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A Book Review of "Origin" by Dan Brown

Maya Ellenson features art, literature and writes book reviews.

Dan Brown's latest novel, "Origin"

Dan Brown's latest novel, "Origin"

A New Paradigm of Narrative

There is mild criticism amongst the highly positive reviews of Dan Brown’s latest bestseller “Origin." It appears Brown’s critics are flexing their wit in who does the better job at deriding the book as a whole.

Disparaging reviews allude to the book’s language, narrative style, characters, and composition, topped by acrid remarks in regards to historical and cultural references, acquired from “cheap”, all-available online sources, like Wikipedia and Australian writer, Beejay Silcox even labeled the novel as “Wikipedia-infected”.

Obviously, Dan Brown is not Michel Butor, Julio Cortazar, or Charles Bukowski. And yet Brown is the best-selling author of all times, running his own show within his own genre and its in-built aesthetics, attributed to a thriller, a mystery novel, or a mix of various types of fiction. Let’s leave standards for “high” poetics out, for in reference to Brown’s thrillers they are simply irrelevant.

What is "Origin" About?

For eons of times, humanity has been trying to find questions to these fundamental questions: Who are we? Where are we going? At the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, computer genius, futurist, and billionaire, Edmond Kirsch, is going to unveil his groundbreaking theory of the origin and destiny of humanity.

One of the invitees is Harvard Professor of symbology, Robert Langdon. Edmond Kirsch happens to be his friend and a former student.

However, Kirsch's meticulously arranged avant-garde-style presentation explodes into pandemonium as Kirsch gets brutally murdered. Edmond's video file, saved on his cell phone, is encrypted. The world’s powerful guardians of the status quo will stop at nothing to keep their established worldview and the order of things rock-solid.

Robert Langdon embarks on a perilous quest to find the device and release to humanity what his friend died for.

One of the main characters, Winston, is not even human and yet runs through the very end like a vital generator of this mesmerizing show of suspense.

As spiraling events unfold, the author escorts us to cultural landmarks of Spain: Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Antoni Gaudi’s cathedral “La Sagrada Familia”, the famous Montserrat Abbey, and the rest. Religious symbols, historical flashbacks, William Blake, and modern art also have a lot to tell and a role to play.

In this novel, Dan Brown enacts deeply archetypal topics. Controversial and thought-provoking, they bring up the depth of what Carl Jung termed “Collective Unconscious” universal archetypes. We all want to know who we really are and in what direction we head as we evolve technologically.

These are global, ontological, or existential questions. But “Origin” has its epistemological aspect as well. How does technology redefine a post-modern civilization in terms of getting hold of information?

And while snobby faultfinders scoff at Wikipedia the author repeatedly alludes to, they miss the whole point, for these popular tools are included in the book purposefully. Thanks to these universally accessible resources for obtaining knowledge, readers-- even if they’re not experts in the field---can interactively engage in the story, following Harvard Professor throughout this exhilarating spectacle. Technology enables information to spread like wildfire, turning hierarchical thinking into cultural relics.

In his Professor Langdon series, Dan Brown initiates a new paradigm of fictional discourse where a conventional veil separating readers and characters has simply been removed. It's not just the readers who passively read the thriller, but all-equipped fans who are welcome to step up to the novel's stage on equal terms with its intellectual protagonist, Harvard Professor.

In fact, the book lingers long after all its pages had been devoured. And with that being said, "Origin" has already boosted thematic tours to Spain.

Book Cellar in Lake Worth, Florida

Book Cellar in Lake Worth, Florida


Maya Ellenson (author) from Hobe Sound, Florida on February 18, 2018:

Thank you!

ezhuthukari from Kerala on February 18, 2018:

I thought the book was OK. Not his best, though. Nice review.