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Inferno, by Dan Brown
I have to be completely honest in my assessment of Inferno, the latest Robert Langdon thriller by Dan Brown. I started the book with high hopes. I have certainly enjoyed Mr. Browns tales in the past, even though I have been a little put-off by some of the impractical plot twists. I wanted to enjoy this book. But I finished the last page with a feeling of disappointment and un-fulfillment. Mr. Brown had me, then he lost me.
Despite the fact that the book has topped the charts in sales the past several weeks, some clues point to the mediocrity of the story. The reviews have not all been positive; quite mixed, in fact. Some reviewers have downright criticized Mr. Brown for his poor-writing and misinterpretation of facts.
I have no real criticism for any factual information put in the story, authentic or not. The bottom line is that this is a work of fiction, and Mr. Brown can distort historical facts to fit in his tale any way he pleases. There will always be those that are sticklers for the truth though, and will be offended by any misinterpretations. Where I will criticize this book, however, is in its absurd plot twists and daft intrigue.
In the tale, the day is saved once again by Harvard Symbolist, Professor Robert Langdon. The book begins with him awakening in a Venice hospital; wounded, amnesiac and confused about his whereabouts for the past two days. By stories end, the resolution to these problems has been revealed, and had me shaking my head in disappointment. I think Mr. Brown could have thought up some better twists to the story.
Inferno, like the Da Vinci Code, like Angels and Demons (still my favorite among the books), and like The Lost Symbol, contains equal parts religious, symbolic and historical intrigue, as well as suspenseful, page-turning thrills. Where it fails for those of us chained to reality, is the fact that a college professor has once again escaped every conceivable danger thrown his way and thwarted evil.
Finally, where Mr. Brown truly fails in my eyes, is that his books are increasingly attempting to appeal to the general public with the addition of more and more plot twists to keep the pages turning and the books selling. He includes just enough facts, history and enlightenment to keep the intellectuals interested, but that alone will never translate to bestseller status.
I am more than grateful to Mr. Brown for introducing such details and events as Noetic Science, The Divine Comedy, overpopulation and others to me. These have motivated me to learn more about them and eventually influence my own writings. But I also hope that Mr. Langdon settles back in at Cambridge and focuses on his lectures for awhile. Maybe Mr. Brown could write a book on symbology and religious history and release it under Mr. Langdon's name. We'll see how many thrill-seekers flock to the bookstore to buy that one.