Last week I broke my promise, which I gave four years ago – to never ever again bother reading Dan Brown‘s novels. However, curiosity killed the cat again. His newly published Origin didn‘t prove to be an exception to the storytelling scheme that every Brown‘s reader already knows as a multiplication table since his The Da Vinci Code.
The only positive thing about Dan Brown‘s novels is that they inspire traveling and sightseeing. I have an excellent idea for public relations people responsible for the country‘s image: work with D. Brown to incorporate your country‘s name and your most famous tourist attractions into his next novel and you won‘t need any other publicity for years. Ask Italy, France, UK or Turkey for their return on investment.
Done with the first hundred of pages I‘ve already wanted to go to Bilbao‘s Guggenheim Museum in Spain were the story of the novel initially takes place. Actually, it‘s the first time Brown uses the modern art museum in his books and the accurate descriptions of modern pieces of art on display allure to take the bait. The action also moves to the Royal Palace of Madrid and Valley of the Fallen outside it and to Barselona‘s Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece by the architect Gaudi. Hence the whole agenda for your next visiting tour.
And, of course, it is the very same Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon who for the fifth time is thrown into the whirlpool of chaotic and dangerous adventures. Four years ago he saved the world from the bubonic plague, this year Langdon is trying to share the sensational discovery of „Where do we come from? and Where are we going?“ and stir the existing balance between the science and the religion.
No, it‘s not Langdon who made this discovery. It‘s his former student and current high-tech genius Edmond Kirsch (obviously a symbiosis of contemporary idols - Elon Musk and Steve Jobs) who invites the professor to his pompous presentation in the Guggenheim Museum transmitted to the whole world. But instead of revelation the audience witnesses a brutal murder of the genius just before he can hit the play button. So accompanied by an attractive museum director and the future Queen of Spain (a pretty lady - usual Langdon‘s accomplice) Ambra, Langdon is forced to flee the museum and activate the presentation from Edmond‘s computer in Barselona. And the chase begins, as there‘s an assassin on the mission, the Prince of Spain guards committed to protect the future Queen and the church doing everything to protect the faith.
As there‘s a tech genius, there are also the writer‘s speculations on the future opportunities and threats. That‘s why Langdon gets a new friend who whispers straight into his ear and provides the most complex answers in a second. His name is Winston, he speaks with a British accent (gentleman equals reliability?) and he is an AI personified supercomputer. It is of a great assistance for Langdon and Ambra but can we totally trust a computer?
Being aware how Brown‘s storytelling works, it‘s obvious that the guy who is depicted as the main suspect and rather evil is definitely not the one who ordered the murder. Though the spectrum of suspects varies from the King of Spain and the head of Spanish church to Anti-Pope. Nevertheless, the real culprit is might be easily guessed and this is a pure disappointment.
The echo of „Where do we come from? Where are we going?“ follows the reader irritantly till the very end when finally after cracking Edmond‘s computer code - which is the 47 character long poetry line and which is unfortunately the only puzzle that Langdon has to untangle - the message goes worldwide. No usual symbology riddles, which the professor used to be so good at. Sadly but this is what a true Brown‘s fans are going to miss.
However, what is the most disappointing is the long-awaited revelation. Being constantly reminded of „Where do we come from? Where are we going?“ mantra, you expect something even extraterrestrial to be disclosed linked to human creation and destiny. Because why otherwise all fundamental religions of the world are so alerted and negative about the announcement? But what we get is nothing more than an extract of science-fiction already exploited for million times. Frustrating, isn‘t it? I’d better keep my promise next time.