KokkieH Reviews Inferno by Dan Brown

Around page 270 everything changes.  We start being subjected to long-winded explanations as pieces of the puzzle start falling into place, and while some of the explanations are needed for the sake of clarity, several pages worth could have been left out without harming the plot of the novel in any way.

Several characters are revealed as not being who we thought they were.  Again, normally this would go down as introducing a twist, and usually I would enjoy it.  Unfortunately here the multiple points of view came back to bite Mr Brown in the backside.  It is one thing to reveal that a character that we had thought to be a prisoner is actually the person calling the shots.  It is quite another if you had created the former assumption from inside the character’s own head.  And similar reveals happen with almost every character in the story apart from Langdon.  I actually started paging back to earlier portions of the novel to make sure I hadn’t missed something.  While I’m sure Mr Brown was trying to lay red herrings, all he succeeded in doing was frustrating me.  It also seems as if he thinks his readers are stupid and won’t spot him trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Dante Alighieri, author of the original Inferno.  He doesn't look impressed either.
Dante Alighieri, author of the original Inferno. He doesn’t look impressed either.

The build-up to the end is somewhat ruined by the jarring revelations and endless explanations, but at this point it doesn’t really matter anymore because what should be the edge-of-the-seat climax of a race to save humanity turn out to be the single most disappointing anti-climax I’ve ever experienced in a novel.  And it’s not like in Nineteen-Eighty-Four where Winston Smith’s fate is really inevitable if you think about it.  It seemed to me like Mr Brown didn’t want the typical hero-saves-the-day type of ending, which I can respect, but what he came up with made me want to chuck the book across the room (only my love for all books, no matter their content, and the fact that it would have woken my wife kept me from doing just that).

But the torture still didn’t end.  The non-climax was followed by another thirty pages of mind-numbing exposition (which I’ll admit to only skimming) to try and make sense of everything that hadn’t made sense in the preceding four-hundred-and-thirty pages.  There’s a bunch of science which, as I’m not a scientist, I won’t presume to judge.  However, I didn’t buy it.  There’s some sudden character development which is so contrived it made me roll my eyes.  And there’s a feeling of deep dissatisfaction and the realisation that the time spent reading this novel will never be redeemed.

Will I recommend this novel?  Not unless you’re into masochism (or someone I really dislike).  Will I ever read a Dan Brown novel again?  Highly unlikely (and that goes for the upcoming film of The Lost Symbol as well).  Do you want my copy after all you’ve read here?  Let me know in the comments and I might just send it to you.

That’s all for now.  Tune in tomorrow for another Song Title Challenge (unless the Illuminati comes and blows up my house with anti-matter before then) 😉

9 thoughts on “KokkieH Reviews Inferno by Dan Brown

  1. Y’know, by the end of your 2nd page I was starting to like the sound of this novel. By the end…less so :P. I’ll probably still check out the Lost Symbol movie, though, if only because I liked the Angels & Demons adaption so much.

    1. The first two thirds really weren’t bad, and you wouldn’t notice the Brownisms if you’re not an expert on Dante and Florence. But he ruined it for me with the twists. The final act did not fit in with the first two, in my opinion (and I confess I don’t know that much). Next time round I’ll rather read the original Inferno 😉

  2. I could reconcile most of the ‘plot twists’… The fact that agent bruder was reporting back to WHO and not the Provost… I got lost there! Who was he calling if not the provost? There explicit references to him calling a male. Unless he’s been calling his HQ, and some random person, this twist goes down as a fail!

    1. Definitely. Especially when we consider that his boss was right there with him (and we’ll ignore the fact that Europe doesn’t have its own SWAT team to deal with epidemics and such…). What really irritated me is that he used Sinskey’s POV, in other words her thoughts, to show us she’s a captive while she was actually in charge. Laying red herrings is one thing, but that felt like Brown was trying to trick us.

  3. I’ve read enough Dan Brown to not want to read any more. The two I read – ‘The Of Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels and Demons’ reveal a mastery of structure and of a topic highly likely to seize interest – but that’s about it. The science and history he reveals in these books is riddled with idiotic errors, and I was left with the disturbing impression that he hadn’t actually visited Paris for the former novel. More crucially, for me anyway, his writing has a choking ineptitude about it that to my mind should have been fixed by his publishers; both in terms of his characters – who are cardboard – and the technical writing style itself. I can’t fault the guy for selling 80 million copies or more of his books, but the ones i read could have been so much better written.

    1. In this case I feel he failed in terms of structure as well. The last part of the book almost seemed disconnected from the first with all the about-turns regarding the character roles and motivations. It’s as if the story got away from him at some point and he just pushed ahead regardless.

    1. The ending quite ruined what would otherwise have been a reasonably entertaining, though still not great, novel. I think there are many better ones you can read instead.

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