I just finished Dan Brown’s latest novel Origin… I’m underwhelmed and here’s why,
Ok, so I’m a huge Dan Brown loyalist generally so just know where I’m coming from here is a place of love but ergh this one was just so ? Lacklustre? Bland? Boring???
I’ve read all of his previous books not just his Langdon series and he writes to a formula a very precise formula.
The formula is as follows ( for his non-Langdon books just replace Langdon with main character)
- Something is discovered that will majorly upset world politics/beliefs when it’s released ( think fossil proves aliens are real type discoveries)
- Langdon in someway is connected to the person who discovered the breakthrough
- Person who made the breakthrough is killed
- Langdon takes it upon himself to solve his friends death even though there’s no question that the friend has been murdered and the proper authorities are investigating it so there’s actually no reason to get involved
- There’s a hot sidekick ( in the Langdon series this characters description hardly even changes)
- Langdon and the sidekick discover specific clues that directly relate to Langdon’s speciality which is symbology
- The clues take them to heaps of different iconic locations ( think famous landmarks and buildings)
- There’s an outcast type villain
- The outcast is being controlled by mysterious “big bad” who usually betrays and kills them
- Big bad is someone they knew all along and trusted
- Langdon solves the case and discovers the big scientific breakthrough
- Langdon doesn’t get the hot side kick and nothing’s changed in the world after the discovery in the next book
Okaaay so.. all the books follow this formula and generally I’ve found it’s okay. You do generally know what’s going to happen and the plot twists are really predictable. However I’ve always found his books redeemed themselves in the interesting ideas they are based around.
Origin centres around the death of a futurist who has discovered the meaning of life as such. He has also developed really advanced artificial intelligence which is a super interesting aspect to the story since the AI is a character in its own right and helps Langdon along the way.
The thing that irked me this time was I guess that it’s just more of the same, I feel like Dan Brown tackles these big questions. Science vs religion. On the surface it looks like he’s had some really original ideas but in reality he only ever poses the what if questions since we never see a world where these discoveries have been released. We never see a world where people are living with the knowledge of the meaning of life. Quite often I’ve found myself discussing with friends the ideas in Browns books, which makes for interesting conversations, but in reality we are doing all the hard work ; thinking of all the implications that just don’t seem that critical in the books if they are mentioned at all.
A big part of the formula is mixing “facts” into the narrative. Generally these are facts about history or different religious groups in relation to architecture. These do add interest to the story but they make the reading hard work at times just because you can find yourself sifting through the information for what’s actually relevant to the story. Also I’m not a historian but I do hear a lot of criticism that the facts are quite widely inaccurate.
So basically that’s my experience with Origin. I was pretty disappointed and I really hope Dan Browns next book is totally new and explores the science vs religion debate with a bit more substance and with more at stake but.. the formula sells , so I don’t think it will change and who am I kidding? I’ll be buying it 🙊