Book Title: Origin- A Novel
I’m a Dan Brown fan. Needless to say, I’ve read all his books & eagerly sifted hundreds of rumor mills every time he was writing a new book.One of the things that I like about Brown is his innate ability to thin the line between conspiracies & reality. You can always feel the adrenaline rush as you turn the pages. Unfortunately, Brown’s latest offering; Origin is a dud here. You never feel the tempo building, you never get a semblance of adrenaline rush in fact as you progress through the pages you can clearly predict the story-line.
Let’s delve into the story, Edmond Kirsch is a renowned technologist (having an uncanny resemblance to the real-life Elon Musk) famous for his Earth-shattering prophecies or so Brown wants you to believe. This time Kirsch is to reveal something that would render world’s religions obsolete. He has found answers to humanity’s biggest conundrum i.e, Where did we come from? Where are we going? The Futurist loves pomp & theatrics so he organizes a grand event at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao teeming with VIPs.
Here enters our protagonist; Robert Langdon, Professor of semiotics at the Harvard University with his new arm candy Ambra Vidal to save the day. The story then spins into a topsy-turvy tale of an alleged religiously motivated assassination involving the Spanish royal palace, a prominent Bishop who wields unusual influence over the King of Spain & a secretive Church in conflict with the new Pope’s liberal proclivities. Kirsch’s discovery is on the brink of being lost forever unless Langdon, Vidal & Kirsch’s AI assistant; Winston find a way to disseminate his finding to the world that sits on the edge as fake news & conspiracy theories are peddled from the netherworld of the internet.
On a different note, with a running commentary of fake news, Brown emphasizes its perils in a world unable to discern a glut of information birthing utter confusion that borders mass hysteria. Hillary Clinton’s e-mail controversy, Russians peddling fake news to influence US elections or back home the WhatsApp factory of fakery that keeps the communal cauldron simmering.
His latest offering Origin is by far his weakest; a lousy narrative, lacking creative depth & nuance, most importantly a half-baked Langdon thriller that feels it was rushed to meet some publishing deadline.
Brown’s other books like Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons & Lost Symbol were all criticised for conveniently blurring the line between reality & conspiracy theories. Whatever the accusations, all these novels had one thing in common; a riveting narrative making them perfect page-turners. Origin on the contrary never takes off, If you’re one among those who’ve followed Brown’s work closely you can sense predictability building up with every page instead of suspense & for heaven’s sake let’s not even get into the main plot that’s plainly inane & requires a profound degree of stupidity to even fathom. With the resources available at his disposal Brown could’ve certainly come up with something better.
With over 200 million copies sold since his world best-seller Da Vinci Code & a handful of Hollywood movies based on his books, Dan Brown is in a league of his own. Despite poor reviews & being panned down by critiques Origin would sell millions of copies worldwide & there lies the problem.
Authors like Dan Brown who have acquired a cult following continue to sell gibberish (this coming from a big-time fan) knowing well that their “pop-icon” status insulates their fortunes from tanking. He writes novels with the only intention that they can be seamlessly adapted as next Hollywood flick.
When story-telling takes a backseat in a novel then, you get an idiotic & unintelligent mumbo-jumbo like Origin.
Final words; read it, if you’ve no better ways to waste your time this holiday season (like me!).