Years ago, I fell in love with the Robert Langdon stories. The Da Vinci Code was one of my favorite books – so good that I read it twice (did you know there’s an illustrated version?). Since then, I’ve managed to pick up every Robert Langdon story that Dan Brown wrote. Some were instant favorites (Angels & Demons) and others, well, I managed to finish them (The Lost Symbol). When I heard that Origin was coming out, I vowed to buy it. When I saw the price on Kindle, I vowed to buy it another time. Then when I saw that I could get a 40% discount on the hardcover with my Barnes & Noble membership, I told the cashier to “shut up and take my money” (not really, but I did buy it that day).
Origin is the tale of Robert Langdon (duh) and his yet-again race against time to decode the truth. This time, there was less decoding than we saw in The Da Vinci Code or Inferno. He’s joined again by another leading lady as they try to expose the scientific findings of a dear friend who had a vendetta against religion. There’s so much more to the plot and I don’t want to spoil too much of it, so I’ll leave it at that.
At first glance, the plot seems the same as the other Robert Langdon stories – leading lady, race against time, an outside force trying to stop them. But I think that is to be expected from a mystery series. The James Bond plots didn’t deviate much from this formula either, so I won’t hold it against Origin.
The thing to remember about Dan Brown’s books is that they come with a lot of detail and accuracy in describing those details. Artwork, locations, scientific notions. Many times, I had to put down this book and Google art pieces because my brain couldn’t conjure up what Dan Brown was describing. Then I felt incredibly dumb because once I saw the picture on my phone, I realize Brown was accurate in his descriptions and I’m just not intelligent or cultured enough to grasp it in my imagination. But I didn’t hold that against Origin either.
What did I hold against Origin? The fact that I guessed who the puppet master running the show was about 100 pages deep. Now, that’s not to say that it was blatantly obvious to anyone because I’m sure it’s not. I just watch a lot of movies and have seen this particular plot point played out in a few different ways, so I had my suspicions early on. The other thing is, the big reveal at the end – the one that Robert Langdon was striving so hard for throughout the book – was sort of a letdown and felt more preachy than astounding. But maybe that’s just me.
Overall, I enjoyed the ride, even if the most surprising twist to me was something that was brushed over so lightly, I had to read it twice to make sure that’s what Brown was going for. Robert Langdon stories are always fun and I tend to learn a few things along the way about history and art. It’s clear that Brown invests deeply in his books and makes sure every detail is crafted to a tee. As a writer, I appreciate that careful attention to the story and it makes for a great adventure.