I'm beginning to look on the bright side of unemployment. For starters, I get to go to the library whenever I want and spend lots of time looking at bI'm beginning to look on the bright side of unemployment. For starters, I get to go to the library whenever I want and spend lots of time looking at books with pretty pictures. I also get to review those books, even when the pictures inside turn out to be disturbing interpretations of the apocalypse, the deluge, or simply creepy stuff with demons and skeletons in the corners. (I love you Dali, but your stuff gives me the chills)
So yeah, this is a book about the apocalypse. There’s some interesting stuff inside about eclipses, comets, diseases and famine, but honestly, I spent most of the time fascinated and horrified by the art work. Good thing I don’t believe in hell, otherwise I would live paralyzed with fear of spending the rest of eternity being cooked and eaten by two-headed demons. ...more
I want to start this review by saying that, unlike what seems to be the general consent in the educated world, I don’t hate Dan Brown’s books. On theI want to start this review by saying that, unlike what seems to be the general consent in the educated world, I don’t hate Dan Brown’s books. On the contrary, I find him to be the perfect complement to a lazy sunny afternoon, especially now that we have a hammock on the terrace and everybody else seems to be too busy to take full advantage of it. The fact that once again Brown decides to play it safe in terms of plot, pacing and character development just adds to the enjoyment I felt while reading “Inferno”: There was nothing new to encounter and therefore, I could simply watch the words fly by while trying not to fall asleep and fall from the hammock. (It’s happened more than once, I’m a messy hammock sleeper)
Here’s the rundown of every Langdon book I’ve read:
1. Evil genius concocts a convoluted plan to “improve” the world and leaves a trace of clues based on symbols, historic figures, works of art, and monuments.
2. Robert Langdon is summoned to decipher the riddle, and ends up in a race against the clock alongside a sidekick, (which is usually a smart and pretty woman with a hidden relationship to the central, evil plot)
3. Langdon finds out that nothing is what it seemed to be at first, solves the mystery, and encounters a twist ending.
4. There’s a reflection about the villain’s noble intentions, and the way his plans had changed the world.
5. The end.
“Inferno” follows this structure to the letter. The place of the historical figure is occupied by Dante Alighieri, whose Divine Comedy has inspired the evil guy to look for a definitive solution to what sees as the ultimate threat of the human race: overpopulation. With the aid of a corporation called The Consortium he hides in Florence for a year (I think, could have been longer) and, by the time he is discovered, has put in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to reducing the human population of earth to what the villain thinks of as “manageable” levels.
The leading ladies in “Inferno” are Sienna Brooks, a former childhood prodigy with lots of untreated traumas and whose outstanding IQ doesn’t prevent her from being lectured by Langdon on pretty much everything, and Elizabeth Sinskey, head of the World Health Organization and arch nemesis of our beloved villain. Both women are beautiful, smart, accomplished, and crippled by traumatic experiences that came across as cheap and clumsy attempts to give them some depth. (view spoiler)[ Where does it say that, in order to give a woman dimension as a character, she needs to have suffered some kind of sexual assault? Sienna’s problems were justified enough without that stupid rape scene, but apparently there was no other way to portray her vulnerability. Bullshit.
In the case of Elizabeth, I can sort of understand the link between her sterility problems and the ultimate twist of the story, but it wasn’t executed properly. The woman pines against her lost chance at motherhood as if she had lost the one thing that defined her as a woman, and against which not even her incredible professional accomplishments could measure up. While reading her story all I could think of was “If she has such a strong desire to be a mother, why couldn’t she have adopted a freaking kid????” What does that say for all of us with no desire to be parents? Are we wired wrong? Are we less women for that? The whole thing pissed me off, and it could’ve been handled better. (hide spoiler)] Ultimately, they both play the part represented by every other woman paired with Langdon in each of his adventures, and achieve the same amount of success.
Having said all this, I also found some redeeming qualities in “Inferno” that connvinced me to give it three stars. For starters, it’s better than the incoherent mess called “The Lost Symbol”, whose stupidity moved me to tears. The use of Dante Alighieri as the pivotal figure of the story was effective, and the pace was fast enough to keep me guessing and turning the page, which is exactly what I look for in a Langdon book. And even though his “LOOK AT ME, I’M SMAAAAAART” attitude rubs me the wrong way sometimes, I do like Robert Langdon as a character. He’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but gets the job done (and by “job” I mean, he doesn’t fuck up in ways that make me want to kill him).
All in all, an average book, with some interesting questions about the future of the human race and enough elements to distract you during an otherwise lazy evening, assuming you try to look past grammatical errors and the style of writing that makes Dan Brown infamous among certain circles. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So lately I’ve been filling word documents and old notebooks with lists. Ideas for mixtapes (from happy and sad to the soundtrack for a zombie apocalySo lately I’ve been filling word documents and old notebooks with lists. Ideas for mixtapes (from happy and sad to the soundtrack for a zombie apocalypse, songs for fictional characters, and drinking playlists), ideas for stories, cool pancake recipes, interesting quotes, lyrics, pet names, places to visit when I win the lottery… you name it. Being true to my latest obsession, I now present you with a list of reasons why I loved “Looking for Alaska”:
- As Miles, I’m also on the threshold of beginning my own journey in the hopes of finding a Great Perhaps away from home, friends, country and culture. There are days when I wake up scared to death about the prospect of moving so far away from everything I know, and books like this one keep reminding me that the journey is worth the risks.
- I also read “The General in his Labyrinth” at Alaska’s age and felt haunted by it, although for different reasons. Simon Bolivar freed my country from Spain’s oppression only to die here, alone and friendless, and swallowed by a labyrinth of his own making. The book and the discussions it inspires in “Looking for Alaska” were a nice reminder of my teenage days, building my own library and hoping that I could find answers to everything inside books.
- Ever since watching “vlogbrothers” on youtube (nerdfighters!!!!) I’ve developed a little crush on John Green (How could I not? The guy’s adorable!!) and I was a little worried that his books would destroy that admiration. I mean, what if he ended up being another Picoult? Or a Nicholas Sparks for teens? Lucky for me, John Green is as cool on paper as he is on the screen and I’m now able to say that my crush remains unscathed.
- It allowed me to get over the assumption that YA literature was below me. (don't blame me, I've seen so many incredible stupid and condescending stuff marketed for young adults that at one point I thought that was the heart of the entire label)
- When my mom asked me the other day what this book was about. I ended up answering along the lines of “well, you see, it’s the story about a teenager’s experience at a boarding school, but not really. I mean, deep inside the book talks about loss and first encounters, taking risks, finding family away from home, and discovering wonderful people through books that talk about them. It’s about meeting friends, knowing all along that some of them will disappear from your life one way or another, and loving them anyway.” How could I not love something like this??????
- It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t exploit my feelings for the sake of sales. If there’s one thing I hate about books like “The Lovely Bones” or “My sister’s keeper”, is the nagging suspicion that their authors consciously employ scenes of abuse and death in order to force emotions, like pretty much any Mexican, Venezuelan and Colombian soap opera in existence. The feelings in “Looking for Alaska” are there, don’t get me wrong, but they are incorporated for a reason, an important one, and are also given an appropriate amount of depth and respect. So ten points for that.
There are more reasons, but they are way too personal and incoherent to post so I’ll leave it at that. “Looking for Alaska” is a great book, both in terms of my growing love for John Green as an author and a blogger (I'm telling you, go watch him on he vlogbrothers channel, he's awesome), and of young adult books which, as I said before, can apparently be inspiring and moving even for someone who reached puberty more than a decade ago. Even better, I’m now in the process of becoming the cool cousin that recommends awesome books to her younger family members!!
If you have read good YA books (I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romance, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it’s a really good book) please let me know. I’m starting a special section on my TBR pile dedicated to these books and I don’t really know where to begin.