Review – “Origin” by Dan Brown

Dan Brown needs no introduction. At some point in our lives, I assume, we’ve all heard of him and some have even read him. I have read all his books and was most impressed by them all, despite all the 4 books of the Robert Langdon series being in the same plot design. Origin by Dan Brown is no different. The recipe? A setting featuring a full part Robert Langdon, half a part intellectually sexy lady (preferably more than a decade younger than him), full part country with a tumultuous past and lots of historical and modern architecture and art which allows numerous conspiracy theories around them, a scintillating murder of a renowned person who happened to be Langdon’s close friend/known, a delusional assassin following close on the heels of our symbologist and his lady with attempts to silence them as well, a shadowy master ordering the kills, some religious groups and their over-zealous members, jet setting across the country/countries, full part of the ever raging war between religion and science and their flag bearers fighting over a dark/shocking secret and finally, the big reveal…all of this in the span of one night. Phew! Having read Origin now, I am pretty convinced that Mr. Brown has some really cool ideas and some really obvious theories. It’s like a guilty pleasure, reading his books, you admit and you feel guilty, you don’t admit and you feel guiltier. I had decided not to read any more of his books unless I get good reviews about it or he deviates from his overdone plot design, but given my mild OCD, before it turned to a monster demanding the book to be read, I caved in.

Langdon is in Spain, at the Bilbao Guggenheim museum for an event hosted by his student turned friend, the genius computer scientist Edmond Kirsch and the director of the museum, Ambra Vidal who is engaged to the future king of Spain. Kirsch’s guest list includes a variety of names, all of whom know him personally, including an exception, a not so important and out of place Admiral Luis Alvira. Needless to say, this unknown man kills Kirsch just before he was about to reveal a discovery so huge that it would have changed the way people looked at religion, both believers and non-believers alike. Now, running from the Royal guards because Ambra thinks her life is in danger, Langdon and she races against the killer and the police alike who are both after them, to silence them forever. With the motive of the killer quite clear yet his master still behind the curtains, Langdon and Ambra have every reason to doubt everyone who even remotely has any links to any religion.
What was Kirsch’s big discovery for which he lost his life? How will Langdon and Ambra save it from getting lost forever with Kirsch dead and apparently no one else in the world who knows what it was about!?

So, down goes the drain on my resolve of not reading any more of Robert Langdon’s stories. I just can’t stop myself! Having said this, I must also say that this is the book with which I can relate to more levels than any other of Mr. Brown’s works. Firstly, I believe I am an atheist. My entire life seems like a sham when I realized that humanity is above God. Didn’t I just spend my entire childhood praying to God for things I wanted and yet be mean to the ones less fortunate at times, or have mean thoughts at least!? No doubt I never got what I wanted because, duh, Karma! Secondly, like Mr. Brown, I too believe that an age of digital revolution like never before is just around the corner, a Digi-human or a humanoid or whatever one calls the people surviving it. And lastly, I believe that all religions are a sham. With their histories bloodier than the world wars (or so I feel because there is no end to “My God is mightier than yours”) and no respite in sight even though we live in 2020 (I am not getting started on this topic, too vast and debatable), there is nothing as dark as the religions of the world today, twisted and presented to the masses only to fulfill the lusts of a handful of people. Now the question is, what did I like about this book apart from the above-mentioned similarities in thought. I liked the theory on which the whole story is based. The transition from the murdered to the criminal while hopping across the country’s finest artistic and historical places with an AI as a super sidekick got the ball rolling for me and pretty detailed insight for amateurs like me who know practically nothing about world history. Not that I would remember all of what was said, but at least I would be able to recollect where I read something and go back and research if it interested me further. What I disliked was the preposterous amount of information and preachy dialogues. I’d be better off with some more conspiracy theories. And also, the same plot design as all Langdon stories. This story, in particular, had some loopholes which I could pick immediately after the completion, a new one for me considering I haven’t been able to pinpoint any fault in other Langdon books. I wouldn’t tell them here because it would be like giving spoilers. I’d say this was because I’ve now read 5 of similar stories and readily anticipate what is about to happen long before it happens. Not to mention, I figured out the shadowy master and most of the details once things were moving fast enough. I appreciate how smoothly Mr. Brown amalgamated science, technology, and religion with art and history, a seamless piece of clothing that fits beautifully for everyone. The characters were plenty, some had crucial but short roles, some were just present for the sake of variety, I think, given the length of the book. Each character had depth irrespective of its requirement. A depth that I found boring and unnecessary at times like it was placed there only to increase the length and put the reader away from the main plotline. Having read some fast-paced thrillers before picking this book up, my judgment might be clouded, but I don’t think I am wrong in saying that Mr. Brown tends to stretch the story as far as he can and then some more before realizing that it’s time. Have you read the book? What are your views? Do leave a comment and let me know.


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