Book review: Origin by Dan Brown

“Here comes the new Brown, same as the old Brown”.

*Spoilers below*

Origin is the fifth novel featuring the most famous Semiotician in the world, professor Robert Langdon.

The novel is set in Spain, and ranges from the Guggenheim in Bilbao, through Barcelona to the Royal Palace in Madrid.

A former student of Langdon, Edmond Kirsch is now a billionaire Futurist, and is hosting an event at the Guggenheim that will unveil a discovery that will destroy the foundations of the Abrahamic religions. Naturally he invites his old mentor.

Guess what – spoiler alert – Kirsch gets assassinated, and Langdon finds himself on the run with the stunning Ambra Vidal – museum director and fiancée of the prince of Spain.

Cue lots of hidden historical facts, and religious extremists, all related at the layman level, and the template that has brought Brown such success is complete. Clue after clue falls to the intrepid duo, puzzling as they do over Nietzsche, Blake, the artist Miro, and various famous sites in Spain. They get helpful dig-outs from Winston, a super-AI computer with attitude.

The story is typical Brown, building up the tension through potentially plausible historical proofs, enigmatic cryptograms, cliff-hanger moments, and magniloquent prose, while hoping to court controversy on the way. The reader knows what they are going to get, and by and large they get it.

For the fans, they will love Origin. It is an entertaining read, great for an airport terminal, but the potential of the story is, for me, not fully realised. The reveal(s) fell flat, and not as controversy-inducing as his previous outings. Airplane fodder.

Happy new year everyone! This review is a guest post by fellow bookworm Sean. Visit his book blog for more excellent reviews.

Today is also your last chance to download my ebook ‘This Really Happened’ for free on amazon. Please take a look! 

 

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5 Biggest Cliches in YA Romance

Recently, I’ve spent some time working my way through the bestseller list of YA romance fiction – everything from John Green to hit debuts such as ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon, which was recently made into a movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. But for now I’m done with YA fiction and going back to my usual genre of world lit, classics and general gritty depressing stories that leave me in existential doubt for days afterwards. As charming as it sometimes is to indulge in the idealistic world of manic pixie dream girls (MPDGs), deep conversations under the stars and passionate, obsessive love affairs, it’s all starting to feel a bit fake. Here are the 5 biggest cliches that I think have been way overdone in YA these days:

  1. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s beautiful. She’s deep. She’s probably a metaphor. She’s ‘broken’ but ‘strong’ and wants to make cryptic remarks about the meaning of life on a rooftop at 3am. She’s ‘not like the other girls’ because she’s a special snowflake and apparently has the ability to understand life better than everyone else, despite being a teenager with no actual life experience. Most likely she has a mental illness that’s probably being romanticised by the male love interest. Examples: basically anything written by John Green, pretty much ever.
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  2. The MPDGs favourite activity? Astronomy of course. Because relating everything in your life to the workings of the universe automatically makes you deep apparently. Sorry, no. It doesn’t make you deep. It makes you sound kind of egotistical and occasionally like a bad science textbook. Example: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
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  3. The dead parent/sibling/relative trope. Quite often it just seems like a lazy attempt to remove the adults from the story so the author doesn’t have to write them. In reality, family relationships are a pretty damn huge part of teenager’s lives. It’d be nice to see some more YA novels accurately reflect that.
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  4. Romanticising mental illness. This one worries me. While I have read some books which have given the topic the gravity it deserves (Laurie Halse Anderson does this excellently) I’ve also read many more that treat it as ‘teenage angst’ or an interesting quirk to make the character seem broody, mysterious and ultimately more attractive. Yeah, no. Just don’t. Being depressed isn’t sexy, it’s just extremely unpleasant and soul-destroying really.
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  5. Instalove! Because why spend valuable pages on having the characters actually get to know each other when they could be discussing the stars and their undying love instead.

What tropes and cliches do you hate in YA fiction? 

On a side note, if you want to make me super happy please go download my new novel ‘This Really Happened’ here. It’s FREE for the next four days!