Title: Origin (Robert Langdon #5)
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Adult mystery-thriller
Published: By Bantam Press on October 3rd, 2017
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that ‘will change the face of science forever’. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. This evening is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence.
But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
In order to evade a tormented enemy who is one step ahead of them at every turn, Langdon and Vidal must navigate labyrinthine passageways of hidden history and ancient religion. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried – until now.
How can anyone resist that synopsis? I, for one, couldn’t. This has the trademark beautiful, intelligent woman and culturally rich city setting that Brown’s audience expects. I had really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol by him in the past. Although Inferno was my least favourite, I was hoping that was a one-off thing and looked forward to Origin. I pre-ordered the electronically signed hardcover edition because I was that excited for its release. I was hoping to fall in love with Langdon all over again in this story.
The sense of mystery, danger and hidden symbolism which had previously impressed me was missing in this. Origin goes to show how formulaic Brown’s thrillers have become. My biggest frustration with this book is that there wasn’t enough of a plot. There was no trail of clues, with Langdon scrambling to decipher the hidden symbology behind each of them. I felt like everything was too convenient and the danger over too quickly. The book felt unnecessarily long and some parts of it felt very repetitive. That said, I’ve still given it a mighty 4 stars because I am so much wiser for having read this book. Brown’s knack for research and building a plot around major works of science, art, literature and architecture is the reason why I pre-ordered this book. The science in The Lost Symbol inspired me, Inferno scared me and Origin has enlightened me. Through its pages I know of Spain’s history and the works of William Blake as well as Antoni Gaudi. I am amazed by how much this book has made me think and I can only imagine the kind of conversations this book will spark. Brown uses his literary stardom to bring to the fore some of the fundamental problems that plague humanity, and I applaud him for his efforts. All in all, not the best thriller on the planet, but definitely a great thought-provoking read.
I would recommend it mostly to Dan Brown fans, those who enjoy science-related thrillers and atheists. This book is a great excuse to explore Spanish delicacies and Spanish music. I’m trash for Enrique Iglesias, but you can even put on a flamenco number if that’s what you like.
Dan Brown is an author whom people love to hate or hate to love. Which category do you fall into? What did you think of Origin, if you’ve read it? Have you read any of his other books? Let me know in the comments section below.