A Book Spy Review: ‘Origin’ by Dan Brown

51F2CYT8YkL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Robert Langdon chases answers to two of the biggest questions asked today — where did we come from, and where are we going? — in Dan Brown’s all-new thriller, Origin.

Like hundreds of others, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology Robert Langdon immediately traveled to Bilbao, Spain, after receiving an exclusive invitation from Edmond Kirsch. A forty-year-old self-made billionaire, Kirsch made a name for himself through introducing a number of innovative, high-tech inventions (think of a younger Steve Jobs). His outlandish scientific predictions had made headlines for years, but now Kirsch claims to have a presentation that will literally “change the face of science forever.”

For Langdon, traveling to Spain is both a professional and personal trip. Unlike most, Robert knows Edmond Kirsch well, though the two haven’t stayed in close touch for some time. Decades ago, Langdon was Kirsch’s professor and mentor when Kirsch was a Harvard student. Now, in the present day, the student has become the teacher, and, like everyone else, Langdon eagerly makes his way to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to see Kirsch’s announcement.

Shockingly, a gunman shoots Kirsch in the head just before he’s able to unveil his spectacular surprise — leaving a few hundred in attendance and two million people watching a live-stream from around the world — in the dark. After the assassin escapes the museum, Langdon promises his fallen friend that he’ll find a way to bring Kirsch’s scientific finding to the world, no matter what. 

Teaming up with Winston, Kirsch’s sophisticated AI — a cross between Tony Stark’s Jarvis and IBM’s Watson — Langdon searches for any clues that will lead to unlocking Kirsch’s secret password in hopes of obtaining access to his pre-recorded presentation.  

Due to his involvement and interest in whatever Kirsch was working on, it doesn’t take long for the authorities to suspect Langdon might somehow be involved, or know more than he’s letting on. Likewise, those who had a motive to silence Kirsch quickly turn their attention to Langdon — making his already difficult task infinitely more dangerous. 

Brown’s formulaic approach rings true once again, as he takes readers on a twisting and turning ride that feels plenty familiar but is still thoroughly enjoyable.

Like in past books, Langdon teams up with a smart, attractive woman, and continues to crack codes that nobody else comes close to figuring out. The end reveal might not be as shocking as some readers might expect, but, as always, Brown lays out the science in a way that’s engaging and fun but also makes things feel real and possible, even though it’s fiction. 

If you’ve enjoyed Brown’s past thrillers, you’ll likely enjoy Origin — a big step up from The Lost Symbol and Inferno, and more in line with Dan Brown’s highly-regarded first two Langdon books, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. Though it does take a little while to get going (as the author lays down the groundwork and sets the tone for the rest of the novel), Brown’s latest offering becomes certifiably unputdownable once the plot takes off.

Book Details

Author: Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #5
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0385514239
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children. 

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