Following a suitably short, but none-the-less intriguing if rather stark and violent prologue, in the first chapter of Dan Brown’s Inferno, readers are greeted by a very confused Dr Robert Langdon; immediately readers are thrust into this latest fast-paced, nightmarish adventure. Having read many of Brown’s previous novels, being re-acquainted with Robert Langdon felt like meeting an old friend, familiar but new at the same time because it’s been a while. It was a lovely feeling which allowed me to immediately sink into the novel and I dare say other readers would feel the same.
Characters who initially suffer from amnesia or memory loss as Langdon does are fascinating, because there are endless scenarios, multiple possibilities which could explain how they came to be in that predicament. It is always an exciting adventure finding out exactly what happened; and in doing so Brown allows readers to indulge in making up their own answers, before the secrets are revealed. But of course painstakingly revealing secrets is Langdon’s (and therefore Brown’s) forte. Combine this literary technique with a rapidly changing pace and the inclusion of both long and short chapters, and you’ve got a novel which grips and pulls at a reader’s every sense and emotion.
As is my usual thoughts on Brown, Inferno is gripping, full of suspense, eloquently detailed (although some may feel it’s overly descriptive) and educational in a fun way. Art History has never been so appealing! In comparison to The Da Vinci Code I found Inferno somewhat darker in tone. This comes from the very nature of the possible impending threat, a topic which is very much at the fore front of the global political agenda, the nature of some of the characters and some quite shocking and stark violence within the pages. Whilst you hope never to be in Robert Langdon’s shoes, as a reader you get a thrilling and adrenaline-fuelled adventure to enjoy from your sofa, bed, bath or wherever!
In particular I must praise Brown for his ability to convey to the reader everything Langdon sees, hears and feels. There is a fluidity to the novel each revelation, clue cracked and new location appears sequentially with ease, again the change in pace and length of chapters assists with this. You do not merely have to be a spectator, Brown gives his readers the opportunity (through his literary prowess) to step into the novel and become Langdon, his companions and to an extent even his adversaries. Inferno is full of plot twists and turns, cliff-hangers and extremely detailed and intriguing back stories, for characters whose role in the novel is often not fully explained or understood; until it is revealed at the very end. The deceptions revealed in chapters 81 and 82 in particular I found truly astounding- I never saw them coming! At one point I was so stunned I closed my book and just thought about what I had just read. The level of thought put into the concoction of deceptions such as Brown’s; if they truly exist in the world well… but each reader will make of that what they will, but it makes for very gripping and very entertaining reading
There is some repetition within the novel, and at times the amount of paragraphs given to describing the numerous places and countries Inferno involves can be distracting from what is an otherwise a well-established plot. One does wonder how much of the description is for the scriptwriters of the film, and how much is for the actual readers.
Overall I think it’s a good addition to the adventures of Robert Langdon. Fans should find it enjoyable to read but also those just being introduced to Dan Brown’s novels will find they can equally enjoy the novel without needing to have read any of his previous books. Despite the numerous negative reviews out there this series will always be one of my favourites and I will continue to buy Brown’s novels, simply because of the experience I get when reading them.
© Gemma Feltham 15 June 2014