Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Posted July 19, 2013 by Debby in Reviews / 9 Comments

Book Review: Inferno by Dan BrownInferno by Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #4
Published by Doubleday on May 14th, 2013
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 463
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

‘Seek and ye shall find.’

With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.

A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.

With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…

Set against an extraordinary landscape inspired by one of history’s most ominous literary classics, Inferno is Dan Brown’s most compelling and thought-provoking novel yet, a breathless race-against-time thriller that will grab you from page one and not let you go until you close the book.

2.5 Stars

*sigh* Inferno… There were good parts and there were bad parts. To be fair, Dan Brown delivers with another thrilling story that his true fans will love. However, it is not his best novel by any means. The most telling sign of that is that it took me about a month to finish reading this book. Now I love Dan Brown, for the most part. Angels & Demons is one of my favorite books ever and I really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code as well. However, The Lost Symbol disappointed me, I just felt it was very boring. Luckily, Inferno is better than The Lost Symbol, but that wasn’t too hard to accomplish. I worry though that the conspiracy-driven thriller plot has been worn out.

Inferno opens differently than the other novels in the series in that Robert Langdon wakes up with amnesia. He has lost the past few days and finds himself in Florence, Italy, with only a vision telling him to “seek and find”. He begins deciphering clues, as per usual, and gets caught up in a conspiracy revolving around Dante’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy). However, him losing his memory was ultimately my biggest problem with this book. It had an extremely slow start, mostly because Langdon is lost himself, questioning everything, trying to remember. This then comes paired with a bunch of flashbacks as well, later in the novel, when they start revealing what exactly happened that he forgot. And then because of Dan Brown’s tendency to write from multiple points of view when necessary, different characters had slightly different flashbacks that overlapped and… it felt like the story was completely being stretched too much and it was kind of over done. It was just exhausting, because with such an action-driven story, you want to move forward, and not keep looking back.

The actual conspiracy here was extremely intriguing, though. I love Dan Brown’s ability to create a complex villain, who tries to accomplish something that we perceive as evil but from that character’s view point with his principles, it could also be right. His ability to dive into the psyche of such characters is ultimately, I think, what will keep me buying his books. The involvement of Inferno and The Divine Comedy was brilliant. It’s really inspired me to make sure I read it at some point. I love the history of the poem, the art built up around it, the symbolism… It’s absolutely beautiful.

And another strength, of course, is that this book takes place in Italy. I love Dan Brown’s descriptions and I’m in love with Italy, so this just made me want to go back there sometime really soon and explore the streets of Florence and Venice again. I also absolutely loved how much Italian was in the book – short phrases which are immediately translated, so it’s not confusing. I actually ended up just reading them aloud because it looked so beautiful on the page and… okay, I want to learn Italian at some point so badly. tl;dr: I love Italy and Dan Brown totally exploited that.

While the beginning dragged and dragged until I put the book down for two or three weeks (yeah), the last third or quarter really kept me going when I got back into it. It was action packed. There were plot twists almost every other page or something at one point, and I was just constantly surprised. I mean, people you thought were good turned out to be bad, people you thought were bad turned out to be good, and then it gets like another layer above that. So the last third just reminded me of the kind of spark and addictive quality that first attracted me to Dan Brown in Angels & Demons.

The ultimate ending of the book, however, was a bit of a disappointment. It was a new, different kind of ending, and I respect the originality of it, and the fact that it’s not always happily ever after. But even so, the ending just felt very unresolved. And that I don’t like.

Summing Up:

I think, looking back on Inferno, I’ll more likely remember the struggles in the first half of the book than how impressed I was with the second half. However, it was still a good, highly entertaining read. It’s not Dan Brown’s best – so if you’re new to him, I would still advise you to read Angels & Demons first. But, especially for lovers of Italy like me, this has enough substance to keep you entertained. So I’m a bit mixed.

GIF it to me straight!


There’s another layer.

Recommended To:

Die-hard fans of Dan Brown and lovers of complex villains, conspiracies, and Italy.

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9 responses to “Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

  1. achoquet

    I've read both the Da Vinci Code and the Lost Symbol, but not Angels & Demons! Huh, wonder how that happened. It's been a while (and my book amnesia is horrible) so I can't say whether I loved them or not, but I think overall I've always enjoyed his work. It's definitely different than the YA I'm used to! This one does sound like one I wouldn't like though. I find that flashbacks in novels through me off for the most part, and interrupt with the flow of the story in my mind. While I understand why they get used and how they can help add to a story, they just never quite sit right with me. And this sort of sounds all over the place with them. But, I will say this review makes me want to read Angels & Demons, however that works. It seems to be one you definitely like, and I want to see why! I'll have to check it out sometime 😀
    My recent post Bookish Review: Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

  2. Aww man you're truly missing out then with Angels & Demons xD And I totally get it, I praise the crap out of that book all the time, including in this review. It's just so asdjfkl; awesome. Have you seen the movie?

    I totally agree, excessive flashbacks are a stumbling block for me. I mean one or two to truly give some background to a story? Fine. But it was definitely all over the place here and it took way too long to move past the flashbacks and get to the present-time action. *sigh* Sad. That could have been executed much better. Because Langdon having amnesia wasn't interesting anymore – it was just annoying and exhausting.

  3. We have the same thoughts about his books! Angels and demons is my favorite one, The Da Vinci code is very good, but The lost symbol was disappointing. I'm sorry to hear that this one wasn't SO good. I agree about his villains, I always like how he creates them. And being in Italy definitely makes me crave for a book that takes place in this beautiful country <3 Such a shame about the ending though, I hate those unresolved conclusions.
    My recent post Review 175. Cassandra Rose Clarke – The assassin’s curse.

  4. YAY 😀 Glad to see I'm not alone in my love for Angels & Demons <3 that book is just awesome. I could reread it over and over again. Will you still read this one? I mean, the depiction of Italy alone may make it worth it for you 🙂

  5. Tania Stanwood

    I like all of Brown's books. He has a real handle on what he writes about and that makes him a better author due to his crediblity, and those are my favorite kinds of novels. I am into White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy by Paul Mark Tag, he worked for the Naval Research Lab for a long time and his knowledge comes through in his work and he writes so well becuase of it! That works for great books by great authors. paulmarktag.com is info on that book and Tag.

  6. Yes! I love the action in these books, it gives them this un-put-downable quality. I hope you like Inferno if you get around to it 🙂

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