What is the role of religion in the 21st Century? In the age of technology, when we are constantly confronted by a steady stream of breakthroughs and developments, what role should spirituality play? In his new book, Origin, Dan Brown explores these issues and so much more.
Imagine you have believed in something your entire life. Now, imagine that someone, in particular, an ardent atheist and futurist, not only denounces your beliefs but claims to have made a discovery that will rock the foundations of the world’s religions. How would you respond? With anger and righteousness or with a curious open mind? Would you be willing to listen? Would scientific proof convince you of the error of your ways?
That is the world we readers step into in Origin. Dan Brown, through his protagonist, Robert Langdon of The Da Vinci Code and Inferno fame, attempts to tackle some of the fundamental questions of our time. Like all Dan Brown novels, Langdon is accompanied by yet another talented, stunningly beautiful woman and is opposed by a villain who is being used as a puppet by a mysterious organization. In this regard, Origin is quite common place. Brown has found a formula that works for his books and he is sticking to it.
However, as unoriginal as the structure is, the book is a fantastically fun tale. I really like Robert Langdon as a protagonist. He’s got this dorky charm that works for the story. He’s not a typical action hero – muscle-bound and karate chopping. He’s the college professor you always wanted to have who solves crimes in a Holmesian fashion: Through wit, observation, trial, and expertise. Brown’s research is always top notch and while his conclusions are perfect for fiction, the reader must take them with a grain of salt. Brown writes for the best-seller list, not for peer review.
In this tale, we meet Edmund Kirsch, a brilliant futurist who has an uncanny ability to make stunningly accurate predictions. Langdon’s “partner” for the story is Ambra Vidal – the curator of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the fiancé of the Prince of Spain. Finally, we are treated to an artificial intelligence program named Winston who provides a wonderful glimpse into the potential of AI.
As far as a good mystery tale goes, this one was predictable. When all the evidence points towards one person, it’s fair to say that he probably isn’t the guy (or gal). So, figuring out the “who done it” here likely isn’t going to be too hard for people who love the mystery/thriller genre. However, despite its flaws, I recommend Origin. I give it about 3.75 out of 5 stars.
If you are looking for earth-shattering, world-changing writing and theory, this isn’t for you. If you want a piece of intelligent, entertaining brain candy, this is a great choice.