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."
My Review: I was EXTREMELY torn on how to review this book, because 50% of me absolutely loved it...and 50% of me disliked it a lot. I suppose I'll explain what I loved and what I disliked in order and go from there...
What I really liked: It's a Robert Langdon novel! What's not to love? I have read all of Dan Brown's novels and they're all always filled with thrills and adventure and mystery---and knowledge. If any of you have ever read my reviews for the Virals series by Kathy Reichs, you'll know how much I love when scientific or humanities knowledge is woven into a novel. It makes reading the book a more enriching experience. And the Robert Langdon novels always have double the amount of knowledge that Dan Brown's stand-alone novels do. I absolutely love art, I love history, and I love Europe---so it stands to reason that reading the Robert Langdon novels stuffed full of art, history, secret societies, mysterious plots, and dangerous adventure takes me to a higher place.
In this aspect, Inferno was---as all the previous Robert Langdon novels have been---great. I learned a ton of new knowledge about Dante Alighieri, who's always fascinated me. The setting, Florence, was beautiful, as are all the Italian locations that Dan Brown uses. But an even BETTER surprise was when Dan Brown suddenly switched the setting over to Turkey. The Middle East is a place of many beautiful countries and locations and areas of great history and culture, so I was thrilled to see Dan Brown take Robert Langdon out of Europe (or...cliche Europe) and to a whole new setting. I hope that more Robert Langdon novels take place in this region in the future, as the Middle East has TONS of history and art, as does Asia and Africa.
Now for the bad. It was the SAME. Forgive me, but it seems that Dan Brown has found a formula that worked well for his first few books and keeps using it...and it's getting boring. How many times can Robert Langdon just get "accidentally pulled" into a dilemma before it becomes unbelievable? And it always follows the same story arc: Robert Langdon finds himself in a situation where he has no idea what the hell is going on, meets a beautiful and sexy scientist/physicist/historian/some sort of official, they both go on the run from the authorities and solve numerous clues related to art and history, and manage to save the planet in the nick of time from some secret organization. COME ON, DAN BROWN. Get creative. Do something different for once.
Another thing that seriously bothered me---and has been bothering me for a while---is his treatment of females. He always makes them brilliant and smart, which is great...but he also always makes them thin, impossibly gorgeous, slightly damaged (so that, of course, they're vulnerable deep down), and he always makes them A) the sidekick, and B) fall in love with Robert by the end of the book...even though Robert---the eternal bachelor---is always the one to pull away and leave, leaving the woman saying something mushy like, "But will I ever see you again?" or "Try to visit me sometime." GIVE. ME. A. BREAK. Would it kill Dan Brown to write about a brilliant female who's NOT totally gorgeous and thin? Or about a female who's already in a relationship? Or about a female who has NO INTEREST in Robert, for once? Or a female who's not totally The Sidekick? *Extreme rage face*
And the last thing that made me dislike the book...and I realize that this point may not apply for everyone...was that the plot this time wasn't very complex or creative or well-thought-out. In the previous Robert Langdon books, I was always very shocked and stunned when I finally figured out the main dastardly evil plot---but in Inferno, it was pretty basic and I figured it out in just a few chapters. It's pretty obvious. And that kind of ruined the book for me, because it wasn't as intriguing or mysterious as it could have been.
At the end of the day, it was a fun and adventurous Robert Langdon read that I enjoyed because these books always fascinate me---but with a few notable flaws that hopefully Dan Brown will choose to fix in his next adventure.
Cover: I actually got this book while I was on vacation in Pakistan, so I don't have the American cover...but I actually prefer this cover to the American one. The American cover is kind of ugly, in my opinion. I like the color of my copy's cover and I like that they show the golden dome, which MIGHT be one of the mosques that Dan Brown mentioned in Inferno (or it might not---but I'm going to choose to see it as a mosque).
Overall Grade: B+