Book Review: Inferno

Thursday 21 November 2013 by

Inferno, Dan Brown, BookI was feeling the equivalent of literary peckishness, so I chose a book that would satisfy my appetite for something ‘light’ to read.

**I can hear all of the literary high-brow bods groaning into their china-cupped Earl Grey (with lemon not milk)**

A few hours later…

Now on chapter 22.

The art history trip to Florence with the Harris-tweed loving professor and his oh-so-clever (naturally!) blond side-kick Dr Sienna Brooks isn’t bad so far. It’s not great either. But, I am only a day in and there are a lot of chapters left to read.

A few days later…

Just past the halfway point and this book is taking ages. I forget I’m reading it and go days without turning on my Kindle.

It also has an annoying habit of sending me into a deep sleep. Doesn’t matter where I am, I start snoozing! Tube, train, bus or sofa… I’m in la-la land. Which means this book is taking forever to read!

So far, Inferno is still just okay. (Read: I hate not finishing a book I have already started, so onward I go).

A few more days later…

I have now finished Inferno. FINALLY!

If my copy had been a real book, I would have chucked into a dark corner of the room and left it there to sit and think about what a bad boy it had been. I may even have dusted of my dunce hat for the occasion.

Side note: The hat would have been for me not the book! I clearly deserve a cone-shaped, paper monstrosity with the letter ‘D’ prominently painted on the front, for reading Inferno in the first place.



In summary, Inferno is about a mad, billionaire scientist who has an unhealthy obsession with the Black Death and has decided humanity is on the verge of extinction from overpopulation. Add in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy), and boffin symbologist-turned-action hero Robert Langdon and voila – instant Dan Brown novel!

Of course no Dan Brown tale would be complete without the brilliant young woman, who hides a dark secret. An assassin. A shadowy male figure at the head of a secret faction (obviously behind all of the turmoil in which Langdon finds himself). And, of course, the professor’s ‘eidetic memory’ – or in this case, his lack thereof because he has ‘retrograde amnesia’ for most of the book.

Inferno is clunky and Brown eliminates any chance of your imagination doing any grunt work for you.

The language was awful, full of hyperbole mixed with boring, but edifying, insights into Florence and Venice’s history, and I would unconsciously skim read paragraphs and move straight into the action scenes. The art/history secrets read like a tour-guide and felt like afterthoughts rather than being any kind of driving force to the story.

I did like the idea of Dante’s Inferno as the backdrop to the story: an apocalyptic eco-crisis caused by overpopulation, and a man-made plague that would bring humanity into a new renaissance. It was different. It had potential. Unfortunately, the novel became a preachy, moralising narrative on the woes of overpopulation and the destruction of the Earth’s natural resources.

The characters were boring and even good old Langdon just wasn’t on form this time round. Our hero was beaten and tired from the beginning and his struggle with ‘amnesia’ soon became annoying and frustrating. The bad guys were not scary enough and Sienna Brooks was a lacklustre character. Most of the story felt too convenient, and considering only a few days pass in the story it felt like months.

Nevertheless, there were some good twists in the second half of the book, but I’m not going to tell you! You’ll have to read the book and trawl through the nine circles of snooze before you can reach paradise!

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