Monday 6 November 2017

Book Review - Origin

Before you give me that look, dear reader, allow me to explain why I decided to read this.

I have, in the past, read Dan Brown. Two, to be exact. Angels and Demons (which I surprisingly liked) and The Lost Symbol (which I liked at the time [I wrote a review on it and everything], but looking back, I hold a "What the?" reaction to it). I am considering reading all his novels next year as a challenge to push myself into reading more grown-up books (because, as I told one person jokingly, I hate myself...). And I wasn't planning on reading this, truth be told. I was going to let this slip on by. I thought I was done with Dan Brown. I thought I was done with Robert bloody Langdon. I was done.

Until I preordered the book. I'm not entire certain when I did this...

Anyway, to the review/discussion/whatever the hell this is.

Robert Langdon has been invited to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to watch an announcement from his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, make an announcement that he claims with challenge and shake the fundamentals of human existence.

But before this revelation is unveiled, Edmond is shot and the Langdon is on the run, his life in danger. He runs with museum's director, Ambra Vidal, who wants to discover the truth. But as they run round Barcelona, looking for clues and symbols in modern art to help bring the truth to light, an enemy is getting closer to them. An enemy that might have connections to the Church or the Spanish Royal Family...

Out of the three Dan Brown books I have read, this is the worst. It's not awful, but it's lacking so much.

Am going to get this off my chest: this is meant to be a thriller. I'm meant to be on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, hoping that Langdon will survive at the end. But a thriller needs to grab me from the start - and this didn't. It took over 100 pages for something to happen that kickstarted the story (in my opinion), and then took another 100 pages before I felt the pace kick into gear.

That's 200-odd pages before I felt sucked in. That's half the book! Normally, I would have given up and moved on, but I was on holiday and thought "Let's see if this can save itself."

But this sticks to the Dan Brown formula. Smart male lead, a smart and beautiful female lead who has a personal connection to the mystery (in this case, she was close friend to Edmond and there's a second reason which comes later), a secret that will shock the world, a baddie assassin, religion, art, high-powered originations trying to stop our leads revealing the secret... It's all there!

This should work as a thriller. Dan has stuck to this formula with most of his books and they work. But this time, it doesn't. He throws subplots, facts that have no importance to the story whatsoever, things that slowed the plot down and weren't needed. Info-dumping stopped the story moving at a fast pace. If these were removed or put in footnotes, the plot would have moved faster and the story would have been tighter.

Plus, I thought he had jumped the shark in Lost Symbol with the breathable gel. Well, he outdid himself this time with Winston...

Now, if you are a fan of Dan Brown, you know what you're going to get and if you enjoy reading him, go forth and read him! Read what makes you happy!

But for me, this didn't work. It felt dull compared to Angels and Demons and, after my possible Dan Brown 2018 Reading Challenge (still in two minds over this), I think I'm done with Mr Brown and Langdon. I have to make peace with this and move on...

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