Warning: If something in my review is marked with a spoiler tag, it really is a spoiler. I don't want to be the reason that a die-hard fan reads a spoiler and has the whole book ruined for him/her. So if that kind of thing matters to you, DON'T CLICK ON THE SPOILERS.
If nothing else, Dan Brown's Inferno reminded me that the interrobang (?!) is a thing. Also, why use one ellipsis ... when you can use ... A MILLION?!
I can't take this book seriously. It took me over a month to read it, and most of that month was spent snickering over what a delicate flower Robert Langdon is.
Somewhere in the apartment, a phone was ringing. It was a piercing, old-fashioned ring, coming from the kitchen.
"Sienna?!" Langdon called out, standing up.
When a ringing phone startles your hero enough to warrant an interrobang, I think it's safe to say the fate of the world is doomed.
I'm going to propose a controversial thesis that is 99% certain to mindfuck you into oblivion, and that thesis is that Inferno is not about Dante or Renaissance art or genetic engineering at all. Inferno is the simple story of one man, a "handsome" Harvard professor of "symbology," who loses his virginity on a wild night and doesn't remember it in the morning.
The only "inferno" in Inferno, you see, is the INFERNO in Bob Langdon's pants.
DON'T LEAVE ME. I HAVE PROOF!
EXHIBIT 1: The Mickey Mouse "Timepiece"
Langdon is dismayed when he wakes up in a Florence hospital with no memory of getting there and no Mickey Mouse timepiece on his wrist. For many people, Mickey Mouse symbolizes innocence and paying over-inflated prices for food at a theme park. This is something that a world-renowned symbologist would know. Therefore, Langdon loses his "innocence" before the story ever starts and spends the whole book mourning it.
Somehow, between then and now, he had managed to lose his clothing, his Mickey Mouse watch, and two days of his life.
Dan Brown practically spells it out for us!
EXHIBIT 2: The Sullying of the Harris Tweed Jacket
Langdon is crushed to find that his favorite Harris Tweed jacket (what all stereotypical Harvard professors wear) has been damaged and dirtied in his forgotten adventures. In fact, the Harris Tweed jacket has a brand new hole in it! Obviously, the supposedly classy and cultured Harris Tweet jacket represents Bob Langdon. Obviously.
EXHIBIT 3: PEEN! Sightings
Bob Langdon notices every penis in Florence, and he HATES them. Now, one would think that a famed art historian and world-renowned symbologist wouldn't blush at the site of the glorious male appendage of sexing. But that's only because one doesn't know Bob Langdon.
At one point, Bob compares the "classy" Italian graffiti on the back of a Porta Potty to the inferior graffiti in the good ol' U S of A: Most American Porta-Potties were covered with sophomoric cartoons that vaguely resembled huge breasts or penises. You would fixate on the naughty bits, wouldn't you, Bob?
Normally, Langdon's visits to the Palazzo Vecchio had begun here on the Piazza della Signoria, which, despite its overabundance of phalluses, had always been one of his favorite plazas in all of Europe.
Really, it's almost like he's going out of his way to be offended by the many peens of Florence.
Langdon intentionally ignored the oft-maligned Hercules and Diomedes, whose naked bodies were locked in an awkward-looking wrestling match, which included a creative "penile grip" that always made Langdon cringe.
But one mention of our "penile gripping" warriors isn't enough for Bob.
Hercules was holding Diomedes upside down, preparing to throw him, while Diomedes was tightly gripping Hercules' penis, as if to say, "Are you sure you want to throw me?"
So, basically, the peens in Inferno symbolize ... penises.
EXHIBIT 4: This all ends up being about BIRTH CONTROL
In the end, I think the bad guy pulled through for Langdon by possibly preventing any unwanted pregnancies.
Due to my irrefutable evidence, this book is perhaps/probably about sex and maybe/possibly the loss of Langdon's male maidenhead. Why is there not a term for a man's virginity? There needs to be a term.
I find Dan Brown's writing adorable. And by "adorable," I mean very naive, bland, and repetitious. He just happily types away at his little mysteries with the same character types in every book, the same things happening, the same inexplicable tendency for ladies to think that Robert Langdon is handsome. Don't worry about losing the plot from chapter to chapter or paragraph to paragraph, because Brown will recap the fuck out of it to such an extent that you'll never forget. Also, prepare to be not very surprised with frequency. The bait & switch technique isn't so special when an author uses it twenty times in the course of a novel.
At least we have the travelogue through Florence and other world cities, in which Langdon stops in the middle of a high-speed chase or frantic search for clues to admire the architecture and artwork. Because that didn't get tedious or anything. I could refute some of the "facts" that Langdon presents about history, but that isn't as much fun as writing about ALL THE PEENS IN FLORENCE.
I will close this review with an observation by Sienna, Langdon's Sexy Sue du jour:
The statue before them depicted an obese, naked dwarf straddling a giant turtle. The dwarf's testicles were squashed against the turtle's shell, and the turtle's mouth was dribbling water, as if he were ill.
When it comes down to it, this is my favorite passage from the book. Google the "Fontana del Bacchino" to see the most glorious statue of all time. >:D