Valdosta Daily Times

June 11, 2013

Books: Inferno by Dan Brown

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Dan Brown’s “Inferno” is one of those books that you either have already bought, already read, plan to buy or plan to read, or simply have no interest in it at all, and no review will likely keep anyone from reading it or encourage anyone not already interested to open it. Since the phenomenal success of “The Da Vinci Code,” the release of a Dan Brown book has become something of an event, not on a level of J.K. Rowling’s releases of her “Harry Potter” books, but still a Dan Brown book is a guaranteed best-seller, at least, so far. “Inferno” features Brown’s Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon. It includes the expected race against time as Langdon pieces together arcane clues, in this case: a man wanting to reduce the world’s population with help from Dante’s “Inferno.” Brown again teams Langdon with a brilliant, young woman who works with him during their travels and travails. One could argue the story’s merits, whether these books are formulaic, etc., but, again, if you’re going to read it, you will; if you’re not, you won’t, no matter what is written here or elsewhere. Instead, I prefer mentioning the difficulty of reading a book series then seeing the movies then returning to newly written books in the series. Reading “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” I developed a mind image of how I thought Robert Langdon should appear. My imagined image of his face was something between Dan Brown’s dust-jacket photo and Harrison Ford. That’s how I pictured him while reading those books. Then came the movie adaptations of the books, the movies starring Tom Hanks. Now, reading a new Dan Brown book, my mind flits between picturing Robert Langdon as my original version and Tom Hanks, a strange combination that often detracts from the enjoyment of the plot. If a book is a one-shot, which you read then see the movie version, it works out OK; you choose the characters’ faces while reading then accept the actors’ faces while viewing. But if it’s a series of books that are still being released as movie adaptations are being produced, such as James Patterson’s Alex Cross books, or Rowling’s Harry Potter, or “Game of Thrones,” etc., finding the balance from what your mind created and what Hollywood gives you can be a confounding limitation to the imagination.