Captivated by Dan Brown’s thought provoking ‘Inferno’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ ; even the character of Harvard professor Robert Langdon (I like to think of myself as a Langdon lass), Origin attracted an impatient wait. It is Brown’s fifth book of the Langdon series, who reaches the ultramodern Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain to witness the unveiling of a discovery made by former student and futurist Edmond Kirsch that “would change the face of science forever” and answer the questions-” Where do we come from? Where are we going?”. However, the meticulously planned seminar turned into utter chaos when Kirsch gets shot in the head during the reveal. Langdon, along with Ambra Vidal, the future queen of Spain and “beauty with brains” of this book, take it upon themselves to complete Kirsch’s unfinished task.
From William Blake’s poetry, Miro’s paintings and dodging bullets at the Sagrada Familia, to the rise of fascism in Spain and questioning religious faiths, the book has all the Brownian elements. But did it all result in the magical Brownian concoction? I think not.
The story begins and moves at a bullock cart’s pace, through a maze of art and culture references drafted like Wikipedia pages. To be brutally honest, you’d lose nothing by skipping a page or two. Or even a chapter. Langdon’s character somehow fails to impart that ”quintessentially Langdon” edge to the story, making him entirely replaceable in the plot. For instance, anyone into rainy day puzzles could look for that particular line of poetry by William Blake.
Brown does what he does best-cook up a suspense that will make your insides squirm, yet the final reveal merely lives up to the excitement of listening to a monotonous Ted talk. Let’s say Brown came up with nothing “earth shattering”. In fact, it was rather “eyeroll” worthy.
Of course, Brown’s books have always been nothing short of an eye opener when it comes to art, culture and literature, and Origin too offers a fair share of ‘did you know?’s. I wouldn’t count this book as Brown’s top, but I did learn this- it might just be possible to live in a museum in Casa Mila. It’s on my bucket list now.