After fifth Robert Langdon adventure, Origin, is out!

Though adept in detailing elements of his narrative, he fails in making them thrilling enough to keep the reader hooked to an extended period of time. His are not ‘read in one sitting’ books anymore. You can visit a particular segment on any given day and can revisit the next pages, probably after two days, without feeling a hangover of the story. Yes, a thrilling work must create its hangover in the psyche of its readers.

A direct fallout of that is the perception being built around length of his adventure tales – yes, they are basically the adventure tales but lack the charisma that makes adventure tales memorable experiences, be it The Lord of the Rings or Alice in Wonderland or even Harry Potter. A 500 pages Dan Brown book can essentially wind up in 100 pages and mind you, most people do like that, even his fans. Apart from few discernible readers, no one bothers to go for and in between the lines to know the semiotics of symbols or architectural details of buildings. If needed, Google and Wikipedia do much better job at this.

Dan Brown is not an avant-garde writer and Robert Langdon is not an avant-garde character. The concoction of religion, atheism and modernity that he presented in The Da Vinci Code in 2003 has seen a consistent downward slope. The Da Vinci Code presented a worn-out subject in a new, if not fresh, flavour and people accepted it, creating a fan base for Brown’s works. But since then, it has always been an ‘I thought so’ journey with his books. One can easily guess where the plot is going. And moreover, he is sounding repetitive and thus boring.





Good use of the text of Dante’s Inferno: I had not read it and there will be many other readers of Dan Brown’s Inferno who are yet to read or have no plans to read Dante’s seminal Inferno (of The Divine Comedy). It was not on my reading list in the foreseeable future. And though it didn’t push creating an urge, the detailed mention of the work did push me to take Google’s help. After reading the novel, I have done my share of research and intend to read more of The Divine Comedy.

It is still a good read: Reading a book is not just a time-pass. If seen logically and on a mature note, it is one of those better investments of your time that enriches your experience, a time given that widens your span of thinking. (Okay, I am not talking here of the cheap literature.)  On this scale, Dan Brown’s Inferno is a good read. Though you don’t jump over the prospects of the page-turners as you turn-over the pages, still, you can maintain a consistent pace of reading.

It is about a good beginning: The gentleman with a knack for getting into troubling environs of mystery and mysterious intellect gets hospitalized with serious head-injury and an assassin in pursuit and to compound the misery, the gentleman suffers amnesia that leaves him without any memory of his current situation – an apt beginning of a thriller pushing the reader to think of something complex and disturbing coming ahead and so pushing him to know more – that is a good enough beginning to sustain for the whole reading length in spite of the book not being an edgy thrilling saga.

It is not dogmatic/describing about religion: Though weaved around the Symbology of a heavily religious work, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Dan Brown smoothly manages to keep away the religious underpinnings in his Inferno much in the same way he has done in his earlier works. His use of the religious or cultural or historical Symbology remains like an objective reading of an existing text.

Some good character development: Though Robert Langdon is not as sharp as he was in ‘Angels & Demons’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’, the characters of Sienna Brooks and Bertrand Zobrist stand out and carry the plot on their shoulders smoothly. The predicament and emotional quotient of Sienna Brooks touches the heart while Bertrand Zobrist’s character background and his radical views on an issue (overpopulation) so regularly discussed pushes one to think. The reader wants to know what happens to them. The reader thinks on what happened to them.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


It is not about Robert Langdon: I found characters SiennaBrooks and Bertrand Zobrist the principal protagonists holding the story in a better way than the main series protagonist of the story, the Harvard symbologist Robert Landon. They push the story and Langdon carries the supportive role.

It is not a one-sit read: A good read but not as riveting a work to make you pick the book and deliberately push other engagements to finish it first.

It is a thriller but not a racy thriller: The hard-bound edition that I went through, the one that has over 400 pages, had very few page-turners, certainly not enough to push the reader to continue with the book suspending every other activity of the time. The plot has very few hair-raising twists and one can easily see the time lapsing.

It is not about unexpected twists and turns: As the story begins, if you are a discernible reader and have read Dan Brown earlier, you start sensing the turn of events that the author tries to make the ‘twist points’ in his story. And all through the work, a well defined sense of ‘predictability’ flows regularly. It was a similar problem area with Dan Brown’s previous book ‘The Lost Symbol’.

Characterization of one the main protagonists, Sienna Brooks, gives it all in the very beginning and as the story progresses, soon it becomes clear what we are going to have about her in the final outcome.

The main plot element of bioterrorism becomes very clear in the beginning. That may be what Dan Brown might have intended but furthering it with symbological elements of architecture and with themes in Dante’s Inferno doesn’t go too well with the plot development. Yes, its finality of emerging as an unorthodox solution to contain the ‘pandemic of the overpopulation’ does ring some bells but doesn’t hold the ground well as it becomes too late by the time the reader comes to know about it to give it a thought as a serious climactic plot element.

The climax doesn’t hold for the whole body of the work: The way things boil down so soon to a ‘positive apocalyptic periphery’ leaves a lot to be desired. The dilution of the provost’s equity, from an all powerful manipulator to some small-time crook in the last of the story, is totally anti-academic. The place of the creation of the ‘final solution’ by Bertrand Zobrist and the dramatization of the plot elements about it and the event don’t gel with the character development of Zobrist. The only saving grace here is the segment specific character shades of Sienna Brooks.

‘The Lost Symbol’ too, was similarly squeezing on the detailing in the story climax.

It doesn’t push to know more: Like other Robert Langdon starrers, this too, has a plot of few hours focusing largely on extensive detailing of a geographic locality, in this case, two main Italian cities, Florence and Venice. But what I found this time, the architectural and semiotic detailing sounded more like a ‘filling’ in the whole body of the work than being the inherent part of the plot elements.

This creates a sort of detachment and pushes one to scan the segments (and not serious reading) that contain such detailing. Dan Brown’s earlier works prompted people to do some earnest googling about plot elements and themes like symbolism, Symbology, Leonardo da Vinci, The Louvre, The Vatican, Freemasonry and so on but I could not find the similar urge with this work.

Have you read the book? What do you say about it?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/