Inferno – a quick book review

Feb 21, 2023 | Action & Adventure, Books, Thriller | 0 comments

What is the most significant threat to humanity?

It took the Earth’s population 100,000 years to reach a billion people. And then just 100 more years to reach two billion. And only 50 years to double again.

We are destroying the very means by which life is sustained. Every single global ill that plagues the Earth can be traced back to human overpopulation. There have been five major extinctions in the Earth’s history, and unless we take bold, immediate action, the sixth extinction will be our own.

Dan Brown’s Inferno explores this controversial issue that is often forgotten in national policies and international debates despite its relevance to the world’s future.

The plot (without spoilers)

Imagine waking up in a hospital with no memories of the past few days. On top of that, you wake up with a gunshot wound to the head. You remember who you are. But you don’t remember anything about what happened in the last two or three days.

The Antagonist 

Berto Zobrist is a brilliant but controversial geneticist who has become a fanatic about overpopulation, believing that overpopulation was the greatest threat to humanity and that drastic measures were necessary to prevent a global catastrophe.

Zobrist is the primary antagonist in the novel, and much of the story revolves around his plan to release a deadly virus that would cause a massive reduction in the world’s population.

He is willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of people in order to achieve what he believes is the greater good. 

He publicly declared that a part of the world’s population must be removed by some means and was condemned by the entire world community and even the World Health Organization. 

So he goes into hiding. After hiding in the shadows for several years, he comes back and declares that he will take action into his own hand and kills himself.

Image by Allexxandar on Freepik

During this time, as I said earlier, Professor Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Italy with no recollection of how he got there. He doesn’t remember what happened to him, how he got here, or how he got shot in the head.

Langdon learns from Sienna Brooks, an English-speaking doctor at the hospital, that he came to the hospital with a gunshot wound and became unconscious. At the same time, he was muttering very sorry…very sorry again and again. But Langdon doesn’t remember any of these things. The last thing he remembers is how he walked through Harvard University two days ago.

Sienna also says that she found a small cylindrical metal canister in the pocket of his coat, but Langdon doesn’t remember owning this item. 

As Langdon attempts to get his bearings, an assassin breaks into the hospital to kill him. Langdon escapes from the hospital with the help of Dr Sienna and goes to Sienna’s apartment, hoping to call the American Embassy and get help.

When they got to the apartment, Dr Siena pointed out to Professor Langdon that the metal canister they found had a symbol indicating biohazards.

Slowly, the professor opens it and finds that inside the canister is a painting of Hell. A piece of art by artist Botticelli, which is based on the poem Inferno written by the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri.

Realizing that the painting contains a symbolic message, Professor Langdon, intending to leave the matter to the government, makes a phone call to the American embassies. Within a few minutes after the phone call, the assassin once again finds him. And now they understood that it was none other than the American Embassy that was trying to kill him.

With no other choice, Langdon and Sienna flee the apartment, and Sienna points out the canister in Langdon’s possession as the only way to solve the mystery. 

The professor decides to solve the message hidden in the painting of hell, and that’s how Langdon and Sienna find out that there is a terrible plague that is going to be released into the world.

So, is it just a coincidence that a professor of Symbolism at Harvard University woke up in an Italian hospital with a canister containing a biohazard symbol while a scientist who declared that a population control epidemic should be developed died in Italy? Is there a connection between these two events? How did Professor Langdon lose his memory? Who shot him?

Also, why was Langdon mumbling very sorry…very sorry? Why is the American Embassy trying to kill Professor Langdon? How does he have a canister with the biohazard symbol on it? What is this mysterious plague? Who created it? What will happen if it is released? Will Professor Langdon and Dr Sienna be able to solve the puzzles and stop this pandemic? Are humans really on the brink of mass extinction?

To find out all these answers, you have to go through Dante’s Inferno with Professor Langdon.

An Imminent threat

Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

Inferno is a story with an amazing plot twist. I can usually predict the ending of a thriller to a plausible extent, but this one took me by surprise.

The ending leaves you with something to think about. Because the book talks about the rapid growth of the population, which is a major problem in the world. In fact, our population has exceeded the level that the world can support. If 1/3 of the total population decreases, it can be balanced, but due to the rapid birth rate in third-world countries and the ignorance and myths about birth control, the birth rate will keep increasing.

If this situation continues, wars, starvation, and climate change will occur, and soon the human race will become extinct because the needs will increase more than the resources.

Zobrist believed that the Earth’s resources were finite and that the rapidly growing human population was consuming them at an unsustainable rate. He argued that this would ultimately lead to the collapse of society and the extinction of humanity.

Once every 100 years, a natural epidemic controls the population. But should humans find a way to artificially control the population? To what extent is it fair to do so? Should we sacrifice 1/3 of the population for the survival of mankind? If you have to do such a thing, how can you choose? Should Berto Zobrist really be hated? Is he really someone who loved humanity? Or a villain?

You will definitely find answers to these problems while reading this book.

The Langdon Series

As I said at the beginning, this is one of my favourite books in Dan Brown’s Langdon series. Inferno is a story that highlights Professor Langdon’s skills in art history and symbolism. How Langdon uses his knowledge and skill to move forward in a place where there is no clue or guess.

This is the fourth book in Dan Brown’s Langdon series, and if this is your first Dan Brown Book, don’t worry. You do not have to know the story of the previous book in order to continue. Reading the Dan Brown books in order for his Robert Langdon series is not necessary, as each story is independent of the other. You might find a reference to the previous book only once or twice, and they are not so significant in the book, so even if you do not know the story, you will still be able to continue without being stuck.

However, I do recommend starting with Angels & Demons as it shows the development of the “Langdon” character as the series progresses. 

The magic of Brown’s novel is the weaving of an excellent fictional plot with the places of the real world. He creates fiction stories from historical figures, artefacts, scientific facts, and mythological figures. He takes you on an enthralling tour along with him. This exhilarating experience is totally real.

In Inferno, all the historic monuments, libraries, churches, and scientific facts mentioned are actually true.

But remember that Dan Brown is a fiction writer. Sometimes you have to remind yourself what you are reading is actually fiction. He mixes fiction with Realism so well that it’s hard to distinguish what’s what. Remember, there is a reason why these books are placed in the fiction section of bookshops.

I think the positive side of a novel like this is that, for people like me, Brown’s books create an interest to dive deeper into history and real facts. Most or all of his novels are fiction, but since it’s talking about historical events, I can’t help but do my own little research and, in the process, learn and study really interesting stuff.

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