Review: Origin

The fifth book in the Robert Langdon series follows the classic Brown model but explores themes that are disturbingly relevant. It asks the questions that will leave you thinking and provides answers that will chill you to the bone. 3.5/5*

An already well-known hero Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, finds himself in the midst of a new mystery when a billionaire and a renowned futurist invites him to attend an unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” Edmond Kirsch is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever.

I picked up this book almost automatically. I have read all of Dan Brown’s books and it’s become sort of a tradition to read his new releases. However, I am a bit more careful with my reading time these days with work, all my responsibilities and a never-ending TBR list. It dawned on me that an audiobook would be the perfect solution. So I decided to make Origin my Audiobook of the month for November.

I don’t particularly care much for Brown’s writing. He seems to follow the same structure model every time. He chooses a very specific topic he would like to explore and chooses a city where everything will take place. Then, Robert Langdon sets out on an unexpected adventure (surely, he must be wondering why these things keep happening to him. He is a symbologist for Christ’s sake). He meets an interesting and beautiful woman and solves the mystery step by step, utilising his knowledge of the chosen city’s history. Oh, and there is a dramatic plot twist at the end.

“Where do we come from?
Where are we going?”

Even though I know all this going in, I don’t mind it at all. I am here for the controversial topics Brown so expertly explores. That is the reason I love Inferno so much (mind you, the film is abysmal). Throughout the whole book, Brown tells the story from different point of views, keeping the reader in suspense all the time. Using this mechanic provides delayed gratification, never revealing anything too soon. It leaves you with a small cliffhanger at the end of every chapter.

The pacing of Origin is slow. Sometimes too slow for my taste. The first inclination of what is actually going on comes very late and if I were reading it, I would find it very annoying. There is a very slow beginning but the suspense of the mystery keeps you engaged. It picks up after you start sensing the first plot twist. However, about three quarters into the book it slows down again and you get a feeling that it just drags on for too long. I found myself thinking: ‘Just tell me the big revelation already!’

There are not many characters in Origin and even less of them are interesting. We already know Robert Langdon. His female companion Ambra does not seem to have much depth or complexity to her and Edmund Kirsch is more defined by his discovery in the book than actual character. The most interesting character in the whole story is the AI Winston. I will not spoil anything by going into much detail about him, but the addition of an AI companion makes the old and tried Brown model suddenly modern, relevant and exciting.

“Nothing is invented, for its written in nature first. Originality consists of returning to the Origin.” -Antoni Gaudí

Brown, as always, describes the chosen city in the most vivid detail. This time, the story takes place in Barcelona and I couldn’t be more excited. I experienced the city for the first time only this summer and it was love at first sight, so hearing about all the beautiful places made the story that much more personal and interesting to me. It is the incredibly thorough research about both the setting and the science that makes Brown’s book so entertaining. I felt like I was learning something new with every chapter.

And the science is the real hero of this book. I was left completely fascinated by the science vs. religion conflict and by the time I finally arrived at the point of the great revelation I was sitting on the edge of my seat. Brown doesn’t disappoint and delivers plot twist after plot twist in the final chapters, each more shocking than the last.

“There is only one way to triumph over death, and that is by making our lives masterpieces.”

Even though Browns model has been reused for many years, the themes of Origin feel extremely relevant to the point it is actually chilling. He even gave life to my personal worst nightmare. It goes deep in asking (and answering) the fundamental questions of being and its thrilling conclusion will definitely leave you deep in thought.

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