I finished Inferno today, and I have to say I am not as much pleased as I had expected of it. For me this probably is the longest I have taken a novel to finish. I generally don’t finish a book if I don’t like it, so don’t jump into conclusions yet!
One of the reasons why I like Dan Brown is because of his villains/antagonists. It is them who stream a lot of adrenaline in your nerves as you read his books. But sadly, Inferno doesn’t have one. This was a major turn off for me. There indeed was the usual chaos in the second half of the book, and it reminded me of Brown’s first book Digital Fortress wherein there was no strong villain and the story had failed to impress as much as a Da Vinci Code or a Lost Symbol. The skeleton of the plot is vaguely similar to Digital Fortress, with everybody running to save the world behind something that was created by a “visionary” who dies in the beginning of a story.
Normally, Dan Brown blends history, science, architecture and religion so elegantly in his novels. I personally think that this time that has not happened quite well. Dante’s Inferno and population control do not seem to relate well together. Inferno is about punishing the sinners with hell, and I did not see any sinners at all in the novel. Rather, one third of the entire world population was “blessed” with sterility.
There was one major difference as I was reading the climax of the story. Normally, the world at the beginning and the end of his novels remain the same in their states. Not here. And, he generally claims that except the story line, other references are real and they exist. I don’t think you feel so reading this. There is hardly any conspiracy at all.
It’s okay if he is trying something different: just like what JK Rowling is doing, but I don’t think he is. It felt like he has taken out an ingredient out of his master recipe instead of cooking up something new. And his usual lengthy description of history and symbols suddenly seemed a bit too much this time, and I suspect it has something to do with Inferno not being a conspiracy novel. Nevertheless, I rate the book 6 out of 10, as it did offer a good read in the second half with some twists and turns. I just hope Dan Brown goes back to his Da Vinci Code formula of conspiracies and strong villains in his next book.