In this book, the reader is introduced to some fascinating concepts. We are told at the outset that 'ignorance is no longer a forgivable offense', for instance, and 'the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis'. The question is posed: 'What if God was wrong'? In that case, 'Abandon hope all you who enter here' is an appropriate quote from Dante's Divine Comedy (which is not a comedy at all) and we are all on the brink of certain doom whether or not Robert Langdon catches the Transhumanist or not. However, he is hot on the heels of a man with concerns about escalating human
consumption, and who has some good statistics about Population Apocalypse Equations. There are some good lines about water requirements, global surface temperature, ozone depletion, consumption of ocean resources, species extinction, carbon dioxide saturation and deforestation. Some of the characters are as extraordinary as their ideals: the enigmatic Sienna Brooks, the odd Elizabeth Sinskey, the dedicated scientist, Bertrand Zobrist, whose green eyes 'held all the mysteries of the world in their depths', but no-one is as you would expect, not even Robert Langdon!
There are lots of twists in the plot, as one would expect from Dan Brown. 'Symbols are very adept at hiding the truth' evidently and we are pushed into examining our expectations and assumptions, and into considering some upside down morality codes and, of course, nothing is ever as it appears to be! Chapters race like jet fighters as we are presented with a death by shooting on the first page, Robert Langdon's life is hanging by a thread by page two, only to be rescued by a heroine, a Lara Croft character on page three, and so by the end of the book, we have been up for several nights facing the most horrendous death imaginable every hour. The book is a joy for researchers (Loreena McKennett is Robert Langdon's favourite living recording artiste, and Bombay Sapphire and Gogol should never be mixed), for those who have visited Venice, Florence, Istanbul, the descriptions are a joy. Fiat! 'Sing in me muse and through me tell the story'.... Exhausting - but wonderful - and I'm signing up for my tattoo because it's all so true, and so real that I was almost in tears due to the successful outcome!
Dan Brown is the bestselling author of Digital Fortress, Deception Point, Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he has taught English and Creative Writing. He lives in New England. Reviewer: Wendy Stokes www.wendystokes.co.uk