I have been waiting awhile for Dan Brown to continue where he left off in the Robert Langdon series, which brought us Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol. The first two were incredible, while the most recent, set to a different tune in America, fell quite short. Inferno, the newest of Dan Brown's novels that plays in the tune of Dante's greatest work in The Divine Comedy about his trip into Hell guided by Virgil, is a slight recovery from Symbol, but falls short compared to his first two, which were really top of the line.
I was planning on buying Inferno as soon as I could get my hands on it, because that's how I am with important works like this and Dan Brown has won me over well enough to have my money for his book the moment it comes out in hardcover, which is a rarity for a paperback buyer like myself. It just so happens that my former World Literature instructor recommended it to our club and so I might as well satisfy the interest in reading by digging in to this Langdon thriller.
Robert Langdon begins his adventure in a hospital, where he's being treated for a bullet wound to the head that he picked up from an unknown area. After an immediate surprise moment, he escapes the hospital with Dr. Sienna Brooks, who plays his female cohort in the story. Seems as if Langdon always finds a different female to join him on his adventure and compliment his symbology intellect with a different kind of witty, "kick ass" kind of intelligence. At this time, he is still being chased by a female biker known as Vayentha, but this is only part of the adventure. Langdon and Brooks go through several hurdles trying to evaluate the crime while trying to get out of harm's way.
Set in Florence, Italy, Dante's Inferno plays a major theme to the story. In addition, Dante's life plays a major theme behind the meaning of different pieces of evidence in which Langdon and Brooks come across. At the same time, Inferno takes a backseat to a second plot that plays just a large, if not a larger, role in the story. Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey, who is in charge at the World Health Organization, is after Bertrand Zobrist and his eccentric idea to release something that will wipe out a portion of humanity in order to keep the rapidly growing population from going out of control. The theme of how our population is too large for our own good plays an important role, so important that it takes away from the intended theme of Dante's Inferno, which should be the chief theme, but it's the climax that we're after and the wild twists and turns that encourage to keep reading even as the night progresses. The topic of our drastically increasing world population does most of that.
This novel has shown the same kind of Langdon story with a different woman, a different city, and a different theme. Otherwise, the pace was in many ways extremely similar. I'm happy that Dan Brown returned after his mediocre at best Symbol to produce something slightly better. Chances are that within a few years time, Brown will be out with another Langdon thriller with just about the same kind of setup with a different woman, city, and theme. Chances are I will check out that novel as well and read it throughout. You have to leave an awful taste in my mouth in order to chase me away.
My verdict for Dan Brown's Inferno is a 7/10, which is on the fence of being good and okay. If you are looking at something that evaluates Dante's Inferno to a heavy degree and are a reader of literature's finest, there isn't as many elements in there for you. If you enjoy a thriller with twists and turns that keeps you peeled to the book, this will surely not disappoint, especially when everyone heads to Istanbul, Turkey, and things rise to a boiling point and an incredibly shocking case occurs. Inferno fans may leave a bit dissatisfied, but those who enjoy a good thriller should feel a least a bit satisfied.
I also find it appropriate to mention the unfortunate death of James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano on the hit TV show, The Sopranos. He died from a heart attack yesterday at the age of 51. In addition, on the topic of thriller writers, Vince Flynn lost his battle to prostate cancer and died at the age of 47. Flynn was the author of the Mitch Rapp series, which I was not able to read, but I do own a copy of Act of Treason, which I may or may not get to. Rest in peace to both of these men who made massive contributions to their respective craft.