Dan Brown has been my favorite writer ever since The Da Vinci Code was published. As in almost any other country, it also became a hit in Iran. But not much later, it was declared illegal by the government after, according to the news back then, a group of Iranian Christians protested against the claims of this book. It makes me think that even if Muslims didn’t ban something in Iran, Christians would. Welcome to the utopia of toleration! But perhaps the very banning of this book tempted me to find an underground version of it to read. I was a teenager back then, so this book was one of my early serious reads. It affected me phenomenally. I vividly remember that I was so impressed that I literally wept after some truths about Jesus and Mary Magdalene was revealed. The truth and the way it was hidden behind codes was so massive that you couldn’t but be stunned. I’m sure millions of other people were as inspired as I was by the book.
I believe the impression of this book is not yet over because people still keep referring to this masterpiece. Soon after the controversy about it, some Christians in Iran published a disclaimer pamphlet on the internet trying to discredit Dan Browns’ claims. Then at least one documentary was made which tried to investigate the bloodline. Then, the film was built. A few years later a series called Da Vinci’s Demons was made, which although was not directly based on the novel but was inspired by it.
After The Da Vinci Code, I read all other books written by Dan Brown in the past years; that includes Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress, and Deception Point. Angel and Demons was almost as surprising as The Da Vinci Code. Digital Fortress was very interesting, especially for a tech-savvy teenager like me. Deception Point was also impressive, but perhaps not as much as the others.
Soon The Lost Symbol was published and then translated into Persian in Iran. Surprisingly, although it was generally pro-Freemasonry, it wasn’t banned in Iran. If you wonder why I’m surprised, you should know that in Iran, Freemasonry is equal to Zionism, and Zionism is like the-one-that-must-not-be-named. I think it must also be a controversial topic in the US because unlike Dan Brown’s previous two films featuring Robert Langdon, no movie was made from it. I personally liked it, but not as much as the earlier books _maybe because it favored Freemasons; Honestly, I don’t remember exactly why.
After a few years, which felt like ages to me, Dan Brown’s precious Inferno was published. It’s definitely my all-time favorite Dan Brown novel. It is perhaps even fierier than The Da Vinci Code. It lacks nothing of code-breaking, mesmerizing works of art, and labyrinthine plot. Besides, it covered a critical universal issue. It was quite a page-turner that kept you guessing until the very last page. I read this book while I was serving the compulsory conscription. I mostly read it during my long night shifts _perhaps that’s another reason I adore this book; it kind of reminds me of the loneliness and hardship I underwent. Besides, it was actually the first Dan Brown novel that I was reading in original English; before that, I only read the Persian translations.
And finally here comes Origin! I waited long for this book. I regularly followed updates on Dan Brown’s website and Facebook page. I already knew about what Dan Brown was going to cover this time: two of humanity’s eternal questions, “where do we come from?” And, “ where are we going?” Who hasn’t thought about these two questions already! I was so anxious to read it. I wanted to see what secrets Dan Brown was going to be revealing this time. I was thirsty for the codes, labyrinths, and arts. So, I read it, and as I read, I published my favorite quotations on my website. I felt relieved as I read those anti-religious words by Edmond Kirsch _I always loved to scream “ffuucckk religion!” But other than that, I have to confess that I think this novel is a failure!
I say it is a failure because although the format of the novel is the same as all the previous ones, in which the story that happens so fast in about 24 hours is chopped up in several short chapters, nothing of value was revealed except in the parts that Edmond Kirsch talked. Almost everything else was like commercials in between Kirsch’s presentation. I think the reason for this is as you read the first few chapters of the book up until the assassination, you already know what the secret is about and where it is hidden, and you only have to wait for Langdon to find a way to reveal it to you. And it happens in the simplest way possible: Langdon finds the password that plays the video presentation. No more labyrinth, no more guessing, no more secret passageways. The way that Mr. Brown had started it there was no other way that his hero, Langdon, could have had a more effective and active role. Mr. Brown should have picked other characters, and another plot to make this story work. I wonder why he couldn’t write it like Inferno. Inferno was also about a discovery by a scientist; but Langdon could still play an active role as a code breaker and researcher. Honestly, there are just a few chapters that add something to the story, others just fill the gaps, and takes the reader’s time in the most boring way. There were so many boring talks, internal dialogues, and unimportant details.
Besides the plot being a failure, I think the scientific claims were also failures. I wasn’t satisfied much after I leaned Kirsch’s discovery. The answer Kirsch gave to the question “where do we come from?” has some sense into it; although it is not yet a scientific fact in the real world. But the answer to the second question “where are we going?” was more like a fiction. It’s a fact that we are in the midway of evolution, but getting mixed with technology, and dealing with technology as a living creature is too legendary! It makes me think that perhaps choosing this topic for a novel was a failure even before the start because after all, it’s a novel, when did you see before a new scientific discovery be first revealed in a novel?! Only sci-fi reveals in a novel. But sci-fi was not like Dan Brown’s style; so far he had just revealed bottom rock facts covered in codes and secrets. Why he tried sci-fi this time, or better to ask, if he meant it to be sci-fi, is a puzzle to me.
Finally, what was all that advertisement?! Sometimes I felt as if I was reading a cheap teenagers magazine. Why naming specifically all those brand names and websites?! Really why? Is Dan Brown paid for those advertisements? Again why would an internationally acclaimed and respected writer turn his book into a luxury fashion magazine? Sigh…
To conclude, Dan Brown has been my favorite novelist. I respect him for his fabulous past works, notably Inferno, and The Da Vinci Code, but his latest work, Origin, is an unfortunate failure. Despite this, I keep following his next activities. Those winding secret passageways can’t just stop here.