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The Good Times Are Killing Me

I'm a nerdy girl with too much time on her hands, and too many books on her to-read pile.

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Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm
Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm, Lucy Crane, Walter Crane
Natasha Wimmer, Roberto Bolaño


Inferno - Dan Brown I want to start this review by saying that, unlike what seems to be the general consent in the educated world, I don’t hate Dan Brown’s books. On the contrary, I find him to be the perfect complement to a lazy sunny afternoon, especially now that we have a hammock on the terrace and everybody else seems to be too busy to take full advantage of it. The fact that once again Brown decides to play it safe in terms of plot, pacing and character development just adds to the enjoyment I felt while reading “Inferno”: There was nothing new to encounter and therefore, I could simply watch the words fly by while trying not to fall asleep and fall from the hammock. (It’s happened more than once, I’m a messy hammock sleeper)Here’s the rundown of every Langdon book I’ve read:1. Evil genius concocts a convoluted plan to “improve” the world and leaves a trace of clues based on symbols, historic figures, works of art, and monuments. 2. Robert Langdon is summoned to decipher the riddle, and ends up in a race against the clock alongside a sidekick, (which is usually a smart and pretty woman with a hidden relationship to the central, evil plot) 3. Langdon finds out that nothing is what it seemed to be at first, solves the mystery, and encounters a twist ending. 4. There’s a reflection about the villain’s noble intentions, and the way his plans had changed the world.5. The end.“Inferno” follows this structure to the letter. The place of the historical figure is occupied by Dante Alighieri, whose Divine Comedy has inspired the evil guy to look for a definitive solution to what sees as the ultimate threat of the human race: overpopulation. With the aid of a corporation called The Consortium he hides in Florence for a year (I think, could have been longer) and, by the time he is discovered, has put in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to reducing the human population of earth to what the villain thinks of as “manageable” levels. The leading ladies in “Inferno” are Sienna Brooks, a former childhood prodigy with lots of untreated traumas and whose outstanding IQ doesn’t prevent her from being lectured by Langdon on pretty much everything, and Elizabeth Sinskey, head of the World Health Organization and arch nemesis of our beloved villain. Both women are beautiful, smart, accomplished, and crippled by traumatic experiences that came across as cheap and clumsy attempts to give them some depth. Where does it say that, in order to give a woman dimension as a character, she needs to have suffered some kind of sexual assault? Sienna’s problems were justified enough without that stupid rape scene, but apparently there was no other way to portray her vulnerability. Bullshit. In the case of Elizabeth, I can sort of understand the link between her sterility problems and the ultimate twist of the story, but it wasn’t executed properly. The woman pines against her lost chance at motherhood as if she had lost the one thing that defined her as a woman, and against which not even her incredible professional accomplishments could measure up. While reading her story all I could think of was “If she has such a strong desire to be a mother, why couldn’t she have adopted a freaking kid????” What does that say for all of us with no desire to be parents? Are we wired wrong? Are we less women for that? The whole thing pissed me off, and it could’ve been handled better. Ultimately, they both play the part represented by every other woman paired with Langdon in each of his adventures, and achieve the same amount of success. Having said all this, I also found some redeeming qualities in “Inferno” that connvinced me to give it three stars. For starters, it’s better than the incoherent mess called “The Lost Symbol”, whose stupidity moved me to tears. The use of Dante Alighieri as the pivotal figure of the story was effective, and the pace was fast enough to keep me guessing and turning the page, which is exactly what I look for in a Langdon book. And even though his “LOOK AT ME, I’M SMAAAAAART” attitude rubs me the wrong way sometimes, I do like Robert Langdon as a character. He’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but gets the job done (and by “job” I mean, he doesn’t fuck up in ways that make me want to kill him). All in all, an average book, with some interesting questions about the future of the human race and enough elements to distract you during an otherwise lazy evening, assuming you try to look past grammatical errors and the style of writing that makes Dan Brown infamous among certain circles.