Where do we come from? Where are we going? These are the two profound questions scientists and religions alike have been trying to answer for millennia. From the stories of the Greek Gods to the major religions today, everyone has a different opinion on the matter, and science hasn’t been able to prove anything as yet. The book starts with a notorious atheist scientist Edmond Kirsch setting out to reveal answers to these questions, with definitive proof.
Dan Brown’s books are characterized by suspense and conspiracy, and this one is no different. Edmond Kirsch is murdered gruesomely in front of his audience of notable people from all parts of the world called to witness his big reveal. The audience includes his dear friend and former teacher, our protagonist Prof. Robert Langdon, and Ambra Vidal, the director of the museum in which the reveal was to take place. Fearing for their lives now, the two set out against all odds to finish their friend’s mission: to reveal the secret to the world.
Other notable characters include Bishop Valdespino, the King and Prince of Spain, the murderer Admiral Avila, a website conspiracy.net, and an AI, Winston. The AI is a major character throughout the book, who helps Langdon and Ambra in their journey. There are mini-plots, plot twists and conspiracy theories flying around throughout the book, centred on the abovementioned characters. However, the author has done an excellent job of tying up all the loose ends before the end, and getting all the mini-plots to culminate in one grand finale.
The book is based in Spain, and the author has described the different parts of the country so well that The Origin makes me want to actually go there. His attention to detail has ensured that the reader’s mind is engraved with a specific picture of what he wants to depict. If that’s not enough, the book includes illustrations, especially of the symbols our heroes see through their journey, so our picture is complete.
The best part about the book, though, is the way the author keeps us on the edge all through the story. At each turn, we are left wondering, “What next?” and all we want to do is keep reading. The suspense doesn’t wane until the very last page of the book, and that is commendable. The questions, “What was the secret?” and “Who ordered Edmond Kirsch murdered?” are answered only in the end, but the author gives us just enough hints to stop us from putting the book down, like serving tasty appetizers before the meal.
The book’s ending was my favourite part, because of the mind-blowing twist which must have shocked everyone. The identity of the murderer is so surprising that you won’t guess it, not even in your wildest dreams. This thrill of surprise is what we live for, and The Origin ends on the most surprising note possible. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the shifting points of view. It makes the story seam distorted, somehow, though sometimes it’s necessary to move the plot ahead. Overall, I’d give the book a rating of 4/5, because I loved it except for the point of view shifts.