The reasons to read a Dan Brown novel are as follows:
1. The man has a snappy prose style with short chapters that end in cliffhangers.
2. Even if the story being told is obviously hogwash, it’s clear he had fun telling the story, and you’ll have fun reading it if you let go of the fact that his “research” his half-baked.
3. It’s important to know what’s in the book in order to refute it.
I can honestly say that none of these reasons apply to Inferno. Brown’s prose style is still intact, but there’s nothing snappy about it this time through. It feels almost apologetic. Almost.
To his credit, the villain of the story is the most terrifying one he’s come up with to date. Pity he commits suicide right at the beginning of the story. What follows is a steaming pile of manure, the stench of which will carry you only as far as you can stomach it. For myself, I got maybe 3/5 of the way in. Robert Langdon is very clearly a Gary Stu character and always has been. Note the lack of description involved. This time around, he’s got amnesia, which enables the reader to feel justified in being lost right along with him. As the clues are followed, the bigger picture is revealed, right? Not quite. In this one, you’re literally beaten over the head with the bigger picture mercilessly. That’s the headache you feel long before you hit the halfway point, and that’s why I finally stopped when I did.
The ambition of the story is actually pretty cool. The thing is, ambition far exceeds ability, and this book literally feels like a bad Hollywood pitch than a good novel. I hope it fails big when it hits the big screen too. I can honestly say this will be the last Dan Brown novel I ever read. Life’s too short, and there are too many better books.