Monday, June 3, 2013

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown * * * *

In some ways this is a typical Dan Brown book, and a typical Robert Langdon, but it's also a bit different.

It was typical in that the pace is fast and there is an awful lot of running. The whole thing happens in about 24-30 hours. Robert is again running with a woman around Italy, while being helped along by symbols and the occasional helper. People aren't all that they seem, which is usual as well, but they all seem to be really smart. It seems like Robert can't get your average Jane to tag along, who wouldn't know a thing about anything beyond the latest fashion in shoes. Maybe next time Dan Brown should have someone like that along for the ride, just to keep things interesting.
What is also typical about the book is all the detailed descriptions. They are really nice and it's interesting to get to know the history of the places they are running through, however, there is a point where it gets to much. Almost at the end there's a chase, and there's a bit about the history of the market they are running through. I yelled at the book: "I don't care about the friggin' market!" It really wasn't the place, so I skipped over that part, but I may go back to read it. I get it, it's really old and has interesting history, but not in the middle of a chase. Footnote? Another place where it started to get frustrating was when they were headed towards an important place in the journey, and for about two chapters nothing happened, we just learned about a square. I skipped a few paragraphs at that point.
These typical things are why we enjoy these books, and what we expect. What Dan Brown should be careful about is not going overboard with the description, and not all of it turning to a predictable formula, because that gets boring fast.

What it was different in is the beginning and the end. Without spoiling the story, neither was what I expected, and really surprised me. That's good, I like surprises.

The theme of this book was overpopulation. I was glad of that, because I do also think that it's a huge problem, and we may need to make drastic decisions that may not be nice for everyone, but necessary. I also think that in order to save tomorrow, we may need to do things now that may be hard. We are animals, with instincts to reproduce, but we also have these huge brains designed to overcome those instincts. Once I read that Japanese teenagers said that the greatest threat to society is individualism. That is true in that we have to get over ourselves, and regard the big picture. I won't spoil the book by telling you about what they do about it in the end. I'm just going to say that I agree with what they're doing in China, which is limiting the number of children people can have. Some people dream of having a big family, but we can't always fulfil our dreams, and those dreams may not always be viable. No matter what Americans tell you.

Overall, the book was a good read, I could hardly put it down. Though that was mostly due to the fact that I just wanted to know how it ends. It had some surprises, some predictable things, and sometimes a bit too much history. That is why I gave it four stars.

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