Discussing “Inferno” by Dan Brown [CC Book Club]

Welcome back, bookworms! I hope you enjoyed our June read, Inferno by Dan Brown and are ready to discuss. The man behind The Da Vinci Code is back with this thriller that revolves around Florence, Italy and Dante’s Inferno, the literary classic about a trip through hell and back. As always, from this point forward SPOILERS will be present so read at your own risk!

Robert Langdon wakes up in a Florence hospital. He’s been shot in the head and is suffering from amnesia and is not even able to remember how he got from Harvard to Italy. He ends up running off with Dr. Sienna Brooks, who informs him that he is in danger. Through a series of strange events, Dr. Langdon realizes that he is carrying a modified version of Botticelli’s Map of Hell. From there on, the book assumes the typical Dan Brown scavenger hunt plot, slowly revealing more and more about the people after Langdon and his companion, Sienna. It all ends in Istanbul, where a mad scientist has released a population control agent that will render 1/3 of the world sterile and slow population growth. Of course, Langdon and his buddies try to stop it, but in a twist of events, they’re actually too late this time. The contagion is dispersed and spreads over the entire world before they even reach Turkey. The book ends rather strangely in that WHO is trying to come up with some solution, but most of the characters seem okay with the idea of nonvoluntary sterilization.

Well, this was a weird one. I loved The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons but found Inferno to be incoherent, tough to follow and often just plain boring. Robert Langdon seems old and rather unworthy of the pedestal Brown’s placed him on in the past. Sure, he knew a lot about art history, but the successes in Inferno seemed rather accidental. I also have a BIG issue with the ending. I appreciate that Robert Langdon can’t always save the day, but it was a bit of a letdown and it seemed like Brown was using his fame to spread a message about population control. It’s definitely not a bad message, but I don’t like when people use their fame to preach (let’s all recall Stephenie Meyer’s anti-abortion stance in Breaking Dawn). I felt that by having most of the characters appear ambivalent towards the contagion to be unrealistic and a clear ploy by Brown.

Of all Dan Brown’s novels, this was the worst. If you’re a Robert Langdon fan, just quit at The Lost Symbol. I felt like I didn’t learn nearly as much about history in Inferno as in his other novels, plus he wove in his personal morals, which I don’t agree with. If I was reading Dan Brown’s Issues with Population, perhaps I’d expect the preaching, but not in a fiction thriller.

What did you think of Inferno? Was the message as clear for you or am I just looking for a fight?

For next month, I’m going back to my old faithful YA fiction. Please join us for July’s CC Book Club pick: Divergent by Veronica Roth!

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