Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dan Brown's Inferno – A review

Not so long ago I read the latest book of Dan Brown „Inferno“. It is not a coincidence that is named after the famous book of Dante since it is indeed the main world that is explored through the book. Today I set forth on a analysis of the contents of the book. The analysis, it is for all intent and purposes not meant to spoil the fun to those who haven't yet read the book, this means that an effort will be made to avoid any major spoilers about the book and its plot.

I do not intend to label the book with a number from one to ten, neither to give an evaluation like if it were a product. I'll try to explore the interesting aspects of the book, as well as those that were predictable or so to say not very remarkable.

Not being the first book of Dan Brown, it is somehow inevitable to compare it to his previous works. Its more known being the da Vinci Code, a remarkable piece of mystery with a great background that narrates the adventures of the Harvard professor Robert Langdon as he becomes the receipt of a message left to him by a dead man. Let us then start with what we shall call the bad aspects of the book.


It is immediately noticeable that the components of the story are similar to those that appeared before in the previous books of Mr. Brown, the elements to no surprise are: a female co-protagonist, A country in western Europe where the events unfold, Mr Langdon himself of course and of course as well art. These elements are those that are found in all the books, in this time though in a different maybe more dynamic matter. The element that also repeats is the one of the secret societies or organizations for that matter, that I guess, came to no surprise. The role of the female co-protagonist is one that is recurrent as well as necessary for the plot and in all cases acts as the counterbalancing element to the personality and abilities of Mr. Langdon. In this as it is in the previous cases is a woman with strong intellect and interesting resources that takes them both out of the complicated situations. Another common thing is that they all have a strong affinity for science in some of its form, which like stated before serves as counterpart to the skills of the protagonist.


Although this has already been stated, it must be mentioned again. It is inevitable to compare Inferno with its predecessors, and although one does not intentionally (or consciously for that matter) does it, one can make a very educated guess about the ending as well as the fate of some of the characters just by having read any of the previous book and putting together two plus two. One noticeable example for this is the death factor present in all the books. We may have guessed that one or more of the main characters would end up dead. We did not get disappointed, although I dare say that that was indeed predictable. Another interesting element to be mentioned in this section is the writing style, this is both predictable as well as the signature style of Mr. Brown, it can be encompassed as predicable since it is to be expected that after some tension in the plot with certain character is created the chapter ends abruptly leaving us at the edge of the seat and hoping to find out soon what happened, and since the next chapter starts with some other character role in the events, that indeed helps to keep the reader interested or at least curious.

The book itself is good according to my own opinion since it kept me interested from the beginning to the end, as it awoke as well my interest in the texts of Dante and the symbolism and the art that inspired it and in the one the text inspired later on. Therefore I'd like to cover the aspects of the book that I found special, some of those might even fall in the negative categories discussed before, but it is the dual nature of its content that gives the book life and richness.
The art of the Italian Renaissance

One of the most remarkable things I found in the book is the art. Brown does his homework well when it comes to the art involved in the books and immerse us in its meaning and context through the eyes of the art professor personified in Robert Langdon. Sculptures, paintings and architecture are explored by the duo through the book. These masterpieces alone are not what makes them worth of praise but the company of its historical background and significance during the Renaissance adds the necessary spice to make one feel immediately related to them. The paintings in particular are worth of mention since the strong descriptions make one feel captured by its gravitational pull. I am myself not an art historian and my appreciation of it is not at all educated, but I am of the idea that when the right context is provided, the reasons for that something to become interesting jump into our faces. History about this period of Italy is the utmost characteristic that I found fascinating. The book immerse us into the Renaissance of course but also with the context of the event that devastated most of Europe during that century. That event is no other that the black plague, object also of many depictions and artistic works that portraits the horror suffered by the people during that era.

The technology

There is a statement at the beginning of the book that says that all the technology and organizations presented in the book are real. Of course not exactly as it is presented in the book but real indeed. It is not to be forgotten that the reach of the technology in the book might be out of proportion or better said, too far head of our time. If we again recall the technology from angel and demos, it is easy to see that although a technology such as the LHC (Large hadron collider) exists it is not to be understood that had the capability of isolating black matter as it was suggested in the book. Again, black matter is a scientific fact (or more of a educated belief) but it is to this day not possible by human means to harvest or collect any. This same idea applies to inferno. The plot of the book spins around the biotechnology and the advantages it poses for the human development, to be more specific it does it around the genetic engineering and its possible effects in the human race for good and for evil purposes. The facts presented in the book are indeed plausible but might be some years away from us now. Another interesting aspect was the surveillance technologies presented in the book. I liked personally very much the idea of the helicopter drone that pursued Landon and Dr. Miller thorough the book. These machines are as real as it gets, and with much higher military capabilities than those portrayed in the book. We can also recently recall the most recent espionage scandal that captured the attention of the world media. A single man decided to face an entire nation into exposing what he wholeheartedly believed to be of evil intent, he showed the extent into which communications can be traced, and analyzed, something we always know was possible but knowing it for certain did indeed startled everyone at least a bit.


The book offers a fresh new adventure of the Prof. Langdon and his Femme fatale co protagonist, while maybe a bit predictable and framed in similar mechanics as its predecessors it still manages to set the path for further adventures of the charismatic professor of the mickey mouse watch. The story is well researched, elaborated and with good elements that keep the reader interested. The framework of the Renaissance is a great plus that makes up for a good combination that proves to add a mystery factor to the plot, not to forget that also presents history and culture in a different form, maybe a bit diluted but still manages to pull off the job of keeping it fresh and interesting. I recommend reading the book and judging for yourselves. Whether you have read before or not the adventures of Prof. Langdon, it is in any case a book totally worth reading, with the necessary elemtns to make it maybe not memorable but source of good entertainment and conversation.

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