Review: Inferno

◆ Inferno by Dan Brown
◆ Read December 2013
◆ English Edition
◆ 

❝ In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.❞
I had a bit of an issue with rating and reviewing Inferno. This is mainly because of a futile mistake Brown made which has probably cost him a lot of readers. You see, the first hundred pages or so of this book literally give you nothing. It describes that the protagonists are being shot at and they are running for their life. Robert Langdon has lost his memories and cannot recall how he ended up in Florence or why he's being chased.

As a reader you are completely left in the dark, with no clue whatsoever about what is going on. And it's perfectly fine to start a book like that, but you're not doing yourself any favors as a writer if your readers don't know what's going on for about 1/4 of the book. The lack of hints or progress bored me. If it wasn't for the fact that I never leave a book unfinished AND that this was a graduating present, I would have definitely put Inferno down.

The thing is though, I did continue to read and the story got so much better. Suddenly, it was explained how Langdon lost his memory and piece by piece you get to find out as a reader what his purpose is in Florence and why some people want him dead because of it. All this is wrapped in a series of scenes filled with action, which makes it all very exciting. 

What I liked best were the various riddles that are introduced and solved throughout the book. Furthermore, there was lots of additional background on history and Florentine art. I have to admit that some of these excerpts did not add anything to the plot. Personally I'm very interested in history though and it certainly helped me in imagining the setting of Florence.

Besides the obvious focus on art, history and architecture, the book features other  themes too that every one of us can at least relate to, to some extent: overpopulation and global health. It may not sound very interesting but the author managed to make it a terrifying business when one of the characters comes up with a very morbid solution for the problem. 

I won't deny that Brown should have thought twice about the first part of his book but all in all Inferno was a very interesting and exciting read, which is why I gave it four stars after all. The second half made up for what the first half missed and it ended up being quite the pageturner. I really do recommend everyone to plough through when it's dull because you'll get something amazing in the end!

4 stars because:
✓ History, art and riddles
✓ Interesting themes
✓ Lots of action
✗ The beginning was poorly executed.
 

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