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Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2014
In the acknowledgements of this book Dan Brown thanks a Dr for spending so much time with them bringing the cities art and architecture to life. You feel that he also owed thanks to every guide book going and Wikipedia.

I really struggled reading this book. For the first time in a very long time I nearly gave up two thirds of the way through. Dan Browns style has understandably been criticised in the past, but whilst not mind blowing I have enjoyed his previous outings, for what they are, an easy read to pass commutes, or an hour on the sofa, albeit in a seemingly decreasing manner.

Inferno is a whole different level. The actual plot of the book is weak and full of holes, but it could have been written into an enjoyable easy reading book, apart from constant and needless descriptions of art, history and location which completely destroyed any enjoyment.

I realise you want a bit of context and background to what is happening and that Dan Brown does more of this than most, but his sheer ingenuity of coming up with more reasons for Langdon to explain in such detail, the architecture or art etc to his accomplices is to be applauded. Oh, and when he can't think of a reason for Langdon to need to explain something, he just smirks inwardly and thinks it, or has a flashback to a previous visit/lecture, and you still get a page about something which in no way has anything to do with the plot.

Let's not even get started on starting another book by stating a 'fact' about an organisation that definitely does exist in the real world.

My last foray into Dan Brown's/Robert Langdon's world.

As others have posted. Would this book have been published if it was by a newcomer? I seriously doubt it would have got past a first read by any publisher.

Still, he's made a few quid by making what should be 20% of a book into a full one by intertwining it with tourist guides so fair play to him
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2013
As no big fan of Dan Brown, nevertheless I read all his books. I heard about his new book to be released soon and because "Divine Comedy" whose one part is Inferno is one of my favorite literary masterpieces all back from high school. So I was very curious about new Brown's book and read it quickly after its release.

We are all aware that critics but even his fans admit his prose style is simple and easy to read, and after big hype and greater success of each following title all feel there is nothing special about his books and their plots. But for sure they entertain people providing good mix of mystery, action and history which lot of people find appealing.

"Inferno" has all the elements of a vintage Dan Brown novel. There is an unexpected event happening in the prologue and the rest of the book explains what the cause of it was. Main familiar character, Professor Robert Langdon wakes up in an unknown place without being aware how he got there. As always there is beautiful, strong heroine Sienna who helps him. The law enforcement authorities and some strange people chase him across cities and countries. The action moves across all-known European locations like Florence, Venice, and Istanbul. There are lot of references in art, architecture, sculpture and history. Some of the information is used for solving challenges that Langdon and Sienna stumble upon. And of course as always in Brown's book there is a surprise ending.

Starting with good points, the action is fast paced, book is well researched, there is a lot of information on symbolism and history behind art and architecture, and the book gives a lot of information about Dante's "The Divine Comedy". Readers who never picked Dante's book would learn a lot about it from Brown's book. Probably the best thing at all would be the book ending although in one moment near book end something like that crossed my mind. It tied up nicely all the loose ends and although strange for Brown it was perfect.

Minus points goes to the storytelling which in `Inferno' is not as sleek as in `The Da Vinci Code'. There is a lot of information in the book about art and architecture, which has no relevance to the story. It seems like author wants us to impress with his research. At some point the story meanders on and on and in these moments probably some of readers with lack of patience (or time) would be on verge to put it down.

Putting all together, although I'm little bit subjective because of Dante theme I would recommend the book for everyone, for casual reading especially in these days of summer when somehow suits to read a book which in any time we can put off and/or resume reading. It is an easy and entertaining read, enjoy it.
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306 of 336 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2013
I actually wasn't going to buy Inferno given how woeful I considered The Lost Symbol to be; however, I received a copy of the book as a gift and plunged in, consuming the book in a matter of a couple of days. Whilst my earlier review of The Lost Symbol was quite positive in terms of what Brown was trying to do, large parts of my criticism of that book also apply here. The novel opens with an amnesiac Langdon waking up in a hospital room after apparently being shot in the head - we're not in Cambridge anymore Toto. I actually consider the opening of the book quite fresh; taking away Langdon's memory proves a successful literary technique for Brown, allowing him to effectively retrace Langdon's footsteps (and his own work in previous novels).

What follows is more of the same types of shenanigans we read about in Brown's previous efforts. There's a biological weapon (Angels & Demons), an assassin tracking Langdon (The Da Vinci Code), a litany of literary/art references (The Da Vinci Code) and a professor who seems far too in control. Part of what I loved about the early Langdon books was that they always showed Langdon as being out of his depth, a humble academic sucked into a situation he doesn't fully understand. He survived and saved the day through using his intellect and his instincts, making him a sort of bookish Indiana Jones. In short, he was a very good hero for the series. You'll note I'm using past tense for this; it's because he now has transformed into caricature. Everyone knows Langdon; museum curators, security guards, the Director of the World Health Organisation; basically wherever Langdon goes, he is known, accommodated, and assisted in his exploits. He isn't a man alone anymore, he's a man with a massive following and this is where the novel descends into the ring of Hell reserved for tired writers who rehash plots (Dante has a place for Brown, several actually, Circles 5, 8, and 9). Moreover, there isn't a building Langdon doesn't know in the novel; he's certainly quite the traveller, so much so that one wonders when he actually has time to write the books he's so famed for...

On the point of symbols, there aren't many. There's no deduction, there's no reasoning, there's just explanation after explanation of art, messages written in text which Langdon also knows all about. Due to the fact Langdon knows it all, and this does get rather annoying after a while, the reader is left with the distinct impression that they've read this novel before. In fact, we have. Several times. Brown's decision to give Langdon amnesia is actually very clever (or manipulative and devious) because it could be argued that the 'been here before' feeling one gets when turning the page is caused by Langdon's feeling of having been here before. However, I actually just think that Brown didn't have anything new to offer us and so he's rehashed old ideas whilst dressing them up as the déjà vu of an amnesiac.

The truly ridiculous part of the novel, however, is the WHO (World Health Organisation). I'm willing to accept that government agencies, global enforcement bodies etc. etc. are willing to consult academics from relevant fields when trying to assess threat levels. I'm willing to accept that such academics are in a privileged position to know things that others do not, thereby allowing them to play a pivotal role in helping avert disaster. What I am not willing to accept however, is that an organisation such as the WHO, or any other organisation for that matter, would entrust the mission of locating a biological weapon of mass destruction to a man who spends his life analysing symbols and obsessing about a Mickey Mouse watch he wears in order to not take himself so seriously. My hopes soared when the timepiece was lost but then, the Director of the WHO found it for him and returned it to his wrist, ready to tell time another day. I eye rolled here.

For me, the moment Langdon utters the words, as he does twice I believe, "It's a matter of life and death!" in the novel, I found myself rolling my eyes again. Langdon is an academic, not a field agent and yet the WHO were concerned when he stopped 'checking in' with them whilst in the field. Why was he in the field? Why are they trusting this man with anything beyond his area of expertise? Why did Dan Brown think this would fly? Oh the questions. Yet again Langdon is the ONLY one who can help. The ONLY one who knows. The ONLY one who can overcome a severe brain injury within hours and spend the rest of the novel running (not recommended as running increases blood pressure and could cause bleeding in the brain - not so for Langdon). In short, Robert Langdon is amazing. Too amazing. The more amazing he becomes, the more ridiculous the books become and, for me, we're really at critical mass in terms of the amazingness of Robert Langdon.

In my review of The Lost Symbol I wrote that Dan Brown has kind of exploited Langdon enough and should consider stopping writing him and move on to pastures new. With this novel, in my view, Dan Brown has made it clear that he should absolutely stop writing the character and move on. There's nothing new Langdon can do without the book either being so ridiculous it is caricature or so boring it becomes unreadable.

A quick word on Dan Brown's writing ability. Critical reviews of the book have focussed on the fact that Dan Brown isn't a tremendous writer. Let's be clear, he's not, but that doesn't matter. Just as a Michael Bay summer blockbuster will never be Citizen Kane, so too will a Dan Brown blockbuster never be able to accomplish the dizzy heights of Dumas, Brontë, Shakespeare or Proust. I don't expect Dan Brown to be an amazing writer because if he was the book would be an effort to read and that isn't what you need or want from a blockbuster. So whilst critics focus on Brown's inability to write brilliantly, I choose to largely ignore that because the book isn't intended to be a literary work of art. The skill is in the story, not the execution; it's just a shame that the story has been told before.

The book isn't bad, hence my three star rating, it's just overdone. Readers would probably get more out of reading The Da Vinci Code than reading the new novel and could actually get away with substituting The Last Supper in The Da Vinci Code and anti-matter in Angels & Demons with Dante's Inferno and still have read the new book; after all, that's essentially what Dan Brown has done in order to write it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2013
Unfortunately found this to be a very frustrating read. Whilst the plot wasn't too bad, the constant need to give a little tidbit of information about this or that tourist trap led to the novel reading more like a guide book. Ultimately, if you were to take out the long, drawn out descriptions of this or that statue, the plot would likely only take up a quarter of the number of pages. I've seen filling before in a number of books, but this was really pushing the limits.

I've enjoyed Dan Browns earlier novels but felt it began to slip with The Lost Symbol and further still with Inferno. Often found myself thinking that Brown was hoping to recreate the tourism hype as was seen in the Da Vinci code. The plot itself wasn't awful but far from being above average. Robert Langdon is fast becoming the Indiana Jones of symbolism although with some of his escapades you feel he perhaps missed his calling as a super spy or general super hero.

Disappointing. Requires more focus on plot, less on tourism.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2013
As a tourist guide, Dan Brown's Inferno surpasses Fromers any day. Anything you ever wanted to know about Florence and Venice is described in brilliant detail, leaving nothing to the imagination. As a gripping yarn, however, Inferno is miles off course. It's riddled with repetition, leaving readers with the distinct impression that Mr. Brown was struggling to find content for the publisher. Without wishing to ruin the story for fans of Dan Brown, the plot follows Robert Langden's efforts to thwart a mad scientist hell bent on infesting the human race with an ingenious pandemic virus. The plot twists here, vaults there and re-writes itself more than once. Inferno is a far cry from Dan Brown's earlier efforts, making me wonder if his writing career has peaked early.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2013
Like many others I found the De Vinci code a brilliant book and I loved Angels and Demons even more. I even found the Lost Symbol enjoyable but not up to the previous two. I eagerly awaited Inferno, but I found this to be a massive let down. I would estimate that almost half of the books content has been given over to location description, which, though interesting to read, had nothing material to contribute to the plotline, and could almost be seen as a cynical attempt to beef out the page count. At several stages, I found myself skipping paragraphs(something I have never done before with this author). At the risk of a spoiler, when the plot reached its final location I sighed because I knew what was coming - more of the same. Sadly I even found the overall storyline way below the high standard of Dan Browns previous works. I doubt I would rush to buy the next book if there is to be one - I would imagine that Charity shops will fill up fairly soon with Inferno - I cannot imagine many readers having a second look.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2013
Unlike 'The Da Vinci Code', which allowed the reader to unravel the mystery with Langdon alone,
this book presented it from several perspectives. Unfortunately the author revealed vital information
only in the final chapters. This prevented the reader making sense of the initial scenes.
On the other hand the basic idea was predictable from the start
Lengthy descriptions of historical sites, objects, events had nothing to do with the story, and merely
seemed like showing off on the author's part.....
Similarly Brown tends to moralise instead of letting the reader judge the issues.......
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2013
I was hoping for something different from another instalment of the Robert Langdon saga via Dan Brown's Inferno; I was sorely disappointed to the point all I wanted to do was bin it!

Dan Brown's Inferno and some previous ones he wrote of a similar genre ended up becoming same old, done that, read it and I’m now rather bored; apart from The Da Vinci Code, which had me enthralled from page one right to the last tantalising heart-stopping page.

Perhaps Dan Brown should leave the Robert Langdon saga alone as he has done the storyline very similar in each case; e.g., a young woman becoming involved with a possibility of some form of entanglement between the two of them.

This in itself speaks volumes that this is now a worn out style with a very tired feel to it.

It will appeal to some I’m sure; as an avid reader myself for many years, Dan Brown’s Inferno can go there for me.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
The critics, especially here in Britain, have been hyper-dismissive of INFERNO. Echoing Dan Brown's previous Robert Langdon adventures, it's easy to read - and easy to forget.

The medieval poet Dante provides the book with its title and most of the 'symbology' which is Brown's hallmark. He injects lumbering quantities of guidebook history in Florence and Venice and the city (I won't spoil the surprise) where the story reaches its climax. What he doesn't inject is very much originality. The plot is as threadbare as an early episode of DR WHO.

The critics are right to lambaste the author.The writing is pitifully bland. 'There are probably endless possibilities,' Langdon says at one point: nobody in his editorial team (he thanks them all by name) spotted the tautology? If Brown thinks that repeated use of the word 'chthonic' (relating to the Underworld) gives his book a touch of class, he is mistaken. At the end our hero and heroine are 'locked in an embrace that neither seemed willing to end' - there's a line Barbara Cartland would be (and probably is) proud of!

The law of diminishing returns is applying to Dan Brown's books. For all the hoopla, THE DA VINCI CODE wasn't as original or as pacy as ANGELS & DEMONS, Langdon's first foray; this latest episode (and THE LOST SYMBOL) would not have made it past the publisher's slush pile from an author without his track record. But Mr Brown rightly feels free to ignore his critics: like Liberace, he's laughing all the way to the bank.

[Reviewer is the author of SHAIKH-DOWN]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2013
Dan Brown's an easy target. To be fair, people like to criticise and many have commented on whether his books are actually well written or not. It's a matter of opinion but I'm sure we would all like to be as commercially successful as him!
Other writers have taken this genre and done it better but a new Robert Langdon novel still seems to capture the imagination. I still enjoy the journey we're taken on especially if you've happened to visit any of the locations described in the book. The descriptions can sometimes go beyond the necessary narrative and can feel jarring at times. I also think there wasn't the need to use so much Italian in dialogue. It felt a bit like showing off and didn't necessarily lend itself to the story. We're in Italy - we get it. Also things like the frecciargento trains. Why not say it once and then call it a train!
Plot-wise it felt very familiar - Langdon assisted by a younger female trying to decipher clues to a location. Having said that an interesting plot-twist does turn things upside down. The ending was a bit of a let-down after the build-up and didn't seem to quite satisfy. Langdon himself does seem a bit over familiar these days and thanks to the movie adaptations I can only picture Tom Hanks.
Nothing earth-shatteringly new here but still entertaining.
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