Origin by Dan Brown

originThis is the fifth installment of the Robert Langdon series. What’s great about these books is that they are stand alone novels that feature the same protagonist. You don’t need to read the previous books to know what’s happening in the current one. Although there are little nods to the previous books that you’d only pick up if you read them. For example, someone might make a remark about “that incident at the Vatican” or something to that effect which of course is a reference to Angels & Demons. Knowing what happened at the Vatican isn’t integral to understanding the plot of Origin.

The movie The Da Vinci Code is what prompted me to read the books and I have loved the Robert Langdon books since then. I started with The Da Vinci Code, then read Angels & Demons. After that I read the books as they were released. Angels & Demons was by far my favourite. So disappointed that the corresponding movie was so utterly terrible.

This book follows the same recipe as the other Robert Langdon books. Robert somehow finds himself in a situation with a pretty female companion and they must #savetheday. Origin starts with Robert’s friend Edmond Kirsch visiting three religious leaders and revealing to them he has discovered the origin of the the human species and discovered our destiny — through science, not religion! Obviously, the religious leaders are not happy because his discovery undermines faith and if this information became public, organized religion as we know it would crumble.

Fast forward a few days, Edmond is about to reveal his discovery to the whole world via live streaming and he has invited his dear friend and former professor, Robert Langdon, to the live presentation at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. As he is taking the audio guided tour of the museum Robert discovers that the person on his audio headset is not a person at all and if in fact a highly advanced artificial intelligence named Winston created by Edmond.

During the presentation of Edmond’s discovery Edmond himself is brutally assassinated on live television before he can reveal what he has discovered. So, Robert and Edmond’s friend Ambra must go on an epic adventure, aided by Winston, to discover the password to Edmond’s super top secret computer server so they can release his discovery to the world. And they must do this while evading the police and Edmond’s assassin.

Things I liked about Origin:

  • The book grabs hold of you right away and hooks you into reading more. It’s exciting and Brown’s writing style makes you really want to know the answers to the questions “Where do we come from?” and “Where are we going?”
  • Winston was an interesting character. Being an artificial intelligence (or rather, a synthetic intelligence as Winston prefers) makes him the ultimate “man in the chair” as it were. He can hack into any system and acts as a deus ex machina for Robert and Ambra. Winston has his own personality, thoughts, ideas, and feelings, even though he insists they are just programmed reactions you really have to wonder. Especially at the end of the book.

Things I didn’t like about Origin:

  • It really does follow the same recipe as the other books and while there were a few big reveals that actually surprised me at the end of the book, it was a pretty predictable plot.
  • I was also a little disappointed with the reveal of Edmond’s discovery. Especially the answer to “where are we going?” Seemed like a cop-out to me. As if Dan Brown didn’t want to make any real predictions about the future of the human race and just picked something that would be the least controversial. Although, I guess when you think about it, humans are well on their way to the outcome he describes in the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to Robert Langdon’s next crazy adventure. Hopefully the movie adaptation isn’t terrible. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because, while there were a few things I was disappointed about the book was extremely entertaining and well written.

P.S. There is a secret message hidden in the plot description on the book jacket flap. Comment if you figured out what it says!

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I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

princess-xI started reading this book because I saw an audiobook version of it at my local library. Upon reading the description of the book I decided reading the physical book would be better than listening to the audio version for one main, and very important reason. This book is part graphic novel, and the graphic novel is VERY important.

This book is about two girls, Libby and May, who become best friends in elementary school. They are both a little on the awkward side and like nerdy things like comic books, drawing, writing, ninjas, etc. Together they create a comic book character whom they name Princess X. Fast forward a couple years and Libby and her mother have passed away in a car accident, taking Princess X with her to the grave. Fast forward three more years and May, whose parents got divorced shortly after Libby died, is visiting her father back in her home city. As she wanders the city she starts seeing Princess X everywhere. There are stickers, and patches on backpacks, finally she discovers the Princess X webcomic and knows that somehow Libby survived the car accident (which May discovers was MORE than a simple accident) and needs help from her best friend. The webcomic is littered with easter eggs that only May would understand.With the help of her new hacker friend, Trick, May begins a quest to find the creator of the Princess X comic, however, there is a very dangerous person also looking.

This book was so good I could barely put it down. It’s fast paced and the mystery element is very intriguing. The story is so compelling that i didn’t pause while reading to make notes, so now I have to try and remember things after the fact. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the lack of romance. Trick and May are friends, but not romantic. Sure, there is potential for it to develop but that isn’t what the story was about. The story is about solving the riddles in the Princess X comic, and saving Libby. I also really enjoyed the relationship between may and her father. May’s father truly wanted to help May find Libby, even though he wasn’t sure it would come to fruition. I like that there was a positive male father figure in this story.

The comic book element to the story was awesome. It was really neat to read bits of the comic and try and figure out the easter eggs before May did. I can’t imagine that the story would be as compelling without the comic book sections to go along with it.

That basically about it for this review. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because the story is just so interesting. Cherie Priest has a true gift for storytelling and describing the setting of the story. I felt almost like i was with May and Trick during their whole adventure. I highly recommend reading this