Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inferno - Dan Brown : A Review


ISBN: 9780385537858
AUTHOR: Dan Brown

GENRE: Thriller/Suspense


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Of course I am a big fan of Dan Brown. So his latest book had to be read immediately. So I waited for the paperback to hit stores and rushed to grab my copy.


The central theme of the latest Dan Brown novel ‘Inferno’ is centred on one line.

          “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”


          The novel featuring Harvard academician Robert Langdon has a real thriller for an opener. The prologue promises lot of intrigue and historical revelations, usual Dan Brown style (in his other Langdon based books, of course). The first chapter of the main part starts with a protagonist who apparently has a gunshot induced temporary memory loss. Readers simultaneously sympathise with the confused professor, who is taunted by recurring dreadful dreams asking him to ‘seek and find’ before time is lost. Langdon does not know the mysterious lady who urges him to seek and find but is desperate to help her because his intuition tells him to reach out to her. But are intuitions always right? To his shock, Langdon finds that the woman from his dreams is real and he knows her, too!

          The protagonist continues his race against time, aided by a fiery, passionate and intelligent Dr. Sienna Brooks. Who helped him out of his “amnesia”. The two have secrets from each other, Langdon due to his inconvenient illness, and Sienna due to embarrassment. The professor has a curious object in his favourite Harris Tweed, a “Biometrically sealed” tube.

          Based on cryptic clues from “The Divine Comedy”, a book of poems written by Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Langdon and Sienna evade a high profile security force and travel together through Florence, Italy. Churches and chapels and underground crypts – the usual Dan Brown landmarks feature here too! No spoilers by revealing exact locations!

          In an adrenaline packed chase, Langdon finds himself once again a fugitive, running away from people who could help him and running to people who might harm him. In a suave twist in the book, he also finds himself a victim of robbery allegations, only, this time, the allegations are true. One man in the whole of Italy who could vouch for his actions is dead, in mysterious circumstances. Langdon takes the help of his historical knowledge to decipher and interpret Dante’s poem and clues left by a cryptic madman, written in insoluble ink behind a famous masterpiece.

          On another side, an organisation that calls itself “The Consortium” furiously tries to prevent Langdon from uncovering the whole mystery, to support its long dead client. Friends turn to foes, as the professor rushes away from a life threat desperately trying to prove his innocence. Suddenly all is not what it seems.

          Too many people are confused and deluded by Langdon’s mysterious behaviour because his medical condition is kept a secret. The page turning element of the story is Langdon’s easy memory of History rather than “his” story. Is this amnesia permanent? Or is at least natural? Every revelation poses more questions than it answers.

          Throughout the story, Langdon is unsure whom to feel pity for, or whom to stay close too. Is the calamity a matter of national security? Why was it entrusted to a simple College Professor? Both the protagonist’s and the readers’ minds whirl with a vortex of questions, most answers of which are surprising and breath-taking.

          A misrepresentation of facts leads Langdon to a wrong location in his chase costing valuable time. The trail leads to Istanbul in Turkey before long where the story culminates in a not so thrilling climax. The readers are left with a void after the high on adrenaline chase as the end is neither justified nor apt. But political limitations and story theme realities do put a barricade to giving a satisfying end.

          But all is not what it seems in this story!

          Langdon finds his chase useless as the calamity has come to pass and the race is not against the future but against the past. All in all, an engaging read, a thrilling story line, usual Brown style, and a politically correct albeit little lacking ending. But it does not disappoint Dan Brown fans. Go for it!


P.S.: As usual, the portrayal of scenes from the book is not only accurate in historical value, but also a thoroughly enjoyable visualisation, bringing the readers to the place that is described.


WHAT I LIKED: Typical Brown style racy narrative, accurate history and really engrossing plotline.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Typical Brown style quirky ending, all the chase and adrenaline rush dropping in the end is like stepping out of a vivid dream into reality and the slap is hard.

VERDICT: Of course go for it. Dot.



Dan Brown is an American author of thriller fiction, best known for the 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Brown is interested in cryptography, codes, and keys. Currently his novels have been translated into many languages. Although many see Dan Brown's books as anti-Christian, Brown is a Christian who says that his book The Da Vinci Code is simply "an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate" and suggests that the book may be used "as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith."

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible.

PRICE: 270


Monday, May 27, 2013

In conversation with : Sherrie Cronin - The writer of x0 ( To the power of Zero ) & Her little Surprise!

Thanks to the “Social Networking" part of goodreads,I was able to contact the writer of book x0 ( To the power of zero ) the book that I had reviewed in my last post. I wanted to know more about her and her book. Here is an excerpt from our conversation!
ME :Before I begin I'd like to congratulate you and thank you for writing such a book based on real interesting theme of Telepathy. I found it really interesting and informative and the plot managed to keep me hooked totally ( Especially after Lola and Somadina made contact!)
ME : The book majorly revolves around the lives of 3 women. What or who is your inspiration for such a storyline which is so women-centric?
Sherrie : That’s a good question. When I started the book I thought of it as a “sister” story.  I have only one sibling, a sister, and we are very close even though we live a thousand miles apart.  I wanted my main character to have such a sister, and for her to form a telepathic link with another woman living a very different kind of life far away but who was just as close to her own sister. My idea was that things like bonds with ones family members transcend cultures, languages and customs and are something we all share and understand. It felt right to me that worrying about your sister’s safety was something that could bring two strangers together.
ME :Telepathy/ESP are much debated topics which have very less believers (I do believe! Many people in my country do!). What made you pick up this subject?
Sherrie: I now get asked a lot if I’m a telepath :).  I’m not, but like Lola at the start of the book I am a very empathic person who picks up feelings from others easily. I’ve often wondered if I could take this gift further and, if I did, would I regret it. I also wanted to explore the idea of empathy. If you really knew what another person was thinking and feeling, could you cheat them? Hurt them? Kill them?
ME :Your style of writing is not the stereotypical kind in various parts of the book. For a fiction work you have used Question and answer kind (The narration of Lola and Somadina reading the FAQs of the website) of narration and you have given links. What made you to use this style? Isn't this style of writing a gamble? (Hey! I loved the way you detailed about telepathy and your links were good too! but just wondering how such narration would sit with the typical novel readers! )
Sherrie: Yes, it was a gamble and maybe not such a good one.  When I wrote the book I promised myself I would write the novel that was inside me, and this book was the result.  I still like the extraneous facts woven into it and the links but that’s kind of how my brain works anyway.  Some readers have really enjoyed my unusual style, others have more or less ignored it and just enjoyed the story, and another group has really rather disliked it and said so.  I wonder if the last group might have liked my story if it was written in a more conventional style.  I have thought about putting out a “second edition” of the book specifically targeted at those who want plot only (sort of an x0 lite). And I did back off from that style a little in both y1 and z2.
ME: Yes, I know you are a Physicist hence the liking for Variables (Your Title "x0") is evident. But what triggered you to give these kind of titles - x0, y1, z2!
Sherrie : The book x0 is the first in a collection of six books.  The first five novels will each tell the more or less independent story of a person developing an unusual power in response to an emergency situation. The second book, now finished, is the story of Lola’s son Zane and it was supposed to be called x1. The third book, also done, is about Lola’s husband Alex as he rediscovers an unusual power he had as a young athlete. It was going to be called x2. Yes, the next novels (about daughters Ariel and Teddie) were really going to the be x3 and x4.  I just thought it was a neat idea and I had a way to tie each exponent into the story.  But as I wrote about Zane, it turned out that he loved superheroes as a child and his favorite were the X-men and at that point I became afraid that all those x’s looked like I was sort of copying from the comic characters (which had not been my idea at all.)  So I changed the second book to y1 and now every book will have a different letter. To me all six books are a very mathematical collection and why that is so won’t be that obvious until the sixth novel.
ME :Now to a little about yourself!
 You are a Geophysicist by profession, what made you take up fiction writing?
Sherrie : Science fiction was my first love, I’ve wanted to write it ever since I was a little girl. I studied journalism in college with a minor in physics with the idea of being a science writer who wrote fiction on the side. But once I was out in the working world I realized that science paid far better than writing and I went back to school to study geophysics. It was a practical decision, although I do enjoy geophysics too.
ME:  And Hey! How do you manage writing and being a geophysicist and having a family? Isn't it a bit taxing?
Sherrie : I couldn’t do it all at once.  To be honest, raising three young children and working as a geophysicist took all the energy I had even with a supportive husband and great kids. I loved my life as mom and scientist, but for many years there was no extra time for writing. However, my youngest child is now in college and I consult four days a week, and so I am rediscovering the idea of free time.  My family thinks it’s great that I’m returning to what I wanted to do so badly years ago.
ME: Tell us something about your likes and dislikes (Just to know what truly irks you when you start writing!)
Sherrie : Well, I’m intolerant of intolerance. I firmly believe that the best and worst human qualities are well distributed among every age group, both genders, every race, culture and religion, every sexual preference, every style and every income level. To me, one of the missions of a writer is to take a reader outside of their own day to day world and into that of another, and to thereby increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. I confess to being an idealist.  In the end, I want my books to add to the sum total of hope in this world, to add to the joy, to add to the love. If I accomplish this even a little tiny bit, I’m going to be very happy that I picked up my laptop and started writing.
ME :What can we expect from y1( I haven't managed to lay my hands on this book) and z2?
Sherrie :I got a little ahead of myself and told you about y1 and z2 when I talked about the titles.  I believe that human beings each have far more potential than they realize and each novel tells of a different family member facing difficulties and overcoming them by learning to use more of that potential.  Zane in y1 has always been something of an outsider.  He is exceptionally smart, he is a gay, and he grew up in Texas public schools. He has unusually good fine muscle control that he uses to teach himself to alter his appearance and he improves on these abilities to save friends who are in danger. Alex in z2 is an aging teacher and ex-athlete who used to be able to slow down time when he was on a basketball court.  He thinks that those glory days are long gone, but when serious dangers enter his own quiet life he needs to relearn those skills quickly.
I’m now working on c3, the story of Teddie, the youngest daughter in the family. It is a work in progress so I hate to say too much about it, but part of it does take place in Northern India near the Himalayas and I am having a wonderful time learning more and more about that part of the world.
Thank you Sherrie for patiently ( & Promptly!) answer my questions! I look forward to reading the rest of the series! 
And now for the little surprise that the writer, Ms. Sherrie Cronin Promised me! 
An Electronic Give away of her book x0( To the power of Zero )  @
Enter the coupon code :  SN62Q
To get the book as a free give away ! Only exclusive to my blog readers!