Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown
Title: Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)
Author: Dan Brown
Release date: 05/14/2013
I'm a little torn over exactly how to review this, as some of what I might say might not sound fair to some. Essentially what my review boils down to in a nutshell is that while this book is readable, Brown's biggest failing is that he takes 10 pages to say something that could have been better imparted in about 5 or 6. It also doesn't help that the wide cast of characters distracts rather than intrigues. I really think Brown should have looked to his prior works, Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code, because what made those two books work is that they were more to the point. That brevity and sense of pacing was more present here than in the last book, but it was still sorely missing.
Part of the biggest issue about the overly verbose prose here is that while this works very, very well whenever Brown is trying to inform us about some interesting factoid about human nature or history. When it comes to the action scenes? That's when the pages and pages of prose fail. Scenes that were supposed to be pulse pounding come across as less than urgent, at least to me. In many cases I was more frustrated that it took Brown so long to get to whatever point he was trying to make in any given scene than mesmerized.
There are, of course, characters that aren't what they seem. Many readers will be able to sniff out who they are a mile away, which lends even more to the sense of frustration over the book's pacing. I just wanted to scream at Brown "Come on, I know who FS-2080 is! Just get on with it!" This wouldn't have been so bad and could have brought about a nice sense of anticipation, except that again- this just took too long to get where it was going. In trying to be awfully clever, Brown just makes things far more complicated than they really needed to be. By the time he finally decides to reveal something, you'd already pretty much predicted this about 20-30 pages back, if not even sooner than that.
That isn't to say that this is awful, though. This is yards better than The Lost Symbol, although that might not be saying much to some readers. There are some interesting plot ideas submerged under pages and pages of Langdon musing over himself, his wardrobe, and running from one enemy or another. The idea of human population growth and the threat it brings on a global scale is a very, very intriguing and very current issue that I wish could've been explored more in this book.
Oh, and that's the other thing I should mention. This isn't really a "history's mysteries" type of book like the other Langdon books were. Langdon does spend quite a bit of time mucking about in dusty rooms, but the main threat here is something far more modern. I like the historical aspects and mysteries here, but occasionally I wished that there was less of that and more of the more modern elements, because that's where the real meat of this story was. While Brown does do a decent job of informing us about the various historical mysteries that serve as stepping stones to the eventual conclusion, these detract more than add to the overall pacing of the book. It just seemed a little too drawn out and I wish that some of these had been saved for perhaps a small novella or a future work. (I'd heard rumor that this was supposed to be the last Langdon book, but I'll believe that when I fail to see any further books.)
In the end, you're wondering: should I read it? Sure, why not? This is a decent enough library read, although I would like to stress that you'll probably want to get this from the library. It's interesting enough, but I think that for many this will be something they'll only read once or twice. Better to give your local library some much needed love on this one and then purchase it from Amazon or your local bookstore if you find that you really want to own Inferno. I just hope that many won't immediately discard this because of the more modern dangers, as I think that this element was one of the strongest pieces of the book. But yeah, this really could have been about 100 pages shorter and been all the more enticing for it.
3 out of 5 stars