I love books that are full of intrigue, mystery, and suspense. Dan Brown is one of those authors who do this in the most clever way. Despite the letdown of “The Lost Symbol” (for me, at least), I still eagerly anticipated the release of Inferno a couple of weeks ago. So if there’s anything you need to know about this book, it’s this: Dan Brown redeemed himself a million times with this new book and every single page is worth devouring. Although certain allusions in the book sparked outrage among a lot of Filipinos, I think it’s important that one reads “Inferno” entirely in order to make an objective opinion. I will deal with that later on. Allow me first to give you a glimpse of Robert Langdon’s latest adventure while trying my best not to give any spoilers.
Amnesia in the midst of global crisis
Robert Langdon, famous American art historian and symbologist, woke up in Florence suffering from amnesia. He had no recollection of what happened to him the past couple of days. He was told by his doctor Sienna Brooks that he was shot in the head. As if this disorientation was not enough, Langdon found himself running for his life with a hired assassin trailing him eager to finish the job. The cat and mouse chase was further complicated with Langdon’s urgent mission which he could not remember. Brooks showed him a device which turned out to be a map that led to more disturbing clues. All of the symbols and road maps were patterned after Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno.”
Later on, Langdon discovered that he was sent to discover where a certain biological weapon was hidden which when unleashed could result in a global catastrophe. The exquisite beauty of Florence and Venice coupled with the magnificence of Istanbul made searching for answers more breathtaking and enigmatic in Dan Brown’s new book.
“Inferno” is the perfect blend of literature, art, and history made believable in fiction form. The timeless poetry of Dante was forged so well with the modern times which resulted in a haunting yet satisfying reading experience. Something that I missed in “The Lost Symbol” which I found again in “Inferno” was the unpredictability and edge-of-your-seat plots that truly captured my attention. Compared to his previous book which for me was just a bunch of compounded symbols waiting to be translated, “Inferno” has more depth and soul to it. It is more socially relevant, too, as it dealt with issues such as over population and shortage of resources.
I particularly like the intriguing premise of Langdon’s amnesia and his recurring visions. His supporting cast surprised me and made me gasp repeatedly. You know how it is when your mind just screams “What the?!?!” I experienced that many times and it is very gratifying for a reader like me! This book is very much reminiscent of “Angels and Demons” in terms of technique except that this one is better. Dan Brown used the right amount of intrigue to reel you in, the perfect dose of suspense to keep you hooked, and just the ample amount of pressure to urge you to finish it.
The Gates of Hell
Yes, the Philippines was mentioned in “Inferno” and the phrase “gates of hell” was stated in relation to it. However, you have to read the context when it was actually said by the character. Sienna Brooks, the female doctor I mentioned earlier, went on a humanitarian missions trip to the Philippines. She went to Manila where the city was accurately described by Dan Brown. She got overwhelmed by the number of people in the city particularly the poor and the hungry she was trying to help. She had a panic attack and ran as far as she could. Brooks ended up in a place, which we would most likely call as a “squatter’s area.” She was horrified to see the overlapping shanties, the poor living conditions, and the pungent smell of human excrement all over the place made her think, “I have entered the gates of hell.”
That being said, the allusion is but a mere reaction to what she saw which was seemingly a god-forsaken place. The conditions were so awful it seemed like she saw hell. The author did not refer to the entire country as the “gates of hell” per se. So chill, fellow countrymen. I suggest that you read the book in its entirety before passing judgment. It is too great a book to pass up just because opted you to listen to hearsay.
With that, I quote Dante and invite you to open the pages of “Inferno.”
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”