Author: Dan Brown
Published: October 3, 2017
Available in Paperback: No (as of 2/26/18) but you can buy the ebook for significantly less
Genre: Mystery & Adventure
For my second book review of the year, I’ve chosen Origin by Dan Brown. This was not a book that my book club picked, however it had been on my list of must-reads since it came out in October. I really enjoy Dan Brown’s thriller novels featuring the eidetic mind of Harvard professor Robert Langdon. His novels are usually structured similarly… Something crazy happens to the attractive bachelor professor that ends up with him pairing with a beautiful woman to solve the crime/mystery/stop the bad guys. All of the Robert Langdon books can be said the same: Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Inferno.
In Origin, we find Robert Langdon summoned to Spain to see a presentation from one of his students, Edmond Kirsch, one of Langdon’s former students who has made a name for himself as a self-proclaimed atheist and futurist with amazing technology. He promises that his presentation is going to bring about the end of religion by answering the fundamental questions of existence: Where do we come from? Where are we going?
Of course, before these questions can be answered, mass chaos ensues leaving Robert with the beautiful, future queen of Spain in a rush to Barcelona to uncover the mysterious presentation before the night is over.
I was particularly excited about Origin after having spent the previous year in Spain, living in the country’s capital and of course traveling to Barcelona. It was fun to read about the places I had just visited. One of the best part of Dan Brown’s novels is that he is very accurate when he describes the locations, secret sects, organizations, architecture, and landscapes. He does a lot of meticulous research to describe the things in his novels, which is fun because you’re learning something while also being entertained!
Let me get down to my basic pros and cons of the novel:
Architecture is well described, accurate, and fun to learn about
Learned about different religious organizations
Easy read, people of all ages can enjoy it without difficulty
Chapters are always pleasantly short, so finding stopping points is easy
About half way through, when a major character’s history is revealed, the ending is easy to predict
I, personally, felt the novel was a bit difficult to power through (it took me like 3 months to finish – granted I read about 3 other books in between the start and finish of Origin)… To me, it moves slower than the other Robert Langdon novels and didn’t keep me as “hooked”
The big reveal isn’t that much of a reveal (IMO)
Left me feeling like, “Hmm. Ok, then.”
If you are interested in reading this novel, STOP READING MY REVIEW NOW and go pick up a copy! If you’ve already read it, or if for some reason my intriguing description above doesn’t tickle your fancy and you want to know more of my thoughts on the book, forge on ahead!
Ok, now that you’ve read my pros and cons, maybe you’re wondering just what I’m referencing… Here goes:
I loved the description of the Sagrada Familia. I thought that building was beautiful, and out of all of the beautiful places I visited in Spain, the beautiful basilica was my favorite. I did the audio tour (which I would highly recommend to anyone who visits! Either that or an actual tour with a guide!) and it was absolutely amazing. I felt so moved in the building and Dan Brown does a great job describing it, and all of Antoni Guadi’s buildings.
That was great. Most of the chapters tend to be under 5 pages too, which makes reading nice. I am the type of person who likes to stop at the end of a chapter, and Dan Brown makes that easy with those nice, short chapters. Another thing that makes Dan Brown’s novels nice is that they’re easy to read. You’re not going to find a lot of lyrical language in these books, but you’re also not going to be confused about what’s going on. It’s all right there in an easy to understand prose. (I read The Da Vinci Code as a 13 year old with no comprehension issues)
Ok, so when it’s revealed that Edmond Kirsch has cancer and was on the last leg of his life, I immediately assumed that he had himself assassinated to increase the drama and interest in his presentation with the assistance of his A.I. Winston. Winston even states that he predicted Edmond had no more than 9 days left to live. What better way to go out then by assassination at his own event? As it turns out, it was Winston who had Edmond assassinated because of Edmond’s programming directions to make the event as widespread as possible. Murderous A.I. unit? Check! Winston justifies his actions by citing the famous novella by John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, when George murders his mentally disabled friend, Lennie, out of love. Winston then proceeds to delete himself out of Edmond’s supercomputer at the novel’s end.
Also, I was not that impressed with all the hype of the presentation that claimed to eradicate religion… The answer to the question: Where do we come from? simply is “the universe”. According to the theory presented in the book, life sprouts up because the universe that’s ultimate goal is to create chaos and break down order and life is good at doing that. That’s essentially the idea. According to Kirche, this means that there is no ultimate creator and that life exists simply to break things down and therefore religion is no longer necessary. I wasn’t entirely convinced there. And the answer to the question: Where are we going? is technology. Huh? Apparently the reader is left to believe that the future is all about technology, which is not that unrealistic. Computers will do our bidding. Nanobots live in our blood to fight disease. Constant communication and access to information is our ultimate future. I was disappointed with this because I was thinking that there was some “afterlife” implications with the text and that was not the case. I wasn’t shocked by these answers, nor did I feel they lived up to the hype in the book.
Overall, I would give the book 3.5 stars. I was not shocked or surprised at the ending, but it was a fun (if slow) journey across Spain. The details were great and some of the characters were pretty interesting! Winston, the A.I., was cool and technology is certainly in our future (though I didn’t need Dan Brown to clarify that for me). If you’re into the Robert Langdon series and have an interest in Spain, pick it up and give it a read! I would also recommend checking it out from your local library because this book isn’t one that is HOT off the press, but it’ll be worth your time. There are certainly worse books out there!
Have you read Origin? What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Let me know in the comments!