by: Dan Brown
The storyline of “Origin” pits creationism against science, not far from how society has always handled the two concepts. Both science and religion struggling to keep their hold on people and culture, while trying to douse the flames of the other.
The main character, Robert Langdon, is invited to Bilbao, Spain to attended an event hosted by one of his previous Harvard students, Edmond Kirsch. Edmond is now a billionaire, computer scientist and futurist. During his event, Edmond claims he will reveal the answers to life’s two most important questions:
- Where did we come from?
- Where are we going?
Edmond was not shy with his claims, and planned to broadcast his presentation live to the entire world. A few religious leaders were made aware of some details of Edmond’s findings, and begged him not to present the information; however, Edmond, a scientist turned to atheism in a world where strict creationism has less and less relevance, is set on ensuring his presentation will reach every corner of society.
Before Edmond begins his presentation, he meets with Robert in private to reveal that he feels his life may be in danger. Robert reassures him that all will be well, but they are rushed to end the conversation early so Edward can start the event on time.
It is also revealed that a bitterly troubled assassin has been mixed in with the crowd attending Edmond’s presentation.
Edmond, after a prologue that features a recording of a lecture by Robert, then reveals his intention for this event is to end the age of religion and fully usher in the age of science. As he begins to reveal his discoveries Edmond is shot by the assassin, and chaos ensues.
Robert, distressed after witnessing the event and being unable to catch the assassin in pursuit, becomes intrigued to resolve the mystery behind the attack – as well as honor Edmond by releasing the rest of the presentation to the public.
Robert is joined (as he usually is) by a lovely, intelligent lady to pursue this adventure. Ambra Vidal, who helped Edmond organize his event, is engaged to the Prince of Spain and becomes entangled in the rumors of the attack and the mystery of what Edmond’s research was to reveal.
Ambra escapes her Spanish Royal Guard to help Robert find where Edmond’s presentation was being stored. Their mutual goal is to find the presentation and broadcast it before morning light of the next day. They have some help from an A.I (artificial intelligence) bot, Winston, that was created by Edmond and was his personal assistant on all matters, including broadcasting the presentation.
The countdown begins, Robert and Ambra begin rushing around Spain, following hints from Winston, to find clues to access a 47-character password that will release the presentation for Winston to broadcast.
Part of the reason I love the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown is because of the real cultural and historical elements incorporated in his books. At times I have to pause from reading to Google search a piece of architecture or individual, but I love learning new things. The adventure flows nicely throughout Spain, occasionally circling back to previously described places.
The suspense is driven by the desire to hear what the answers to the two question could be. Will Robert find the password, will the presentation be broadcast or will it be interrupted by one of the many forces in pursuit, and will I (the reader) be able to understand what scientific discovery was made and hear the answers to life’s biggest questions?!
At times in the story I felt like I was going to be left with the no answer to the questions Edmond Kirsch posed during his presentation: “Where did we come from?” & “Where are we going?”
The uncertainty of his research leaves me wondering how a scientific discovery could possibly shake the foundations of millions of humans, causing them to shed their religious dogmas and follow the truth of science.
Although there is some facts behind the answers Dan provides for those questions – I was happily still able to contemplate for myself on “where are we going?” – but his futurist answer does not seem too far off.
As in true Dan Brown tradition, a final mental stab gets you right in the final pages. It was something I had to read twice over before I could possibly make any sense of it. It connects so delicately Edmond’s last prediction for the future, and leaves one to wonder how close we should let A.I. be in our personal lives.
I did not want to give too many details of the storyline away in my review- but I hope I gave you enough information to peak your interest! If you have read this book, or now plan to, leave me a comment below.
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Thanks for reading!
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