Sunday June 9, 2013

Inferno (Dan Brown)

Posted by Karthik

Inferno-cover3Much like Amish Tripathi’s Shiva series, I found the writing in Dan Brown’s Inferno appallingly bad. Most of his expressions are oddly repeated as if to state it with an air of finality… twice, in the expectation that we won’t get it the first time. But, again, much like Shiva trilogy, what kept me hooked was the actual plot.

For someone who hates crowds (I am perhaps in the wrong continent, with that hatred for crowds), the plot was wonderfully resonating. I’m sure the current members of the Transhumanist Movement may not like the way their ideology has been used in an extreme way in the plot, but the fact that the book introduces the movement is in itself a good deed.

Other usual tropes were less interesting, like Langdon pairing up with an attractive woman, yet again. As regular Dan Brown readers, you would easily smell the way people would eventually behave (later on; that is who is on which side) and those twists have stopped being twists anymore. That, except for the one involving Langdon’s retrograde amnesia, that is explained with a circuitous twist later.. and it feels very, very contrived!

The same problem exists with the generous Florence description and chase. Much like his earlier Langdon novels, Brown picks one city and places a large part of the story there, explaining it in mega detail, sometimes even sacrificing the flow of the plot. Open Magazine’s Manu Jospeh explains that rather well in his piece on the book.

A rare place a twist works really well is a flashback scene repeated twice. The first one feels really odd, given the genders involved and adds a new spin to the story. But, when it is repeated later, with the right context, I did feel that Brown had pulled this twist off really well!

And yes, the book’s third act, in another country, is very good! Thankfully, it is a new country (avoiding its name, since it could reduce the fun when you read it) and one that has an interesting connection with Florence and European history. The place where the climax is set is also a master stroke… the descriptions work wonders here. If a movie is made on this book, I’m sure this country (and its capital city) would gain enormously in terms of tourism (if it doesn’t, already).

Also, the end did not feel like a cop-out. It was something of an interesting and meaningful compromise, and quite in sync with the plot of the novel. I was half expecting a ‘…and they all lived happily every after!’ end, but thankfully, Brown offers something that works in both the protagonist and the antagonist’s side. That’s quite an achievement, in my opinion, and one that made the novel a worthwhile read.

I have a strong feeling that Brown wrote Inferno more as a film script than a novel. It feels so much like one. To be fair, it would surely make a good thriller. But not with Tom Hanks again, please. Please consider Clive Owen (barring the Brit accent) as Langdon and Rosamund Pike as Sienna Brooks! And Jean Reno as Christoph Brüder, by the way.

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