It’s about time, as a writer, that I reviewed the writings of another. I start with one of my favourite novelists and one of the biggest names in literature.
Nobody can argue with the success of Dan Brown. He’s achieved what most of us authors could only dream to achieve. Not only does he leave a host of best-sellers in his wake, but he’s had some of his stories made into movies. That really is about as good as it gets and you have to doff your cap to Brown for having the wherewithal to make that happen.
I’ve always upheld that Dan Brown isn’t the best of writers technically. What he is, however, is an excellent storyteller with a niche for gripping you into the scene in which the story is set. You can be the best technical writer in the game; that doesn’t make you a good novelist. Dan Brown is about as good a novelist as you’ll find out there.
That brings me onto the fourth instalment of his Robert Langdon series of novels. Having read and really enjoyed Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol, I was expecting good things from Inferno. I had been told from one or two sources that it wasn’t that great. They must have been reading something else because I found it every bit as gripping as the previous titles.
Without giving too much of the plot away, Langdon awakes in a hospital with no memory of how he got there or why he appears to have been shot in the head. So begins Langdon’s quest to find out what has happened to him. In doing so, he uncovers a plot that could irreparably change the world. As standard, there’s a female companion in the form of Sienna Brooks.
The majority of the story is set in Florence, a place I yearn to visit. Part of it is set in Venice, another place I yearn to visit, before ending in Istanbul. Yup, you guessed it. Another place I yearn to visit!
As per, it’s full of fast-paced action and the symbology which always ties into each of these stories. You’d think people would have heard of Langdon by now and stopped using symbology as a means to leaving clues, wouldn’t you? I’m grateful they remain ignorant because it means Brown will continue with this fascinating series.
Having seen Tom Hanks cast in the role of Robert Langdon I can no longer picture the Harvard symbologist as anyone else. I’m yet to see the movie adaptation of Inferno. No doubt I’ll get around to it in due course. None of the movies have been as good as the books, though the benchmark is set unfairly high in this case.
If you haven’t read Inferno then I’d suggest you do. The fact that the story is centred around Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy makes it all the more enticing. It’s cleverly written and there’s a clear message, a warning, contained within. I like that Brown has communicated the message of overpopulation and highlighted the rapid rise in the earth’s population in the last hundred years. The stats will actually blow your mind as it puts a few things in perspective. He’s not been afraid to intimate that we’re living too long and reproducing too quickly, something which some people out there could maybe be offended by.
Inferno was the first novel I’ve read in rather a long time and I’m glad I read it as it’s stoked my enthusiasm to read more. In fact, I recently purchased the latest story in the Robert Langdon saga, Origin, and shall be working my way through that in due course. I have a couple of John Grisham titles to start on too. I’m not short on reading material for the near future.
Some people aren’t a fan of Dan Brown. Their reasons for not being a fan aren’t clear, but then we can’t all like the same things. I think he’s an extremely good author personally and he merits the global acclaim he’s achieved. He’s pushed the boundaries of storytelling in his own way. It’s my hope that he’ll continue the Robert Langdon series for a good long while yet.
My verdict is that if you haven’t read Inferno then you should absolutely give it a try. It’s a real page-turner and definitely one of my favourite novels to date; maybe not quite as good as The Da Vinci Code, perhaps very marginally better than Angels & Demons. If you have read Inferno, or any of Dan Brown’s offerings for that matter, you should let me know what you think of the book and of him as an author.