
While in flight, Robert notices the modified painting projection have added letters, which collectively spell “CATROVACER,” which when rearranged, reveals the words “CERCA TROVA,” which Robert recognizes from the painting “The Battle of Marciano” by Vasari.
And so another epic Robert Langdon scavenger hunt begins. This time, the hunt focuses around a genius obsessed with global overpopulation and his plans to curb this problem. In order to find out how to thwart his plans before the entire world is infected, Langdon and Sienna must solve clues centered mostly around Dante’s “Inferno” while evading the soldiers and assassins chasing them all over Europe.
While Brown holds true to the formula he has held onto for all of his books, the ending actually did have a few surprising twists. If you want to figure out if Langdon succeeds in his quest and what this novel’s villain wanted to implement to curb overpopulation, pick it up and see what you think.
Good news: “Inferno” was much better than “Lost Symbol,” the plot of which I have mostly forgotten. If you enjoy Dan Brown and don’t mind that he maintains his rigid hold of the plot formula he has clung to since his first novel, “Digital Fortress,” then you will be pleased by “Inferno.” If you’re looking for him to shake things up a bit, you’re pretty much out of luck.
I’m probably being too hard on Dan Brown. Many popular authors find a formula that works, maintain a tight grip on it and have done quite well with it without getting half the flack Brown gets for his novels. And I thoroughly enjoyed both “The DaVinci Code” and “Angels & Demons.”
I think what the frustrating thing about Brown refusing to let go of his formula is that he has the potential to do so much more. His writing, tone and general flow of his novels are great, sometimes even excellent. I, at least, feel if he decided to shake it up, he could create something just as good or even better than the other books he’s put out—and I also may feel less like I’m reading the same book over and over again.
Have a book you want to see reviewed? Know a great (or terrible) read? Email Rachel Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org!