Monday, 17 February 2014

Inferno by Dan Brown

There are going to be so many spoilers. If you're worried about that, stop reading now.

I'm done. This is the last Dan Brown I'll read. This isn't necessarily the worst condemnation - there are just certain writers that I feel like I've seen all their tricks, know what to expect, and it's not enough to keep me reading. There are so many books out there I haven't read! Except in this case, it's sort of a condemnation. It took me longer to get to than some authors, but I'm done.

This is what, the fourth of his books I've read? And I've enjoyed the others in an entirely superficial, entirely forgettable, boy-this-guy-picks-a-plot-and-sticks-to-it way. Entertaining. But this one? Oh my god, the stupidity! More so than I remember in any of his previous books, which are all glorified scavenger hunts. People do the stupidest things for the stupidest reasons, and I can't stand stupidity. I don't expect realism, but I do expect internal consistency.

And it doesn't help that he also misused the one statistic I've seen so often misused, the one that drives me crazy. It's the one about how most people use the most medical care in the last six months of their lives. Note that it doesn't say anything more than that. That statistic pretty much says that medical care is a side effect of dying. Unless you die very suddenly, you're going to be sick before you die, and that will bring you into contact with the medical system. That is ALL it says.

It does not say anything about staying healthy - you'll probably still use the most medical care the six months before you die, because staying healthy does not equal immortality. It does not say anything about longevity - the same statistic would hold true for children dying as it would for bedridden centenarians, as it would for someone dying in middle age. So if people would stop using that statistic to score unrelated rhetorical points, I'd really appreciate it. Lying, damn lying, and statistics. We're still there.

Oh, and Brown's tendency to have the villains have devoted henchmen who are peculiar in appearance in some way? Happens twice. They're not as devoted as in previous books, but twice. Way to make a weird false equivalency, dude. Particularly in a book where you appear to be ragging on transhumanism for most of the time. A few lines at the end that amount to "maybe they aren't all bad" don't really help.

And again, I don't expect realism from these books, as much as they strive to portray the possibility of telling truths through fiction. (Skeptical!) But more than I remember in the other books, there are just these stupid-ass leaps of logic that drove me crazy.

Let's see. You're trying, in a dark place, to prove to someone, that you mean them no harm. Instead of saying anything to that effect, or trying to explain your previous actions, when you were shooting at Robert Langdon, you raise your gun at fairly close range and go to shoot him again - to prove that you were always shooting blanks? Do we see why this is the dumbest plan ever? Even if that worked better than talking (Doubtful!), in a dark place, Langdon would probably just assumed you missed, rather than that you were shooting blanks. Oh, and blanks can still be dangerous. Just so you know.

But that pales in comparison to the end, when the villain's lover agrees to work with the WHO, but only if they admit they were wrong to have just dismissed him the way they did before. But, but, but.... This was the guy who wrote papers about how it would be good to just exterminate half the human race! When he approached the head of the WHO, he broached his subject in terms of the Black Death and how awesome it was! If he really wanted to be taken seriously, he needed to start just one discussion, one paper, one SOMETHING with the words "I'm not trying to kill everyone, but I have another idea for population control..." instead of being all Black Death Yay!

They had every reason to distrust the crazy guy with the genetic expertise and a seeming hard-on for mass extermination, and not a single one to help them change their mind. That's not on them, that's on him. If he's so smart and misunderstood, it never crossed his mind just once to not talk in terms of killing people? He just assumed people knew that was rhetorical? Sorry, honey. I know you think your lover was hard done by, but he really did do it to himself. And wait, Brown, you want us to agree? Seemingly? Huh?

So, I'm done. The plot is the same, but the story is getting weaker. I've seen what he can do, but it's getting more ludicrous. Time to spend my reading time somewhere else. So long, Dan Brown.

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