Inferno: The Review

Inferno; Dan Brown, 2013; Doubleday

Okay, let me get my confession right out in front. Until a week ago, I had never read a Dan Brown book, though I have two on my ‘to read’ shelf. I did however watch the movie version of The Di Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and total loved it (And who to play Robert Langdon better than our boy Tommy?). But after all the cries of ‘heresy’ that swept through Christianity like a wild fire on a windy day, I didn’t see the need. Someone had royally stuck their finger in the ecclesiastic pie and the powers that ‘think they be’ wanted to cut it off two inches above the joint.

But last week I picked up Inferno and realized that in all good conscious I could not allow  myself to read Inferno without first reading the blasphemous “The De Vinci Code”. Which I did. And I must say Brown’s fictional hypotheses about Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the female divine, bothered me more than a cold jar of Tucks. Just goes to prove that books and their counter part movies can often be as different as the east is from the west.

So onto the review.

Inferno. All I can say is Dan Brown likes dropping rocks in ponds and seeing how far the wave will go.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I myself enjoy tossing boulders in ponds just to see how high the waves will go. And trust me, the wave in Inferno goes high (though not nearly as high as those in The Di Vince Code did). Right up and over the truth of the issues facing mankind; the healthier we are, the longer we live, the more resources we consume, the less there is and the ultimate outcome is…self inflicted genocide.

And in the end it’s sure as heck hard to argue with a mad man’s choice. That is to say, if there wasn’t hope. If there was no alternative. And if like Brown suggests, the same DNA that caused man to evolve to where we are today, could also give us the genius to figure out how to survive global annihilation, didn’t already exist within us.

Beside the fact that I admire Brown’s willingness to throw rocks in ponds I have to also say, I am very impressed with the amount of research this guy puts into his books. For any of my readers who are themselves authors, you know what I’m talking about. The author must have spent a gazillion hours just in research, not to mention taking all that information and weaving character, plot line and style into it.

Fact is, when I finished the book I felt like I had just been given a personal tour of Italy, Venice and parts of Istanbul. My very own semi-virtual tour equipped with tour guide, mystery guests and DVR.

Why leave home when you can simply read Dan Brown?

Unlike some of my favorite authors, Mr. Brown uses his research to tell the story, rather than his characters. In other words Inferno is plot-story driven rather than character driven. Not that I found either Robert Langdon, Sienna Brooks, the provost or Elizebeth Sinskey weak. Not at all. Each character had just the right amount of idiosyncratic details to make them interesting without being domineering (same was true with The De Vinci Code).

But Brown’s characters are never the point – Brown’s passion for iconology, artifacts, history, mythology and symbology are. And as long as the reader keeps that in mind, they will never be disappointed – weary maybe (after the twentieth reference to Dante’ Inferno I did find myself skipping entire paragraphs – never a good thing) – but never disappointed. Brown has enough information on art, history, religion, icons, Catholicism, Protestantism and every other ism’ to start his own library. Which I’d bet my last nickel he already has.

So if you like fast paced books chock full of travel guide information and just enough intrigue to qualify as a semi cardio vascular workout, then by all means read on. Inferno will give you all that and more. Plus…if you’ve watched “The Divinci Code” or “Angels and Demons” then you can insert an image of Tom Hanks in as the every lovable Robert Langdon.

On my readers list of 1-5 stars I’m giving Dan Brown’s “Inferno” a 3.5 for good story and 4.5 for some of the best research I’ve ever seen.