“Origin” is Dan Brown’s 7th novel, the 5th starring Robert Langdon. Sometimes I feel it will be more refreshing if Dan Brown can introduce a new character to his stories. In “Origin”, Robert’s friend Edmond was making an announcement in Spain which would answer the two basic questions: Where did we come from? Where are we going? It was promised to threaten people’s faith in religions. But Edmond was assassinated shortly after the presentation had started. Then the rest of the story was about how Robert solved all the puzzles and revealed Edmond’s findings to the public.
Like other Dan Brown’s novels, Robert Langdon had a time critical mission to achieve in “Origin” – to reveal a 47-character password to unlock Edmond’s presentation, accompanied by Ambrae, the curator of Guggenheim Museum where Edmond’s event was held. Ambrae was also the fiancee of the prince of Spain – the future queen. The relationship between Robert and Ambrae could be further expanded but the book just let it pass plainly. A surprise is Edmond’s A.I. assistant, Winston, who kept feeding information to Robert and helping him to navigate Barcelona.
As compared to Dan Brown’s other novels, “Origin” does not have that many symbols and secrets to uncover. You may simply view it as a thriller, but with a 45-minute TED Talk at the end. As usual, Dan tried to set up the suspense in his own style – an expected text message in the mobile, a surprised email in the computer, a voice of someone unbelievable was heard from the other end of the phone … But all these become bluffs without details and readers just can’t join the dots together. However, with only a few characters in the story, it’s not hard to guess who was behind all the drama.
The main problem of “Origin” is the over-promise of Edmond’s discovery to the answers of the two basic questions. But is it such a big deal whether human are created by God or by Nature? I think most of us will still live as normal no matter what the answers are. Worse, the final truth revealed was based on an existing theory and not a new concept. It will be more controversial if human were seeded on earth by aliens. And for the “where are we going” part, I really don’t think a hybrid of human and technology can be regarded as a new species.
There are a few unrelated sections in the book that are simply for making up the number of pages – those updates in ConspiracyNet.com, the subplot about the the king and prince of Spain. And it’s far too simple and easy to manipulate the killer for the assassination. As a whole, “Origin” is a good read in your spare time, but don’t expect it to be the same level as Dan Brown’s earlier books – “The DeVici Code” and “Angel and Demon.”