Book Review: Origin by Dan Brown

Origin (Robert Langdon, #5)Origin by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stupid! That’s the first word that comes to mind as I begin my attempt to describe this book. After the DaVinci code, Dan Brown’s books have been gradually going downhill. This one may not have reached the bottom, but if not, it’s close. There was just enough plot to keep this thing trudging along, but all-in-all it was boring.

Brown follows a rather simple, sometimes trite, character and plot development. Once you understand the patterns his books become somewhat predictable. This one followed that format meaning superhero Robert Langdon happens to be at some event where something happens that will threaten the world. However, with the help of a lovely woman that he, for one reason or another, has no chance to take beyond the confines of the mystery, using his intelligence and eidetic memory (similar to photographic) to accomplish superhuman feats to discover the solution that only he can find to save the world. In this case, the mystery presented is: how did life begin, where is humanity going, and is there a God? However, there is a subplot which I think was the primary plot which involved an AI supercomputer, Winston, that should you knew was going to override its programming simply because it was created in such a way that there was no reason why it shouldn’t.

Along the way, there was too much description, too many boring facts, and inane statistics. Just about every page included some detail that Mr. Brown apparently believed was important enough to explain in far more detail than the story required. It was as if he was saying, “Hey reader, look at what I found, isn’t this amazing. I found this fantastic bit of trivia that you, my reader, would be too stupid to ever know about so I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

In the end, this book was especially disappointing because it could have been so much more. Either Dan Brown had a publishing deadline he had to meet and therefore wasn’t able to develop this book beyond the obvious plot (some people you expected to die, died. Some people you knew were innocent, were innocent. The real driving force you thought was driving the plot turned out to be the driving force you expected). There were at least a dozen times I thought the plot could have gone in a different direction than the most obvious, but almost always there were no surprises. Because of that, this book was tedious and I found myself skipping entire paragraphs. I could have skipped entire chapters, but if the book is well written, skipping chapters will usually mean I have to go back and read the chapter I skipped.

I found this book particularly stupid because it seems to be trying to prove either God does not exist or the existence of God is unnecessary. The flaw is the proof offered actually leaves open the likelihood that God is necessary in order to create the so-called proof that God does not exist. In this book, the character trying to develop that proof has to change the programming of a creation story simulator in order to find the solution he’s looking for.

The only way we are going to prove the existence or non-existence of God is to die. If our existence continues after we die, then God exists. The other option pretty much excludes God from the equation.

I’ve been disappointed in the last three Dan Brown books I’ve read. This will probably be the last time that happens.

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Nature and Your Mental Health

What this is saying, is get off your derrière and get outside. Take a walk, go on a hike, jog someplace, or at the very least sit on your front porch or steps. Spend a moment looking at the trees, plants, flowers, water, clouds, or maybe the ants crawling along the crack in the sidewalk near where you live. 

“I am extremely happy walking on the downs…I like to have space to spread my mind out in.” ― Virginia Woolf

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