Review on Inferno by Dan Brown

Summary:

Renowned Harvard Symbologist, Robert Langdon is thrown headlong into a maze built by elements of Dante’s Inferno. Suffering from retrograde amnesia, Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence with no recollection of how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object found hidden in his belongings.  He struggles to make sense of the situation he is in, there are so many unanswered questions starting with why is someone trying to kill him?

Accompanied by a doctor, Sienna Brooks, he begins on a race to save himself. Halfway through the race he realizes that the danger is to mankind as a whole.  He follows the trail of breadcrumbs left by a sinister adversary into his familiar land of codes,and history. His race takes him to Venice, and from there to Istanbul.

Langdon grapples with time to avert a catastrophe that will change mankind forever.    The answer to the question “Does he reach the finish line on time?” forms  the climax.

Remarks:

This is the quintessential Dan Brown novel. As the Robert Langdon series goes, this  novel follows a set pattern of a highly gifted protagonist  following the trail of breadcrumbs left by a psychotic adversary. The novel is a fine melange of paintings, codes, ancient architecture, and even science (which is the perfect Robert Langdon formula).

The  prologue is written in the first person, the rest of the story is told by an omniscient narrator.

The book focuses on certain aspects of the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy- Inferno like death masks, ten-tiered system of hell,etc.

Langdon is a character that people easily warm up to: compassionate genius, and a great teacher. He is a perfect character without any faults (which is difficult to believe in the case of a real person) but with stark  characteristics :  suffering from claustrophobia, and gifted with an eidetic memory.

Sienna Brooks is a bold female character who accompanies Langdon in his quest to save the world. She is completely full of surprises that I would have named her “Surprise” than “Sienna”.

In Brown’s books, the characters are not important the plot is. So the two main characters aren’t profound.

The historical references made in this book are not as jaw-dropping as the ones in Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. The landmarks mentioned in the book are alien to me, the recurrence of the names are annoying in a way that readers who aren’t familiar with  the places  in the book wish the whole plot was set in a more familiar place. But  one can’t help overlook the relevance of the places in the plot.

Brown’s books are always well researched, the descriptions of paintings, and architecture are impeccable. Brown usually includes  powerful organizations that existed or exists, here the organization is “The Consortium”.
The name of the organization has been changed on account of security reasons.

A quote from Dante’s Inferno is the epigraph.
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”
 The meaning of this quote becomes clear only after you turn the last page of the novel. The novel ends with the same quote, the words sinking into your mind and preparing you to take a stand in times of moral crisis.
This book does not reach the standards of the Da Vinci Code or the Angels and Demons, but is a lot better than The lost symbol. it is a gripping piece of fiction that bombards the reader with surprises at every turn. So go ahead, pick this book up.
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The summer before the dark: A review

The ”Summer Before The Dark” is a novel about a  series of events that unfold one summer. The protagonist is a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Kate Brown. She is the ideal homemaker-responsible, sensible and patient. Beneath her calm demeanour, there simmers a disturbed mind that craves for attention. She is dissatisfied with her life being tossed around by her children and  her husband. She thirsts for freedom from her  wifely obligations.

The decision she takes one summer pulls her along a completely unexpected mental and physical journey. That summer her husband and her daughter go to America, and her two boys go on pleasure trips of their own. The Brown family  rents their house. As a favour to  her husband’s friend she joins Global Food, an organization that deals with tackling food-related problems globally, as a translator. There she is a rising star, the perfect advisor to her colleagues. At Global Food she is thanked and sought after unlike  how she is treated in her house. She enjoys her new job,and the flamboyant yet organized atmosphere of her workplace. She becomes so good at her job that she is promoted and her tenure in the organization is extended.

After a period of time she leaves Global Food and plunges into an affair with a younger man named Jeffrey. They visit Spain. There Jeffrey falls ill, and  Kate stays by him more out of maternal affection than out of anything else. In her lover’s company, she unknowingly reminisces about her married life and realizes that she has turned a blind eye on all her wishes. Soon  she falls ill,and the only choice she has is to return to London. There she stays in a hotel  feeling feverish and delirious. She is bedridden for days. The bitterness she  has towards her family and the illness addles her mind, and she is on the verge of losing her sanity.This is reflected by her behaviour at a theatre: she loudly comments and scoffs at the performance of the actors and becomes a nuisance  both to the audience and the actors.  The money she  received as payment for her job at Global Food starts disappearing and she finds that she has to search for a less expensive place  to stay.

Kate comes across a small house owned by an eighteen year old girl named Maureen. Th girl is a complete opposite to Kate: wild, independent, and reckless. Kate occupies a room in the house as a lessee. She and Maureen quickly develop a friendship. Kate talks freely about her husband and her children. Even though she is far away from home she takes the role of Maureen’s mother, and advises her on various things. One night when a party is going on in the house she realizes that she can’t stay with Maureen forever and quietly slips out of the house.

Kate  might seem like an ordinary  middle-aged woman, but some thoughts that find their way to her head makes her different at the same time. A break from her routine life made her realize the dull, pointless life she was leading. Kate is not a pleasant character despite the fact that she is the victim here. Her life is not fictional, she represents the lives of many women neglected and ignored by their family. For her, looking good is imperative; her flaming red hair and her pale face is her pride. When she falls ill, she becomes a gaunt, frail woman with a mass of frizzy hair, people barely glance at her, it was though she were invisible. The fact that people were not turning their heads to look at her grieves her.The reader  feels Kate’s insecurity when she is robbed of her looks.

Resentment she has towards her family, the change  into an ugly duckling, the illness, and the  unexpected break in her monotonous life all drives her to the point where sanity and insanity cannot be distinguished.  The time she has with Maureen lets her retrace her steps back into sanity. It is kind of ironical that Kate wishes to got back to  her family, the same family who stifled her and took her for granted.  Maybe Kate is a person who cannot imagine a life without them however disregarding they are to her.