Monday, 14 October 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown

 "Abandon your boring world, all ye who enter here!"- here is a slightly calibrated version of Dante Alighieri's quote, from his famous work 'Inferno' which says to abandon all hope before entering into hell. My tweaked version would suit to be the opening quote of Inferno (the book), because the reader would be completely oblivious of all the worldly events happening around him/her. Yes, the book is so gripping and keeps you glued till you turn the last page..! I have been wanting to read Inferno ever since I saw the trailer for the book  and it claimed to be "One HELL of a read"- and for me, it surely was; both literally and metaphorically.

Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital bed in Florence,with no recollection of how he got into a hospital johnny, with bandages all over and a searing pain in his head. The Harvard professor tries to find out what has happened to him, while encountering a series of events similar to  that of what  Phil, Stu and Alan goes through in the hit comedy 'The Hangover'. Robert Langdon even comes across a security footage which shows himself stealing a priceless artefact from a museum the previous night, which he has no recollection of.
But this time, it is not the roofies, but rather it is a bullet wound which scrapes through the back of his head.

Langdon is in possession of a metal cylinder with a bio hazard symbol, that references the Italian poet Dante's poem 'The Divine Comedy'. Langdon is accompanied by Dr Sienna Brooks, who first saves his life from a spiky haired woman assassin, who is close on his heels almost throughout the book. The duo tries to uncover a series of puzzles with the help of Langdon's wide knowledge about history, cryptic symbols, and literature and paintings.

Bertrand Zobrist, the villain of the book , is a brilliant genetic scientist, with an extremely radical theory regarding the world population, and how it is moving towards a catastrophic extinction of the homo sapiens. The villain commits suicide early in the book, but after creating a carcinogenic masterplan to thin down the world population. Zobrist sees overpopulation as a deadly disease, which has to be reduced, so as to prevent the extinction of human species. So, the scientist, who also happens to be a Dante aficionado, sets into motion a series of events which will finally lead to the triggering of a virus, which will wipe out more that one third the world population, and thus help regain the balance of the earth.

Akin to its predecessors, Inferno weaves magic with the compelling fusion of fact and fiction. Even though, the the level of detailing of certain historical places, or artefacts can be a little boring at times, the heart racing twists at various levels will make up for it. Besides, providing an extensive account of European history, art and literature, the book also provides a virtual tour of the three most beautiful cities of Europe- Florence, Venice and Istanbul. Moreover, the book also provides a though provoking purview regarding population explosion, and raises questions regarding morality and ethics. Whether it is okay sacrificing a few for the good of many.Or if, the humanity has to take control of its evolution..

Sunday, 6 October 2013

One Hundred Years Of Solitude

The thick, silver-fish covered book, stood slanting to its right on the dusty bookshelf..What made me pick this up from the library...? I really don't know.... It was not because of the reviews or cover which quoted one of the most influential (no, controversial would be more apt) writers  of our times saying the book to be the best fiction ever written in the last fifty years or so. No, wait.. it's Santiago Nasser...! yes Santiago is the unforgettable protagonist of the book "The Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Marquez. I picked up the book, expecting to meet somebody like him.. But One Hundred Years of Solitude is  a whole new level.. The book is overwhelming and not something you can read carelessly. It requires determination, (and lots of it..!) and intense concentration, and a librarian kind enough to allow you the book well past the deadline..!

One Hundred Years of Solitude narrates the history of a small village called Macondo, located somewhere in the Latin America. The story focuses on the Buendia family, the founders of the village. The village is fully preoccupied with itself, and it has no sort of connection with the outside world except for the gypsies who come from time to time with new inventions like ice, telescopes and always keeps the villagers awestruck with their magic. Jose` Arcadio Buendia, the head of the Buendia family, is always intrigued by Melquiades and his team of gypsies, who drops by with new technologies. Jose Arcadio is an introspective and highly inquisitive person who spends most part of his life on scientific pursuits and gives little importance to his family. Her wife, Ursula portrays a very strong character of motherhood, grand motherhood, great- grandmother hood, great-great grandmotherhood, great- grea... ok, lets face it, she lives upto more than a hundred years and oversees the Buendia family for seven generations..!
Colonel Aureliano Buendia is the second son of Jose Arcadio Buendia and plays a very important role in the novel of a warrior who fights many wars in several countries and has fathered 17 Aurelianos (17 children, all boys, baptised under the name "Aureliano" )  in almost every town he has been to..! And the depiction of his life in the book is so detailed and meticulous that you actually feel sad when he dies.

Marquez narrates the story of the family, and the events of the village for over a century.Most events described in the book are major turning points in the lives of the Buendias. It includes a lot of births, deaths, marriages, love affairs and certain relationships that can make you cringe! (at some point in the story, it speaks of  a Buendia having affairs with his sister and even his aunt! ) The men and women have very unique and interesting characters, and we can even write a thesis regarding their character eccentricity..!

One of the most distinctive (and irritating!) part of this book is the names which keeps repeating and it all gets so confusing, forcing you to refer to the family tree at the start of the book. At some point of time, I have even silently prayed that a new son born to the Buendias  be not named as "Jose Arcadio" or "Aureliano"! 

The sense of satisfaction or the feeling of success that you get after reading this book is just tremendous. The book, is so rich with all the beautifully crafted descriptions with vivid details of the people and their life that,  once you get indulged, you will get completely lost from your own world.I would definitely recommend my fellow readers to read One Hundred Years Of Solitude before you die.But before you read this book, it would be wise to keep in mind that this book is not one which has a well-planned plot, single theme or timeline. The book does not concentrate on a single person, it also has  an unusual (or insanely confusing.!) theme which in the end tells us that time, or history, does not move in cycles, but also in circles.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Angels & Demons- Dan Brown

Hey, notice the title above..? It says "Angels & Demons" right? But if you look close enough, you can see that it can be read the same up-side down! Go on, try tilting your head and see the ambigram  for yourself ! If you are not so excited about this title, don't worry  I am sure that the book is going to get your adrenaline pumping !

Angels & Demons comes chronologically first in the Robert Langdon series succeeded by the Da Vinci Code. And like most of the readers I read this book after reading the Da Vinci Code. Once you meet the Mr Langdon, the Art Historian , you just can't help but crave for his adventures which happens in under 24 hours. Robert Langdon is woken up in the middle of the night and is summoned by the Maxmillian Kohler, the  director of CERN-the world's largest scientific laboratory in Geneva, located thousands of kilometers from Langdon's hotel room, to investigate the mysterious death of their senior particle physicist. The victim is branded with an ambigramic symbol written as "Illuminati". As symbols and secret societies is Langdon's expertise, he identifies it as a resurfacing of a secret society which was once history. The Illuminati is up against its most hated enemy- The Catholic Church and all set for the final phase of vendetta.

Leornado Vetra and his daughter Vittoria had made the world's first anti matter in a canister fueled by batteries to prevent contact with matter. The anti matter has the deadly capacity of wiping out and entire city if it comes to contact with matter.Examining Vetra's lab, it is found that the canister had gone missing from the highly secured laboratory, creating panic. The battery in the canister can only work for 24 hours when detached from power source- or it can turn into a weapon of mass destruction.

Langdon and Vittoria are set to find the Illuminatist and stop him before he destroys the Catholic Church forever. The art historian mazes through old archives and books to find clues to the relationship between the Church and the Illuminati, racing against time. Langdon and Vittoria hunts through sealed crypts, churches and cathedrals to save the Catholic Church.

 Totally action packed , this book sets your heart racing. But if you compare it to its successor, the Da Vinci Code, it doesn't even come close. Some of the actions in the book seem quite far fetched and sounds more like an action movie.Also you can feel the difference of perfection and detail from its successor.But it is still worth a read for Dan Brown's unique collaboration of fact and fiction.

And oh, what I loved the most about the book was its mind boggling ambigrams. It is so captivating that  I even created an ambigram of my name online..!! You can try it too . It is really cool.