Dan_Brown_Origin_Review

Book Review: Origin – Another Dan Brown Disaster

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Overall: 4/10

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?

 

 

Disclosure: The link to the book above is an affiliate link, any profits go into supporting this blog!

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/websummit/22621354160/
Licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

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Fascinating Finds: Books, Videos and the Big Bang

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

With my final exams on the horizon, I’ve been excelling at what I do best: Finding ways to procrastinate.

In my impassioned quest to find the best ways to do anything other than work, I’ve made a few interesting discoveries that I’ve been spending a lot of time on, and I’d like to share them with you. Feel free to add to the list in the comments, and I’ll check them out!

YouTube Highlight: Kurzgesagt

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One of the best YouTube channels. Ever.

I’d like to give a shout out to my roommate, Toby, for introducing me to this YouTube channel that’s virtually impossible to pronounce. Within the span of a week, I had watched pretty much every single video they’d ever produced. Kurzgesagt creates videos on scientific concepts and makes them fun and engaging to watch.

I recommend checking out their videos on overpopulation, human origins, “What is Life? Is Death Real?”, “Why the War on Drugs is a Huge Failure”, and – you know what, watch them all. They’re amazing. Amaaaaaazing.

The videos are expertly produced and each one can take anywhere between two hundred and six hundred hours to create!

They are fantastic at weighing both sides of an argument, and they present those arguments in a clear, concise manner.

Many of their videos on the universe and philosophy can induce existential dread, something they often acknowledge in their videos, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s a fantastic resource. Cheers Toby!

Check out this fascinating video they made on the topic of addiction:

 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This is a really fascinating book about the history of humanity. It’s been out for a while, so I was quite late to the party. I’d describe it as brilliant mix of philosophy and history, and is written in a way that’s engaging. To sum it up in one sentence, Sapiens talks about the rise of humankind and how we became what we are today.

It’s an excellent book. It was a fifteen hour listen on Audible, but I found myself wishing there was more. My full review of Sapiens will be out soon, so stay tuned for that!

Food for Thought: What Existed Before the Big Bang?

Something I’ve been pondering a lot recently (mostly due to the binge-watching of Kurzgesagt videos), is the origin of the universe. More precisely, what happened before the big bang?

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What Happened Before This?  Image Credit: Wikipedia

There’s a very long winded explanation by Stephen Hawking that’s extremely interesting (although hard to understand at times) that you can check out, or you can watch the video below, also by Kurzgesagt (in case you needed more evidence of how much I love them).

If my interpretation of it is correct, the short answer is that time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, and so the concept of before doesn’t have any meaning, because in order for there to be a “before”, time itself would need to exist. Whoa.

I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around this concept myself, so if you can explain this to me, please leave a comment and let me know!

Podcast Highlight: Sir Richard Branson — The Billionaire Maverick of the Virgin Empire

This is a fascinating conversation between Tim Ferriss and British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson.

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The conversation revolves around Branson’s history, how he ended up in prison, his habits and decision-making processes, risk management, and the lessons he’s learned. It’s one of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to and I highly recommend having a listen. If you enjoy it, his first autobiography, Losing my Virginity is definitely worth picking up as well.

 

Side note, if you’re looking for a decent podcast app, check out CastBox (thank you to my friend Harold for the tip).

If you liked this post, give it a like so I know to make more of these. As usual, drop me a line and share your top recommendations!

See you in the next one!

Image credits: Kurzgesagt, Richard Branson by David Shankbone.

Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links, so if I do make a profit from your purchase, the money goes into supporting this blog!

 

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Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Rating: 9/10

Here’s a book that just doesn’t give a f*ck about what you think or how you feel. It’s eye-opening, thought-provoking, and above all, brutally honest. There’s a lot of swearing in the book, but don’t let that put you off, the content is absolutely brilliant.

On his website, Manson describes the book as “The self help book for people who hate self help books”, and I think you’ll agree that it’s quite fitting once you’ve read the book. He talks about how conventional advice just doesn’t work, and compels us to learn about ourselves, question our beliefs, and start critically evaluating our situations. It lives up to it’s subtitle and certainly provides you with a bunch of counterintuitive ideas that help you find happiness.

The way Mark Manson presents his narrative was extremely relatable to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

I have a simple test to determine how much I liked the book: Would I gift it to someone?

I definitely would. In fact, I’d present this book to pretty much anyone, and honestly, if you read the book and take Manson’s advice, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be a lot happier, and you’ll be able to see things from a different perspective.

I actually enjoyed reading the book so much that I started reading Manson’s blog, which largely contributed to the material in The Subtle Art. 

Some of the ideas in this book may be stuff that you’ve thought about already, but having them laid out in such a clear manner and having thought-provoking questions shoved in your face, is a transformative experience.

My key takeaways:

  • I learned to look at my life from a completely different perspective
  • I’ve learned to question more of my thoughts and actions, allowing me to have a better grasp of why I act or react in certain ways.
  • I gained some insight into how deeply rooted some problems can be, and the book gave me a framework to deal with them.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the book to be quite existential in nature, and it really struck a chord with me in so many ways, allowing things to really sink in and make sense.

For me, this book has provided a lot of clarity in terms of relationships, understanding my own thoughts, struggles, happiness, and life itself.  I gave it a 9/10 because I felt that there were some tiny parts that were slow and slightly clunky, but it’s something that can be easily forgiven.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is up there with the best. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy. If you’ve already read it, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Click on the image to purchase the book. It’s an affiliate link, so I make a tiny commission off every purchase, which goes into supporting the blog! 

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Book Review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Rating: 8/10

Look, I get it – unless you’re like me and have some kind of weird obsession with optimising your finances, you’d probably be hard pressed to think of a topic more boring than personal finance, and I don’t blame you. It’s dry and tedious and no one really cares very much to spend time dealing with it.

This is precisely is why it’s all the more important that you set up everything to be completely automatic, so you can devote as little time as possible to it. What most people lack when it comes to personal finance is having a system that works. Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich (Let’s call it IWT because I can’t be bothered typing that out over and over) is all about that: Creating a system that works on autopilot and allows you the freedom to worry about more important stuff, like selecting a new Netflix show to watch now that you’re done binging on House of Cards and watched Friends for the ten thousandth time.

If I had to recommend one personal finance book to anyone, it would be IWT. Hands-down, the best, no-nonsense, practical book on getting your finances in order. The best part? It doesn’t bore you to death.

It’s not about simply cutting back and living in the most bare-bones way possible.

It’s about conscious spending and living a sustainable lifestyle that’s suited to what you love doing the most, and my favourite part: Setting your finances on autopilot.

I’ve actually managed to negotiate my way out of bank fees because of this book. I followed the exact script that Ramit provides in the book, and voila! The representative on the other end of the call went:

“Sure, not a problem. I’ll just remove those fees and refund your account. Was there anything else I can help you with?”

And I (grinning widely) thanked him, hung up and thought, man, this book works. Honestly, people need to know this stuff. It’s simple, actionable and in just a couple of days, you can have your financial situation turned on its head.

  • Takes you through getting out of debt
  • Making your finances work on autopilot
  • Make saving money a breeze
  • Navigate the gatekeepers and get the most out of your bank
  • Negotiate your way to the best deals
  • Cut down on unnecessary interest payments
  • Earning more as opposed to cutting back
  • Succinct approach to investing and getting a better return than most managed funds
  • Big decisions (why houses are a terrible investment, the true cost of marriage – in a way you’ve never thought of before)

If you’re expecting a dry, text-book style regurgitation, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sethi’s style is entertaining, light, brutally honest, and yet very informative. Something I really liked was that his advice was actionable and he provided tons of links to all sorts of useful tools and resources.

If you haven’t read this book, you will not regret getting through it. The lessons are extremely valuable and will serve you very well. It’s a small investment that will provide you with returns well and above its cost.

Full disclosure, the link above is an Amazon affiliate link, and whatever I make goes to supporting this blog, so if you do make a purchase, thank you very much! If you can’t see the image above, it might be because of an ad-blocker that you might be running.

 

Picture Credit: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/