Ever since Angels n Demons and Davinci Code, Dan Brown has become a cult of his own. He could undoubtedly lay claim for starting a new genre of fiction - religious symbolism based thrillers. Apart from the Robert Langdon series, his other two novels - Digital fortress and Deception point hardly made the kind of bubble that made "brand Brown". Of the two Digital fortress atleast has a decent first half. Deception point is total crap.
After his last novel, Lost symbol, I was totally disappointed. Padichathu ennamo onlinela thaan..irunthaalum...felt cheated with the ending. It was a 600 plus page thriller with so many twists and turns and was one helluva ride. But felt the ending totally screwed it up. It read more like a prayachitham for Davinci code. But then atleast it felt a good read till climax. But unlike Lost symbol, Inferno is a huge let down right from the start.
The first few pages bear the hallmark of any Dan Brown novel and form the crux of things to follow. As usual someone dies in a weird manner. And more often than not, the dead person's past deeds would come to haunt the whole wide world is the theme of this one too. But the similarities stop right there. Like all Dan Brown stories, this one too has strong tie ups to a classic from the renaissance era - Dante's Inferno. But unlike the previous stories, which were loaded with case studies of interesting research and historical anecdotes, this one reads half cooked. The all powerful villain who is another highlight on the previous novels is a huge let down in this one, for he is actually the saviour, whose ends are noble but means aren't.
Overpopulation is the theme of this novel. Which in itself is more "Robin Cook"ian or "Michael Crichton"ian than "Dan Brown"ish. The way the villain argues for wiping of a third of world population and the alarming figures that the characters quote barely scratch the fear surface. The spook element from his other famous novels is missing in this and almost 75% of the novel serves as a tour guide to few streets in Florence and Venice. The entire premise sounds like, Dan Brown travelled to these two cities and found the tourist inflow irritating and all the famous scenic spots overcrowded and presto...he got his idea for Inferno. Whatever he jotted down as must see places in those two cities, he filled the gap with the standard Robert Langdon running for his life chase sequence with some lady love and thus came Inferno into being. Typical template story.
With James Rollins and Mathew Reilly eating into his realm with more gusto, Brown better reinvent himself with a different genre.
Gils Verdict - Inferno - Dormant.