Saturday, May 5, 2018

Book Review: Origin (Robert Langdon, #5) by Dan Brown

Author: Dan Brown
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Pages: 461
Format: Hardcover
Published: October, 2017
Price: Rp315.000 (Periplus)
Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Date started: October 3, 2017 - Date finished: October 15, 2017

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.
In this fifth instalment of the Robert Langdon series, we follow our favorite Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon on another adventure. This time, Robert is invited by one of his former students, Edward Kirsch to the Guggenheim Museum where Edward will reveal his most recent discovery that essentially answers two of life's fundamental question on our origin, hence the title of the book. The questions are "where do we come from?" and "where are we going?".

This kind of revelation of course could shake up people's perspectives not only on science but religion as well, as every religion has their own answers to these questions. In the middle of his presentation revealing his discovery, Edward was shot by an anonymous shooter before he could reveal everything. This incident thrusted Robert on a race against time to locate Edward's discovery and share it to the world. Here he's assisted by Ambra Vidal, the museum director, fiancee to the crown prince of Spain and the one who helped arrange Edward's presentation. This adventure proves to be yet another dangerous one since there are people who would kill to keep this discovery a secret.
"To permit ignorance is to empower it. To do nothing as our leaders proclaim absurdities is a crime of complacency. As is letting our schools and churches teach outright untruths to our children. The time for action has come. Not until we purge our species of superstitious thinking can we embrace all that our minds has to offer."
Dan Brown is one of my all time favorite authors and one of my auto-buy authors. To be honest, this book was a bit of a disappointment. I've always held him to a higher standard because his books are really good, well the one's I've read anyway (I only have The Da Vinci Code left to read). Origin, to me is on par with Deception Point, which is my least favorite book of his. I know you're probably asking "you don't like Deception Point? but you gave it 4 stars?". Well, I never said I didn't like Deception Point, it's just not up to par with his other books and this applies to Origin as well. I actually pre-ordered this book in hardback, which is unusual for me because I always collect mass market paperbacks of his books because your boy is a cheap guy. This goes to show how high of an expectation I have on Origin.
"The human brain is a binary system–synapses either fire or they don't–they are on or off, like a computer switch. The brain has over a hundred trillion switches, which means that building a brain is not so much a question of technology as it is a question of scale."
"When evil rears its head in the world, God works through each of us in a different way, to exert His will on earth. Forgiveness is not the only path to salvation."
I know that by now when you've read enough of Dan's books you'd know that he has always used the same formula in all of his books (well, to be accurate not all of his books follow this formula): a male main character, a female character assisting him, a mystery to solve and a villain trying to stop the main characters. Some people have said that they've stopped reading his books because he uses this formula over and over again and only differentiate the mystery surrounding the books. Well, personally I read his books because he's the best at using this formula and this applies to Origin as well, the same formula was used but I'm still not bored by it.
"Remember death. Even for those who wield great power, life is brief. There is only one way to triumph over death, and that is by making our lives masterpieces. We must seize every opportunity to show kindness and to love fully. I see in your eyes that you have your mother's generous soul. Your conscience will be your guide. When life is dark, let your heart show you the way."
"Codes, by definition, must carry information. They must do more than simply form a pattern–codes must transmit data and convey meaning. Examples of codes include written language, musical notation, mathematical equations, computer language, and even simple symbols like the crucifix. All of these examples can transmit meaning or information in a way that spiralling sunflowers cannot."
Pros of this book, I'll say were the mystery, knowledge and the topics discussed in this book was very relevant. It talks about religion, symbols, but it had a bit more emphasis on technology. The revelation of what the discovery actually is wasn't a shocking kind of revelation but the kind of revelation that you need to absorb for a while and think about. The con in this book were that I felt it was way too long, there's actually a few chapters where nothing important actually happened. Other than that, I also have a problem with the perspectives of this book. This book was written in multiple perspectives and there are some characters whose perspectives didn't really add up much to the story.
Love is from another realm. We cannot manufacture it on demand. Nor can we subdue it when it appears. Love is not our choice to make.
All and all, it wasn't one of his best works but it wasn't by all means a bad book. If you are interested in a book that involves solving puzzles, mysteries, gaining some knowledge you might not know of before I suggest you pick up a Dan Brown book (I suggest starting with his best, Digital Fortress) and if you're especially interested in technology and what kind of impact it could have in our lives and the future then you can try to read Origin.

That's all for now!

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