Friday, 29 August 2014

Books: Inferno

Now, I don't normally write about books but I felt like making an exception for Dan Brown's Inferno. He's been one of my favourite authors ever since reading The Da Vinci Code over the course of a family holiday, much to the annoyance of my parents at the time. Often touted as one of the biggest selling authors of all time, Inferno is the third installment of the Robert Langdon series.

**** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS ****

The book starts in media res - thanks Los Campesinos! - with Langdon waking up in a hospital bed with a bullet wound, and from there he has to fight to piece together the last two days of his life, which are a total blank - although he does realise he's awoken in Florence. Pretty quickly he begins to trust one of the doctors treating him, Sienna Brooks, and the two set out on an adventure to recover the lost remnants of the Professor's mind. It's all based around Dante's masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, and all the associated works of art that were spawned from it.

Obviously everything is incredibly well researched, as is typical of Dan Brown. Everything fits together perfectly, and the level of detail is amazing. I genuinely don't know how he's able to create such an intricate mystery with all the knowledge that's required.

However the storyline doesn't seem to flow as easily with previous novels, and it definitely requires the suspension of disbelief. Everything Langdon knows he seems to have learnt from a private tour - which is probably completely accurate for a man of his stature, but it seems repetitive and dull. Plus his accomplice, Brooks, is meant to have an IQ of 208 but often has to play dumb in order for Langdon to explain, or be the one to figure out the mystery. It's almost comedic when he keeps repeating, 'Finally, something Sienna doesn't know'.

The little techniques he uses to lead the readers toward (and also away) from the big reveals are really interesting to see. Here his repetition aids the reader, keeping fresh certain scenes, while confusing things with misleading thoughts from each character - the book's written from about half a dozen people's . Half the notes I made while reading the book became irrelevant as everything unfolded, and that's one of the beauties of it. There's so many twists and turns, some of them obvious but a lot of them less so.

Really, it's just made me want to visit Istanbul and Florence (again). The cities are as much a character as anybody else. Time to wait for the movie, so I can be disappointed all over again.

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