Inferno – Dan Brown

Author: Dan Brown

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical fiction, Thrillerinferno.jpg

Thoughts: This is actually my first Dan Brown book, and while I enjoyed reading it, it did have some faults. I’ve been told that all Dan Brown books are like this – leave lots of cliff-hangers, make you want to keep reading it, but the writing isn’t actually that great. Basically, Brown’s main character for four of his books is Harvard symbologist Professor, Robert Langdon. The start of Inferno begins with the Professor wakes up in a hospital, without any memory… Pretty average story starter, if you ask me, but it did follow on with good bits. Some exciting stuff happens, and by the 4th chapter, we have identified the bad guys and the good guys. He then embarks on an adventure around Florence and Venice with new-found friend Sienna Brooks.

“Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus. And that’s fear.”
― Dan BrownInferno

So, on to the review – it was full of exciting stuff. So many things happened, and basically every chapter ended with some new part of information that did not make sense, making you want to read on – basically a cliff-hanger every chapter. So definitely exciting. I had to force myself to put it down so I could actually get some sleep on some nights. The story line was also quite enjoyable, for me at least. I have recently travelled around Italy myself, spending some time in Florence and Venice, so it was very nice to be able to recognise what Brown was explaining and describing. I also enjoy learning about mythology and ancient history, including the Italian Renaissance, so for me, I loved that this whole book was based on it. Saying that, I can still understand that some people would find it a little boring and overfull of information. Dan Brown did put quite large chunks of information about the history of some certain artefact, and while it was interesting, I kind of just wanted to get back to the story.

Professor Robert Langdon is a cool character I think, and Sienna is also a nice addition as a strong female lead. Over the course of the story, there isn’t too much development between the two, or with any characters as a matter of fact, which was a let down, but I had to keep reminding myself that the entire plot only happens over the course of one day. So really, not too much character development could happen. There was a bit in the last few chapters, and I have to say they would have to be my favourite part of the book. I think. I enjoyed the story overall, it was just some little nit-picks that brought it down.

For example, the writing style. While it was very effective in keeping readers interested (including me), it was also pretty average writing. The sentences were short, and descriptions ordinary. I found that Brown was telling us, not showing us, instead of the other way round. But that is the way Dan Brown writes so, I’m just going to have to deal with that, because I did like the other parts of the book. The characters were pretty likeable, and had some faults, which made them more relatable. For example, Landon’s claustrophobia. I actually loved this aspect, and the parts where he mentioned and was suffering from it were some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t know if anyone else found this, but I just really loved that aspect. Another part that I really liked (that isn’t actually that important) was Landon’s Mickey Mouse watch. It was gift from his parents when he was little, and has worn it ever since, and gets quite upset when something happens to it. To all the other characters, it would have seemed a little weird that the well-renowned Professor Langdon was upset over losing a silly little watch, but it was another really nice aspect.

One of my favourite things about this novel, was that it made you think. Really hard. It had a very deep message underneath everything else, and I actually found myself questioning some of the things both the good guys and bad guys were doing. Our planet is facing overpopulation, and the main message of this book is What are we going to do about it?? And it is quite an impossible question to answer. I’ll let you make up your minds about that one…

“..”consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million. And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year er ‘re adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.”
― Dan BrownInferno

Overall, a good storyline, just the writing let it down. I’m hoping to go see the movie that will be released soon, and am actually starting to think that the movie could be better. The interesting plot line is there, and I think it will be better represented on the big screen.

Why you should read it: If you’re a Dan Brown reader, you’ve probably already read it, but if you haven’t, you still could. It’s definitely not a favourite of mine, but I do like the history, and renaissance side of it, and found it to be an enjoyable read.

Rating:   star_rating_3-5_of_5

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Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs

LibraryOfSouls_final_300dpi.jpgAuthor: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, photography, Sci-fi, Historical fiction

Thoughts: Amazing, amazing, amazing! That’s what I thought of not just this book, but its entire series. I thought this was the perfect finish to this series, it tied everything up and was just super amazing. Library of Souls picked up right where the last book left off, which I really like about this series. It’s not like it skips a bit and then restarts – it could literally be the next chapter of the last book.

“It had become one of the defining truths of my life that, no matter how I tried to keep them flattened, two-dimensional, jailed in paper and ink, there would always be stories that refused to stay bound inside books. It was never just a story.”
― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

This book definitely had a new and different feel about it than the other two. Not as eerie, I don’t think, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I did like the creepiness of the last two books, and it may just be me getting used to all the information.

So, plot lines… I’ll just say, it starts with a bang. Still following our main character, Jacob learns more about his peculiarity, and we learn more about him. After this passes, it is still action packed. Something new and exciting happens basically every page. And now, for the climax. It had me on the edge of my seat, it was so nail-biting. Some twists and turns happen, a few new found friends, and some betrayals as well, all mix together to create one big ending for this series. It kept me reading, as I thought it was all resolved, and then something went wrong, and then they fixed that, and something went REALLY wrong, and then somehow, all the loose ends were tied up. I also really liked the ending of the book. A nice finish to this series

“An opportunist disguised as a friend can be every bit as dangerous as an outright enemy.”
― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

Another reoccurring setting in the series is Victorian England, which I always find interesting to read about – and this time it was the slums (Devil’s Acre). The descriptions Riggs give are amazing, painting the picture right into my head. A lot of new information was included in this book, which was nice to learn. We discover more about the time loops, including the infamous ‘panloopticon’. It was a nice touch, using the original idea of a panopticon, (A building, where all residents can be observed by a single person, without them knowing they are being watched)

“There was, in fact, a street sign to that effect—the first I’d seen in all of Devil’s Acre. Louche Lane, it read in fancy handwritten script. Piracy discouraged.
“Discouraged?” I said. “Then what’s murder? Frowned upon?”
“I believe murder is ‘tolerated with reservations.’ ”

― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

One significant factor I did miss in this novel was the original set of peculiar characters. I loved all their relationships, and it’s nice when all is resolved. Also, for a lot of the last two books, Miss Peregrine herself has not been present, which I find a little annoying just because I like her so much. I believe she may be my favourite character (she’s just so quirky and intense, and just altogether awesome!!) We did meet a few more characters, including some more peculiars, and the new ‘bad guys’. A certain boatman named Charon was a nice little touch, using a bit of Greek Mythology, which is one of my favourite things to read about.

And last thing, the photos. I think the entire series has used them very effectively, especially the first book, but this book was definitely not a let down. I like the ones depicting peculiar children the most. Basically, I think this should be the next ‘big’ series – it’s that good. I loved the characters, the setting, and the genre. It was a fantasy book mixed with a bit of sci-fi – my favourite! It also ended well. Everything was resolved perfectly and it was the perfect ending for a perfect series.

Why you should read it: I think I’ve already mentioned everything there is to love about this book. Basically, if you’re a fantasy reader, enjoy sci-fi, or are just looking for a relatively short young adult series, this should be the thing you pick up.

Rating:    star_rating_4-5_of_5

Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

Title: Hollow City

hollow_city_novel_coverAuthor: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, photography, Sci-fi, Historical fiction

Thoughts: Just wow… This series just keeps continuing to impress me. The intricate plot line, and character developments, mixed in with vintage photographs, and the overall creepy feeling to this book and its series… I literally could not put this down.

“This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.”  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23164983-hollow-city

Still following our main character, Jacob Portman, he and his newly found peculiar friends have to travel to London to help their beloved guardian, Miss Peregrine. Hollow City quite literally starts where the first book left off. It was a very engaging story, and every chapter, I would get to the end, meaning to put it down, and then something else exciting would happen, reeling me back in.

“Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

The storyline, while it can be confusing in parts, is very imaginative. The descriptions of the monstrous Hollowgast were amazing, and I particularly liked this book because of the setting – London. Having been there myself, I could easily picture the landmarks and streets as they passed them, like St Paul’s cathedral, meaning I got a much better feeling of where the Peculiars were. And then to the actual characters themselves. I feel like they’ve all grown so much since the first novel, and I could actually notice the change in them. I began to forget that it had only been like a week since Jacob met them all, and that this novel only took place in the midst of 48 hours. It was crazy. So many things have happened.

For anyone worried about spookiness or creepiness in this series, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up. While the pictures add to the overall eerie plot, it was just the right amount of scary for me. Not enough to give me nightmares or anything, but definitely something where I was on the edge of my seat. And again, the vintage looking photos Ransom Riggs has used so effectively, brings this story to life. While there were a few sad ones near the beginning that were a bit hard to look at, they most definitely helped get across the message that he wanted to convey with them, and I really, really love the way that he weaves them into the story so smoothly that sometimes you don’t even notice there’s been a break in words, and suddenly you have the clearest image in your mind of what you’ve just read. I’ve never read any other books that use this method, and I really find it effective.

“Some truths are expressed best in the form of myth.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

And now for the big finish!! What a twist! I was fooled the entire way through the book, believing they would get some sort of resolution when… BOOM – twist ending. I did not see it coming at all. And it left me feeling excited for the next book, Library of Souls. Lucky I’ve already got it at home…

I think the only reason why this book could be any better than Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is that little extra bit of action. This entire book is full to the brim with it, every chapter something new and exciting happening. While in the first book, there was the few introductory paragraphs, setting the scene and characters, and then a few chapters here and there, Hollow City was an explosive book, that kept me engaged the whole time.

“I liked this idea: that peculiarness wasn’t a deficiency, but an abundance; that it wasn’t we who lacked something normals had, but they who lacked peculiarness. That we were more, not less.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

Why should read it? Obviously, if you’ve read the first one, definitely go on reading the rest of the series… It’s good. And for anyone who is worried it isn’t their thing, or too creepy, don’t worry. I had the exact same thoughts as I picked the first book up for the first time, and am very, very glad I did. This is one of those books that, if it were known, would be the next big thing. 

Book in a word: Engaging

Rating: Star_rating_4.5_of_5.png