ORIGIN – Is Dan Brown losing his magic?

After a long wait for nearly four years post Inferno (2013), Everyone’s favorite mystery hunter and code solving genius Robert Langdon is back with his new adventure. Armed with his unmatched knowledge in the fields of religious iconology and symbology – along with his eidetic memory, Professor Langdon is all set to save the world again from yet another earth shattering event.

Here is our take on Dan Brown’s newest novel Origin – which was launched worldwide on October 3rd 2017.

Plot summary – without much spoilers!

From the beginning of mankind, humans have always looked for the answers of two basic questions regarding their existence – Origin and the Destiny – Where did we come from? Where are we going?

Early humankind had invented the concept of Gods and Religions to answer these questions, and modern minds have discovered scientific theories like Big bang and evolution for the same purpose. And thus the conflict between religion and science began.

The primary difference between Religion and Science is that Religion wants people to believe it’s theories with blind faith, but Science demands repeatable and irrefutable proofs to establish a theory.

However, scientific theories like evolution only explains how simple single cell life-forms evolved into complex life forms. It does not explain how life itself began from scratch. Science has never been able to explain how lifeless ingredients in early universe created life, and so, the exact Origin of life is still widely believed by billions to be the divine design of God.

Thus, when a globally renowned and celebrated inventor and scientist Edmond Kirsch (probably a fictional version of Elon Musk) claimed that he has discovered an unmistakable scientific proof which clearly answers the Origin and the Destiny of humanity – and he would make his discovery public in 3 days, it shook the world to the core along with most prominent and powerful religious institutions in the world.  

Just before the grand unveiling of the discovery in Spain, Edmond Kirsch was mysteriously assassinated. The only way to find the discovery and the people behind the assassination is by cracking a password which will be able to unlock Edmond’s secure smartphone.

Robert Langdon gets tangled in the incident in a usual wave of mysteries and secret codes and must race across Spain to crack the password by finding clues in Edmond’s massive collection of art and literature pieces from 18th century – so that Edmond’s discovery can be released to the world.

The Good

No one can deny that Dan Brown’s novels are gripping, fast-paced, thought provoking and can successfully keep the reader on the edge. The same is true about Origin as well. The plot starts slow and builds up quickly after first few chapters, and then continues the pace till the end of the story.

There are plenty of detail on the subjects, locations, history and artworks mentioned in the book. The backgrounds of all locations, artworks and technologies are well researched and well explained in usual Dan Brown manner.

The background development of all the key characters in the novel is well defined – except Robert Langdon himself. Apart from Spanish locations and history, the Novel covers the Spanish Royal Family and geopolitical setup of Spain reasonably well. The Conflict between Spain’s conservative royal family values and a reformative young generation is well portrayed.

The novel also covers the dangers of social media. It shows the fact that we are living in an era where people’s opinion and judgment can be cleverly manipulated via social media using strategically fabricated lies.

Dan Brown, in his trademark style, has blended Philosophy, History, Art, Puzzles, Science, Politics, Religion and Conspiracy theories into Origin and the book clearly shows his grand effort behind blending all these together.

The Bad

The readers who are new to Dan Brown novels will not notice the inferior sides of Origin, but any long time Dan Brown reader will not be able to deny that he writes all his plot points following a specific formula – and Origin is no exception.

In a Typical Dan brown formula, the book starts with a short Prologue portraying an event having some kind of shock value. Right after the prologue, the book focusses on the Robert Langdon, who finds himself in trouble, and along with a female lead character he runs across multiple historical venues in 24 hours by evading authorities. Each location he sets his foot into reveals a major clue which eventually leads to the grand unveiling of the mystery.

The Formula also ensures that the “Potential bad guy” is not the real villain at the end, The Villain is usually someone who appears to be friendly with the protagonist from the beginning – this trait can be seen in all Dan brown novels, even in Deception Point and Digital Fortress which does not feature Robert Langdon.

Origin also follows the same formula (With some variation).

While this is not a problem if we look at the novel from stand-alone perspective, the problem is – after several novels, this formula is not working anymore, especially for a thriller. Dan Brown readers will be able to identify the antagonist very easily even before reaching halfway across the novel, due to the familiar plot structure.

Dan Brown also re-used some of his plot points from earlier novels. Like the conflict between Science and Church – Haven’t we seen it already in Angels and Demons?  The Attempt from church to silence an earth shattering discovery (The Da Vinci Code), Political conspiracy (Deception point), even a Supercomputer with massive computation power (Digital Fortress).

The Ugly

The most deal breaking part of Origin is the conclusion of the novel. The pace and buildup was great. But at the end of the novel, when Edmond’s discovery is being revealed to the readers, it turned out to be not quite “earth-shattering” and can be safely designated as underwhelming as per my opinion. The “discovery” was not quite worth the hype the plot was promising from the beginning (Claiming it to be as earth-changing as the discoveries of Copernicus, or Darwin) and the revelation does not do justice to the grand buildup.

Dan Brown’s previous novels The Lost Symbol and Inferno had similar underwhelming conclusions which were disliked by many readers. In fact the ending of Inferno was changed in the movie version to make it more appealing to the viewers.

One can certainly assume that the ending of the Origin was rushed, or the author went out of ideas to conclude the novel in a way which could have done justice to the rest of the novel.

Final words

Origin is a good novel, but does not stand out when compared to the previous Dan Brown novels. We cannot even place it in top 3 Dan Brown novel list. Origin may seem appealing to first time Dan Brown readers, but for the rest it’s just an average Dan Brown novel.

Dan brown should come out of the usual formula and start experimenting with new approaches of storytelling. Lack of fresh new ideas and innovation is apparent in Origin. Robert Langdon has to evolve in a world where only the fittest survives.

Dan Brown’s destiny does not look hopeful no matter how bright his origin was.



Manas Saha

Manas is a software engineer who is also a Travel addict, Technology and News enthusiast, and has deep interest in Science, Photography and Movies.

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