Recap: Yet another thriller following symbologist Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol), yet another adventure in history and European traveling. But unlike the books that came before it, in Inferno, Robert Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy with no understanding of why he’s there, no recollection of how he got there. He is suffering from amnesia. But a woman with a gun, the murder of a doctor within the hospital where he’s recovering, and a chase force the famous Harvard professor to figure out quickly.
With clues referencing the classic piece of literature Dante’s Inferno, Langdon travels through three European cities to uncover a specific location, while also trying to recover his memory of the last two days. Along the way, he learns that the enemy-at-large and maniacal genius, Bertrand Zobrist, has created a plague and plans to release it within the next 24 hours. Now Langdon must locate the spot where Zobrist will release it. Concerned about world overpopulation, Zobrist believes killing off much of the population with this plague would allow the rest of the world’s people to live forever, rather than becoming extinct.
But without his memory, and with some of his friends dead, Langdon doesn’t know who to trust, how to solve this puzzle or if he’s going to be able to do it in time.
Analysis: In Inferno, author Dan Brown does what he does best — brings an age-old story into modern times and somehow twists it into a matter of life and death. I don’t know how, but I fall for it every time. In this case, the tale is Dante’s Inferno. But Brown’s overall story goes deeper. Brown’s Inferno adds the real-life issue of world overpopulation, forcing us to think about our own world problems. It made me wonder if Bertrand Zobrist, as crazy as he is, was right to invent something, anything that would solve the problem that currently looms over us.
Brown also adds the layer of Robert Langdon’s memory loss. Langdon is used to solving puzzles with his symbology degree and experience. But here, he must also solve the puzzle of why he’s in Italy and how he got there. His brain must work doubly as hard in what seems like the least amount of time possible to stop the plague from getting out.
The only real issue with the novel is that at the end, after solving one puzzle, the other unanswered questions are not solved by Langdon and his companions. They are simply answered by the enemy, who gives up information when a guilty conscience strikes — a seemingly lazy use of deus ex machina.
MVP: Robert Langdon. Ultimately, he saves the day. As always. Yes, he has help. Yes, he’s given information to fill in some of the blanks. But without his intellect and knowledge of history, literature, and symbols, his team wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task at hand.