Here I am again, shamelessly reading another Dan Brown thriller. I think I’ve read all his books and while I wouldn’t call myself a fan his books never fail to entertain. Origin is another solid attempt by Dan Brown and it hits all the marks you would expect from a Robert Langdon Book. Religious sects, symbology classical art and literature, a life or death chase around a European city and also some sort of scientific leap that may or may not be real all are hallmarks of the adventures of Robert Langdon, symbologist/Indiana Jones.
Origin takes us to a new country, Spain, which I don’t think we’ve been to with Mr Langdon, as he mostly brings us to Italy. In Bilbao and Barcelona we see the confluence of art, god and meticulous human planning and balance, which it sort of metaphorical in this book if you can try and find metaphor in a Dan Brown novel. Brown explores the idea of artificial intelligence through Edmond Kirsch, a genius computer scientist and the linchpin of the novel as he announces a discovery that will change the world and destroy and hope that mankind may find in religion. The ideas in this book are based around some pretty loose computer science that Brown must have found hypothesised in some obscure article or journal and decided to use it to kill god. It’s an interesting thought experiment, given that this technology exists what would it be used to discover? But I wouldn’t cite Origin as a source for a research paper.
The plot, which is what I read this books for, was actually pretty good. On the whole it wasn’t surprising (shocker:the beautiful woman who accompanies Langdon on his quest accidentally falls in love with him) but there were a few plot points that surprised me and kept me on my toes.
The aspect that interested me the most was the idea of do we really need faith? Obviously I don’t need to explain that religion is so ingrained in our cultures and physches that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But what if a discovery happened that caused everyone to lose faith in their God, what would the world be like? This resonated with me particularly as I read it in the lead up of the Pope’s visit to Ireland. I concluded we’d be fine without God, but that’s just my opinion. An interesting twist Brown added to the book was the ‘Atheist Terrorist’, who commits acts of terror against the faithful. To the best of my knowledge this is not a thing, but as we all know there are extremists in every camp and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became one.
Origin received a fair bit of criticism from the Roman Catholic community, criticism that Brown is no stranger to. However, it would be unfair to say that Origin targets the Catholic church.Its villain is the Palmarians, a catholic illuminati style splinter group that the RC church does not under any circumstance associate with. I know this for a fact as when we covered cults in religion class in my catholic school, we were shown a documentary about the palmarians and were told they were very bad indeed. The Palmarians are a perfect Dan Brown villain, creepy, culty and mysterious but with historic ties to one of the most recognised, influential and oldest of the worlds organisations.
All in all pretty good, a solid attempt by Dan Brown if very formulaic.
Three stars ***