Burning in Inferno
Dan Brown is one of the most famous writers from the past two decades. His books have sold millions of copies around the world. Why is that? Because he fulfils people’s craving for myths and monsters. He includes a certain set of components in his books, such as art history, religion and conspiracies. In his latest novel, Inferno, he introduces a new and polemic issue, overpopulation, which shows Brown’s concern about the world’s current, or at least, imaginary but feasible situation. In spite of these facts, there is an unanswered question – who reads his novels? -. To my eyes, there are two types of readers, the average reader and the skilled one. Each group of readers is bound to react differently to a book like Inferno.
The average reader would find the novel gripping after reading the crazily grandiose prologue and the final step into the abyss. The action-packed scenes would oblige the reader to bury himself in the book, which would make it a page-turner. Around 400 pages further, he would reflect on the implications of the virus in Inferno and may agree with Zobrist and Sienna.
On the other hand, the skilled reader will perceive things differently. He may notice that the book is written as if it were a movie script – Brown may have thought his novel would be adapted to a movie, which is true, it will -. This change of genre results in the book being organised in scenes rather than proper chapters, which will, in turn, confuse the reader and make him lose sight of what is happening in the characters’ lives. Another issue to notice is that the antagonists are meant to be elite assassins and yet in the very first chapters, Vayentha unfolds her gun in public and starts shooting at people in a futile attempt to find Langdon. Also, the whole story occurs in around three days, but the characters travel thousands of miles, solve hundreds of riddles no one could manage to in a lapse of five centuries and they still have time to contemplate pieces of artwork.
As a skilled reader, I find some storytelling devices Brown strives to use successfully but he doesn’t accomplish his goals, since his ambitions wildly exceed his abilities. The first and most irritating one is the “little detail” device, where Langdon loses his Mickey Mouse wristwatch and he longs for it until he gets it back in the very end which makes him smile – a little bit -. Nevertheless, Brown does convey this device where the last word of the epilogue is “stars”, the same the great writer Dante Alighieri uses to end his stanzas. Another non-accomplished device is the change of antagonists, where the “bad guys” tell the truth and they turn out to be the “good guys”. This twisted twist does not make sense, yet the average reader may be flabbergasted.
All in all, the book is well-written but it will never become a classic. If the person reading it is an average reader, he may find the novel very interesting, especially if he loves art in general. On the other hand, if the person reading it is a skilled reader, he may find the novel entertaining but the abuse of clichés and the failure to use of some storytelling devices might also make him lose his head and finally “see stars”.