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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Book review: ‘Panther’ by David Owen (guest post)

Review written by Hannah Froggatt

‘Panther’ by David Owen is a coming of age YA novel focusing on the relationship between the teenage protagonist, Derrick, and his older sister Charlotte. Ever since Charlotte was diagnosed with major depression, her illness has been tearing the family apart. The stress has led Derrick to develop a compulsive eating disorder. However when he hears that a Panther has recently escaped from a local zoo, Derrick thinks that maybe capturing it can be his salvation, that maybe stopping the beast in it’s physical form will be enough to save his sister too.

When you first pick up Panther, you’re struck by its veracity. The characterisation is masterful. Derrick, our protagonist, is a perfect blend of naïvety and worldliness: perceptive enough to see his family is falling apart but ill-equipped to help them. Charlotte’s barbed interactions with Derrick are the best parts of the book, managing to be both sardonic and tender whilst digging right to the heart of Panther’s central theme of understanding — and accepting what we can’t understand. Despite some slightly self-conscious discussion of social media, Owen’s grasp of teenage world-views is sterling.

So is the depiction of mental health disorders. Few writers manage to depict such illnesses this dispassionately, but more impressive is Owen’s understanding of the three-dimensional presence of issues like depression. Derrick’s bewilderment at Charlotte’s behaviour — and his own — is completely genuine, and an excellent standpoint from which to explore how it affects those nearest sufferer and how it disrupts the narratives of our lives.

The only thing that doesn’t work is, unfortunately, the central metaphor. Derrick’s obsession with the escaped panther supposedly roaming his neighbourhood feels jarring and childish for the character’s years. The panther is meant to represent the depression that preys on Derrick’s family, but this clumsy attempt at magical realism clashes horribly with the blunt naturalism that makes the rest of the story so powerful.

Panther aside, it’s still worth a read. The beautiful character-craft and unblinking exploration of mental health make it thoroughly worth your time.

Inheritance Books: Annmarie McQueen

My guest post on fellow author Rhoda Baxter’s blog 🙂

Rhoda Baxter

This week’s Inheritance Books come from blogger and YA author Annmarie McQueen. Take a seat, Annmarie. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. 

H20161013_201557i, I’m Annmarie. I’m a 22 year old writer, blogger and photographer living in London. I enjoy instagramming food, taking selfies with dogs I meet and being that annoying friend who always has a camera to hand. I currently work in event marketing. I’m a graduate of Warwick University with a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in cultural policy. I also really love tea. I currently have 18 different types of tea in my room and I’m immensely proud of this fact.

Yay, tea! Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

The book that I’ve inherited that I would like to shine a spotlight on today is ‘Northern Lights’ by…

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