I have never really done any Dan Brown bashing before and right now I am ashamed to admit that I have read every single one of his books. I would have probably been better off had I invested the same amount of time and money in some other author but in my defense, I was too young to have known better. Now I do. And I pity the adults who still think his books make some sort of sense.
Inferno, aside from insulting Dante’s The Divine Comedy by taking on the same name, reveals in the title itself that Dan Brown has run into an imagination rut. He cannot come up with a suitable title for his book by himself, so he rips off from Dante.
The paperthin storyline of Inferno takes us back to Dan Brown’s Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon as he races through Florence, Venice and Istanbul to deal with a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. Filled with cliches galore, Inferno is a messy ride which falls flat from the beginning as Brown gets confused about what to do with his characters as his “plot” proceeds.
I cannot stop emphasizing on how chaotic this novel was. The author seems to be clinging hard to his theory of somehow making every single piece of art and architecture speak to us about mysterious calamities and secrets of faith, religion and science that are critical and global. Whereas the Da Vinci Code offered something new at the time, his other books are bombing because they are basically the same plot line, fine-tuned to appear more appealing.
So Robert Langdon wakes up with amnesia this time around. Nothing has changed about and around him. He still stops to remember his famous lectures in the middle of crucial moments while he is being chased by villlians on bikes. He is a babe magnet but he cannot seem to stop contemplating how old he is getting. Robert Langdon is weak and seems to keep making mistakes over and over again. The only convenient thing about him is his eidetic memory, which, is apparently the most important thing in Dan Brown’s novels. The ability to remember paintings and artifacts because all villains are pompous and crazy and love wasting time and energy in leaving behind clues that can potentially unravel all of their work.
This villain however, speaks to us from the grave. Through an overly reused (until its battered) video, the villain tells us about overpopulation and how he has decided to come up with something mind-blowing to stop our population explosion. But since science is conveniently beyond Langdon’s range, Dan Brown assumes safely that he can skim over it and leave his reader in the blank while he unnecessarily describes paintings and buildings which halt the so-called story line from moving along.
And on top of that, he chooses to indulge in rapid repetition, not just of words and lines but entire paragraphs.
There is no suspense here, the characters are wafer-thin with no backbone, his heroine is slender, charming, beautiful and talented, the villains take a sudden (and unexplained) turn for the better, after having left enough clues to lead Langdon right into the heart of their symbolically ominous lifework.
This book gave me a headache.