Great minds are always feared by lesser minds.
Happy 53th birthday, Dan Brown! The author of blockbuster thriller The Da Vinci Code also co-wrote two humor books with his wife: The Bald Book and 187 Men to Avoid, A Survival Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman.
So, for the last week I've been at the mercy of someone else's library. We've all been there: You're on vacation, staying with friends and you forgot your eReader, you didn't bring print because... You get it.
Anyway, spent a lot of time reading over the last week, and little of what I read would have been on my list. (It wasn't all bad though; any week where I read six Tor shorts and a Dick Francis is a success.) And I spent a bit of that time reading best-sellers, as you do, specifically books by James Patterson and Dan Brown.
And I almost enjoyed it.
Look, this is not my first go round with either of these authors (I was young, they were popular...) and I'm not trying to attack them or question the tastes of the public that has made these men millions of dollars. Instead, I'm going to try to explain it (to myself, more than anything, so you can skip this if you've an excuse from your mum).
Dan Brown makes relatively simple puzzle thrillers, often historic and/or artistic twists to them. They are flawed, sure, but Brown does a few things brilliantly: He uses patterns to help is readers solve the puzzles with his characters; he foreshadows his twists enough so they're comfortable, but doesn't spoil them; and he expertly uses controversy when it rears it's head.
I'm going to focus on the puzzles. What Brown does is give you a very difficult puzzle to start, then walk you through it, step by step. Then, later, he'll give you a simpler variation on the same puzzle, then a harder one, slowly escalating until you're solving problems at the same time and skill as Langdon himself. It's rewarding and addictive, and makes the reader feel good about his books. Hence, repeat sales.
James Patterson is another author who gets tons of sales and no respect (except from Larry King), but he also has a few awesome tricks up his sleeves: Short chapters and paragraphs, leading to a constant sense of accomplishment; constant cliffhangers and foreshadowing, to keep you reading; and a lot of twists, so you don't get bored. Ever.
That's the big one, because most people think of reading as either work or boring. If you can get around that, people will love you for it.
Cracked.com talked about this in their Ninja Turtles episode of After Hours, oddly enough. Lots of talk, something resembling empowerment, and just enough sexuality to make you feel happily naughty. (Don't worry, I didn't actually read this one, which is why I refuse to mock it... except for the sparkles. Fuck that shit.)
The success of this series has been debated all over the place, but it's not complicated: Everybody wants to get off; everybody likes feeling superior (speaking here of the grammar and spelling errors); and everybody wants to win the lottery (or have a rich, gorgeous person pop in out of the blue and say, "Fuck me right, and you'll be well-compensated," except, you know, suave).
Nothing wrong with that.
Another Dan Brown classic! Robert Langdon is back in this book with another winding tale of symbology, secret passageways and allegorical puzzle. Once I started reading it I could not put it back down. I started reading the last 150 pages last night and after 3 hours found myself at the 98th chapter. The story is so immersive and mind boggling one wants to know what, why, who, when…all the time.
Inferno spans 3 most architectural cities of the world, starting from the artist’s haven i.e. Paris, sprinting into the beautiful waters and gigantic St. Mark’s Square of Venice and finally flying to its end straight into the East’s Heart i.e. Istanbul. As always, Dan Brown was very intimate and detailed about the architectural beauty of each historical building that Professor Landgon set foot in.
The most defining part of the whole story-line is that the plot spans a total of 2 days and 2 night only. 48 hours of Robert Langdon and a dramatic unraveling of Dante’s seven levels of hell. This is what makes it so empowering and fills your imagination with hundreds of minute thoughts, codes, architectural details. So much so that one can forget the subtle hints of the dark and twisty ending. But being a serial movie watcher that I am, I did guess some part of it by the beginning of the end (how boastful of me).
Nevertheless, the ending is kind of a boggling turn of events. I do not want to provide any spoilers so lets just say that the book’s ending is nothing like what you think it is. Its exactly the opposite. Still it needs to be said here that, although the story itself was riveting, the curtain dropping moment was not as imaginative and thrilling as I would have liked it to be. And as Inferno readers have come to known Dan Brown by. Still, its definitely, worth the read. Also, if you are a Dan Brown follower like me, you would read anything he offers like the Scripture.
I would highly recommend this book to detective and mystery novel enthusiasts with a touch of thrill.