This part is pretty much in continuation with the previous part, but is meant for those who, like me have read the novel. In the last novel ‘The Lost Symbol’ and now this one ‘Inferno’, I feel a sense of loss for Robert Langdon, for he did run around a lot, but ultimately got nothing. In this one, the damage had already been done; Dr. Bertrand Zobrist had already unleashed the vector before anyone had a chance to stop it. Robert Langdon was essentially chasing a burnt out star still perceived as live because its light reaches us after a delay. He couldn’t stop Zobrist.
Critics started seeing patterns in Dan’s writing style, like the bad guy would be the one who’d be the most trusted aide of the protagonist and his/her partner. This was almost a let-down for me when I guessed it right in ‘Digital Fortress’. I say almost because I wasn’t sure. Dan surely did break the pattern in ‘The lost symbol’, where he revealed the bad guy somewhere in the middle. In this one, the guy’s already dead and everyone is trying to figure out or stop others from figuring out what he actually did. No one is wrong, and everyone is somehow, except Robert, who is the right person in the wrong place.
Thinking of Dr. Zobrist, he wasn’t wrong, not totally. He was a genius, and like any enthusiastic chap who thinks he’s found a solution tried to garner support too early, or chose the wrong words. There was no certainly right side. Had Dr. Sinskey listened to what Zobrist had to offer, maybe she’d have not given formed such an extreme viewpoint so as to brand him as a bio-terrorist. She comes forth as a woman of high intellect who has had problems in her own life, but is still strong. But this strength has also made her somewhat arrogant to not listen completely before jumping to conclusions. I am particularly sympathetic with the Provost, he did what he knew was right and he maintained the dignity of the contract even after the demise of the other party. Dr. Sinskey getting him extracted and arrested is something I see as another minus points of Dr. Sinskey, she simply assumed that because he harbored Zorbist, he’s wrong, when he was abiding by his rule of ignorance and trust in the customer.
This time, and I think this is for the first time Dan has taken up a softer topic as the center piece to his plot, growing population. It is a growing problem, true. We’re running out of space, time, resources and patience. The picture that Zobrist thought would happen in such an eventuality finds its redemption in the experience of Dr. Sienna Brooks, a very bright girl who was trying to help save the world. Such a fate is very much imaginable. It was only a few days ago that I heard this mathematical statement that if the wire is doubled on itself every time, then by its 50th fold, the pile would be higher than the distance between the earth and the sun. (Just for curiosity’s sake, let’s assume that a paper is 0.05mm thick and is folded symmetrically again and again. By trivial exponentiation, folding it 50 times, which might not be humanly possible, its height would be 0.05mm multiplied by two raised to the power of 50 which is 56,294,995km. The distance between earth and sun is 149,600,000km and that of earth and moon is 384,400 km. The mathematics is undeniable, and did you know there is a theory that it was due to caterpillars that dinosaurs disappeared; the same logic of binary exponentiation!)
But just like this theory of extinction, Dan’s assertion had a flaw. Though I’ve not researched if the figures would make a striking difference or nullify his entire premise, but whoever is born, dies. Even though medical science has improved the longevity of humans, there is no denying that people die every day. Dan Brown chose to highlight the alarming increase of birth rate while safely side-lining the death rate. This is a kink in the armour. I wonder if the difference of the two (4.2 births per sec – 1.8 deaths per sec = 2.4 births per sec, okay I decided to look that up for you) would make the situation any less alarming.
As said earlier, this time I noticed our protagonist effectively used his previous knowledge and wisdom to solve the current puzzle although he was allegedly suffering from retrograde amnesia. Unlike previous novels, he discovered no new hidden passages, but used his previous knowledge of secret doors that he’d acquired on previous privileged visits to the places of which, his highly sophisticated and resourceful assailants knew nothing of.
One loose end to which I found no conclusive answer was the video. Bertrand mentions that he’s leaving his creation in the tender hands of his love, which seems to me was an allusion to Sienna. But she never saw the video, and was bent on destroying what he’d created. I was kind of let down by the end, maybe because the plot looked clichéd after it unfolded, or maybe because they’d lost before they could even begin, but I am happy that I read it, and it was well while it lasted.