Read Time: 4 Minutes
Note: Mild spoiler alert, nothing that would take away from the actual storyline.
Look, I tried very hard to come up with an opening paragraph to this post that would be kind or neutral at the very least. The best I could come up with was this:
“Dan Brown, the infamous author of the Da Vinci Code, is back at it again with Origin.”
Here’s the thing with Dan Brown. The man can certainly spin a yarn. He takes brilliant concepts and ideas, attempts to use them in thrilling plots, and proceeds to absolutely butcher them with writing skills that leave much to be desired.
I’m happy to announce that he’s back in full force with Origin, with astonishingly clumsy prose, not to mention the cringeworthy conversations that take place between the most mind-numbingly clichéd, robotic characters ever created.
The idea behind the Origin was conceptually fascinating—intriguing even—but that’s as far as it goes.
For one thing, quoting Princess Elsa from Disney’s Frozen was just one example of his bizarre attempts at infusing pop culture into the storyline. That mortifying experience was just the start to a brilliantly comical read, along with his blatant product placements. To add to this, the majority of the conversations in the book were jarring and out of place, and the encyclopaedic descriptions of various locations detracted from the storyline more than anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, the story itself was written in a grave tone, but Brown’s earnest efforts to be taken seriously with his incomprehensible metaphors, awkward and unrealistic conversations, and tendency to use superfluous descriptions were absolutely hilarious, I thought to myself as I typed furiously, much like a wild bear chopping wood, on the small, but well-spaced and responsive keyboard of my 13-inch laptop built with a solid metal chassis, perfect for dispersing heat.
The storyline itself was disappointing to say the least. Brace yourself, because this might come as a shocker: Brown has recycled his stale, formulaic plot in exactly the same way as in his previous books.
You can see it coming from a mile away: The scavenger hunt across an ancient, historically rich city, to solve a puzzle that would be virtually impossible for most people, save for our unsung hero, Robert Langdon, who just happens to be perfectly qualified for the job. Langdon is a professor of religious iconology and symbology from Harvard University. But wait, he can’t do this on his own, he needs his dazzlingly gorgeous sidekick, Ambra Vidal, A.K.A “Ridiculously Hot Babe Number 5”.
Oddly enough, Brown took a dramatic deviation from his regular plot by failing to mention Langdon’s Mickey Mouse watch every few chapters. I almost grew anxious as I initially thought he had forgotten about it entirely, but I was not to be disappointed. I could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the watch was alive and ticking.
Origin is certainly a page-turner, and yet the storyline fell flat, as it seemed a tad too unrealistic and didn’t get me as invested into the plot, compared to the previous books. The villain was a frightfully incompetent buffoon and was practically irrelevant, while the ending was mostly predictable, although the double twist was mildly refreshing.
It’s almost as if Dan Brown has a little cookie-cutter-like template for his books, and all he needs to do is to fill in the blanks and voila, the next best-seller is coming soon to a bookstore near you. That being said, I still find myself reading every book that comes out. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the hilarity of Brown’s stylistic disasters that keeps me coming back for more.
To quote Professor Geoffrey Pullum (trust me, read his reviews, you won’t regret it) on an earlier Dan Brown novel:
“Angels and Demons is by no means a disappointment for those seeking a feast of ill-chosen word combinations, unintendedly bizarre similes, unnoticed self-contradictions, and occasional good old-fashioned sentence-mangling.”
It’s nice to know that if nothing else, Dan Brown has consistency going for him.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my ratings for Origin:
Cringe factor: 10/10
Overall, I’d say Dan Brown’s writing ruined what could have been a stellar masterpiece. If you’re wondering if you should bother reading it, I’d say do it anyway, despite everything I’ve said, purely for the comic relief.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that my writing is nowhere near world class, but then again, I’m not a critically acclaimed novelist with millions of dollars in book sales. This begs the question—those “critics”, the ones who write the little blurbs that go on the dust covers of every Dan Brown novel, do they even bother reading the book?
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