With June nearly up, I think it’s about time we talk about my book of the month. I realized that many of the books I’ve read this year are biographies (See examples with my January and March reads), but with my June book, this was not the case. From from it actually – June’s choice was pretty far from realistic.
I’ve always been a fan of mystery novels. Even as a young child, I chose Nancy Drew over The Babysitter’s Club, so it comes as no surprise that I gravitate towards Dan Brown’s works. No, he’ll never be considered a literary great, but his books are entertaining, exciting, and full of information (I like to think that even a fictional read can teach me something new). The same holds true of his latest book, Inferno.
The fourth in the series (preceded by The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol), Inferno continues to follow the life of renown Harvard professor and symbologist Robert Langdon, this time all the way to Florence, Italy, where Langdon mysteriously wakes up in a hospital…with no memory of how he got there or what had happened. He must piece together the mystery all while being pursued by an assassin sent by a sketchy international organization that does rich people’s dirty work.
As with the previous books, Robert Langdon is confronted with some sort of puzzle he must solve, using symbols and ancient history to piece together clues. In Inferno, Langdon uses Dante’s famous poem “The Divine Comedy” as a map that guides him to discover the intentions of the book’s evil villain, a “mad scientist” with some radical views on world population and Earth’s sustainability. With the help of his female sidekick/”love interest”, Sienna Brooks, Langdon uncovers clue after clue, until reaching the book’s climax where everything unravels. I refuse to tell you more because then I’ll just keep talking, and the book will be ruined. But there are some good plot twists, and lots of history (I promise it’s told in a fascinating way – not as boring and monologue-y as some of Brown’s previous books) that make the read worthwhile.
When I was looking through other reader reviews before purchasing Inferno, I was slightly hesitant because there were a lot of negative ones, saying that this was Brown’s worst book yet and that the predictability was off the charts, but honestly, I saw none of that. Sure, I always find it a little humorous that Robert Langdon knows all the escape routes and hole-in-the-wall hiding spots (seriously, what employed individual has enough time to travel and explore cities that meticulously), but the book did a great job serving its purpose – providing me hours of entertainment and keeping me guessing right to the very end. Plus, some of the implications discussed in this book really make you think hard about the finite state of our planet and its resources. And the comparisons made between present day, and Dante’s Inferno are quite interesting. But, more than anything, I really enjoyed this book because I’ve actually spent time in Florence, so I loved that I could actually visualize the landmarks and destinations that Brown wrote about.
I would give this book an A (but I’m not a tough grader, or a picky reader). Should you read it? Sure – Inferno makes for an enjoyable beach read and a nice way to pass these long, scorching Texas summer days. I especially recommend it to those who enjoy being whisked away to far off lands, and reading a fast-paced page turner that’s difficult to put down. The book may be more than 500 pages, but I found myself staying up late and getting up early just to get in a few extra pages, and ended up finishing the book in less than 4 days (it was supposed to last me the entire month of June, mind you). Despite what other reviewers have to say, I enjoyed it…a lot, and am ok admitting that I’m already excited for Dan Brown’s next book to come out. I can only imagine the kinds of situations Langdon will find himself in next, particularly since the man isn’t getting any younger…he can only run from trouble for so long.