Inferno by Dan Brown- A Book Review

Overpopulation always was and still is an uneasy topic. To put it simply, the world is simply too fragile and frankly, small to accommodate so many people. 7 Billion People are way too much.  Now throw in a rebel with a brilliant mind and a narcissist personality. Add art, mysterious hidden messages and of course, the element X, conspiracy theories and we have Dan Brown’s latest thriller.
This 480 paged novel is Dan Brown’s 6th novel and 4th in his infamous Robert Langdon series (the others being “Angels & Demons”, “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Lost Symbol”). With Inferno, Dan brings back our favourite Harvard Symbolism professor to Europe; Florence, Italy to be precise.

 

This location is ideal for the book. Drawing from Brown’s usual style of writing, Florence is the best location for a thriller based on hidden messages in art, as it was the birthplace of the Renaissance. Housing many of the world renowned masterpieces, choosing Florence was not a mistake.

Moving on to the fine points of the book, Inferno is a well written classic Dan Brown thriller though not as controversial or conspiracy oriented in nature as his previous writings. Futuristic yes, but not quite. I won’t reveal much about the plot yet except for the fact that it is themed on a Dante obsessed eugenic expert who has bold revolutionary ideas. Apart from that, the plot is one which all Dan Brown fans are familiar with, and due to the nature of deep familiarity, comfortable with.

The downfalls of the book are in certain subtle quirks, which differ from reader to reader. Although the plot is a Dan Brown usual, it doesn’t hold up in this case. It’s really tough to buy into the fact that a single person, no matter how intelligent he is, can outrun government agencies, privately hired mercenaries and in this case, even the personnel of the United Nations.
 
Secondly, Brown’s style of writing has always been something that people have been critics of. The unnecessary exuberance and constant skipping of pronouns in favour of names seems irritating now and appears to be farce to make the book thicker. I agree that a conspiracy centred book should be surplus with details, but in this case, we have copious amounts of writing but yet very little detail is to be found, leaving a huge unanswered question- “Is this(over descriptive writing or as I call it, “A song of Adjectives and Adverbs”) really necessary?”
 

To sum it up, if you loved Dan Brown’s previous work, you’ll definitely love this one but it won’t be your favourite. Imagine a art chase like Angels and Demons, a conspiracy like The Da Vinci Code, a real time problem like The Digital Fortress and a dull end like The Lost Symbol. There you go ladies and gentlemen, I lay bare the formula of his latest thriller, Inferno.

 

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The Bankster By Ravi Subramanian-A Review

Intricate detailing is what makes a thriller what it is. The Bankster is beyond the usual suspense thriller. Veering with multiple scenarios playing at our simultaneously, it makes for a fabulous read, especially in India’s emerging culture which is exponentially rising into the corporate lifestyle. The subtle, yet commonly gossiped about fact that powerful corporate houses run the nation is well weaved into the plot as Mr. Subramanian takes you on a simple, yet enthralling ride

This 358 paged novel is Ravi’s fifth novel with the banking world as its set (however, I confess to not having read the other four before). But, with all honesty, I regret not having read them as this book was simply wonderful. Dealing with three different parallels at the same time, Subramanian slowly unravels a web of mystery linking a covert CIA agent, an anti-nuclear power plant protest in India and a series of death of a certain bank’s employees. Most authors writing thrillers fail to clearly link these sets in a convincing manner, often disappointing readers. However, The Bankster pretty much clearly exhibits the links and demonstrates their entanglement.

The nucleus of this book is its radical, coherent yet brutally simple analogy to different current situations. Ravi brilliantly has drawn some of the world’s most familiar happenings into an elaborate piece of fiction to expound some thoughts which gets you thinking. The familiarity between the Kundankulam nuclear power plant protests and the fictitious protests in the book is point blank and obvious but does explore a delicate side of the world of International relations by sly hints. Also, by dumbing down complex banking strategies and terms, Ravi has eased the burden on a common reader. This is a problem rarely addressed by authors and often becomes a stigma. I quote one of my friends who supposedly read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code with one eye on the book and the other on the Google search results of the various terms thrown at her. At face value, The Bankster is both easy on your mind as well as Internet bills.

Moving on to the book’s Achilles’ heel, we arrive at something which is debatable Although the book slowly lays out the detailed plot and the mystery breaks free perfectly with logical arguments, the method, to me was a bit unrealistic. To me, a media personnel deciphering extravagant clues and connecting the dots, that too within a fixed time period of 48 hours is a bit tough to accept. Although Ravi seeks to augment this fact by detailing Karan (the media guy)’s character with investigative training and a natural flair for deciphering cases, it still remains tough to accept. Another counter to this can be Karan’s support team consisting of some trusted colleagues and his girlfriend, I would like to iterate that their contribution pales in comparison to Karan’s as he clearly steals the limelight.

Overall, this book is a masterpiece and simply un-putdown-able. Ravi draws you into the world of GB2 and controls your emotions like a puppet master. When I picked up the book, the first thing that leaped out was a line out of the Wall Street Journal saying “Meet the John Grisham of banking”. Suffice to say, I second it.

The Standing Coin Rating: 7.5/10

Like: Easy to read, Draws the reader’s attention into a detailed world, Radical new theories

Dislike: Single character essaying the role of a super intelligent hero comes across as unrealistic

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The Krishna Key By Ashwin Sanghi- A Review

In an era when India and in its essence, India’s youth is losing touch with Indian mythology,  The Krishna Key and in a broader sense, Ashwin Sanghi’s own distinctive genre is a game changer. Combining mysterious mythology, excellent research and some enthralling fiction, the book can simply not be put down. The book slowly lures you into a seemingly simple waltz which suddenly turns into a spicy tango as each page leaves you yearning for more.
This 464 paged novel is unique because of several factors; the so called “Indian” style of writing, a simple yet deep character embodiment combined with a Dan Brown like narration and plot makes for a brilliant read. Being a consistent Sanghi reader, the tone and pace of the book was nothing new to me although to first time readers it may seem slightly odd but you catch on within the first 100 pages.
Moving on to the core X-factor of the book that is the blunt and simple expression of history in combination with myth.  Ingeniously Sanghi uses logic and seemingly simple connect-the-dots narration to solidly bring credential to seemingly absurd mythological claims. Simply put, if a book can convince me that a Shiv Lingam is an ancient representation or a model of a nuclear reactor in just about two pages, the book is meticulously researched and the author has a super power to cut the crap when it comes to information. Interestingly, the Krishna Key also shows the other side of Sanghi which is of an excellent fiction creator. Dramatization, suspense and elaborate scene setting are a part of his style which beautifully fits in with the obviously exhaustive research.
Zeroing on to the rare down trends of the book, I personally felt that the climax was well rather anti-climax. Quite similar to Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and most of Ashwin’s past books themselves, the ending had a spiritual as well as philosophical edge to which the build up was rather lacking. The transition from finding something substantial to finding something metaphorical and cryptically spiritual is rather quick and surprisingly, but not in the good sense. Apart from that, the novel did not lag anywhere. Although there were clearly some issues at the editorial (For example, on  Page number 301 of my paperback edition, the character Radhika is referred to as Priya who is an another character), these issues are ignorable and can be easily fixed in future editions.
Overall, this book is a wonderful read for all fans of the thriller or historical fiction genre. For kids and teenagers, it is  an opportunity to learn the logic and history behind many of our existing beliefs while for the analytical adult( or young adult), the book, like the previous ones by Ashwin, present a wonderful and fresh new look on the concept, evolvement and emergence of religion which admirably plays a huge role in all our lives.
The Standing Coin Rating: 7/10
Like: Style of narration, Brilliant mixing of fiction, myth, history and logic
Dislike: Anti climax end, Editorial mistakes
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