With a title like ‘Inferno’ you would expect Dan Brown’s most recent novel to set your world alight once you start reading. The big question is, did it?
Well as is quite typical with Dan Brown we are certainly thrown in to the action from the off. From the very first page we are surrounded by mystery and at every turn the mystery seems to deepen.
What Brown does best is keep us guessing, throughout the novel we are thrown into events and given facts that make us question everything we thought we’d already pieced together. Who can be trusted? Who are the enemies? Why are we being chased? What will we find? These are just some of the questions that you’ll find yourself asking within the first few chapters.
The action is, as usual, incredibly fast paced and exciting and the quick thinking of Langdon and his ‘sidekick’ for a large portion of the book, Sienna Brookes keeps the pace of the book at a high and keeps the heart racing.
I found myself constantly questioning, wondering what was going on, what I could piece together. It was certainly a book that kept me thinking and wondering. Which, arguably, is the best thing a book can do.
One of the things I loved the most about this particular outing with Langdon was the constantly overhanging moral question – would you sacrifice half the population now knowing that if you didn’t the entire population would die out within the century? It’s a morality question that always fascinates me, and one that I toyed with throughout reading this novel. It gave the book another layer, it was more than a usual Dan Brown mystery thriller. It was thought provoking, deep and questioning.
Most of this came from the character of Sienna Brookes. Unlike the mysterious Zobrist, the novel’s main antagonist and the main character posing this morality question, Sienna has more depth, and even though it takes a while for her full backstory to be revealed, we’re always aware that there is more to her. She’s intelligent, witty, resourceful and attractive (despite her baldness). She was, quite possibly my favourite Dan Brown female character to date. Except for one, major flaw. Like so many Dan Brown females, she just can’t resist developing feelings for Professor Langdon. It was something of a let-down for someone who had been a fantastic character, to suddenly fall into the same trap that most of Langdon’s female accomplices seem to fall in to. But thankfully, Sienna had been a strong enough character for most of the novel so far that I’ll let it slide.
As with Brown’s other novels, the high tempo action is bookended by incredibly in depth descriptions. When describing his locations Brown’s attention to history, detail and culture is astounding and truly gives you a feel for the action’s setting. It’s vivid, it’s rich and quite unlike any description you get in any other novel. But I have to say, after the third page of description on one Florentine square, I was ready to skip a few paragraphs and get back to unravelling the mystery. Yes the descriptions was colourful and vivid in ways I don’t think any other author achieves, but ultimately for the most part, I just didn’t care. It wasn’t always crucial to the progression of the story and though incredibly well written, it did sometimes feel as though Brown was unsure how to fill his pages and so delayed the story arch progression in order to fill his contracted pages with well written, but irrelevant description.
As we race towards the novels end, it’s a heart racing building to the climax. But then we get there and…. well I don’t want to give too much away but… talk about an anti-climax. Our protagonists are rendered useless, and Langdon returns to his normal, everyday lecturer’s life, happy to hand the fallout of the novel to others.
To conclude, Inferno is a thrilling, thought provoking novel, much as we’ve come to expect from Dan Brown. Just maybe cut down on some of the description and get back to the mystery solving on occasion.