ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Origin Book Review - Lunchtime Lit With Mel Carriere

Updated on May 31, 2020
Mel Carriere profile image

In a recent survey among choosy Mothers, Mel Carriere's book reviews were selected 10 to 1 for wholesomeness over those of his competitors.

Dan Brown recycles The Da Vinci Code again in giving us Origin, which unfortunately lacks Origin-ality.
Dan Brown recycles The Da Vinci Code again in giving us Origin, which unfortunately lacks Origin-ality. | Source

Read It - It's Good for You

You can't say no to Mom. Even if you already have a crowded plate, when Mom says eat this it's good for you you make room, or risk being grounded. Wait a minute, these days being grounded is normal, we call it social distancing. Even so, she could still take away your X-box privileges.

Whatever type of maternal shaming your Mother will heap on your plate to get you to eat that, in the back of your head you know Mom is right, she is never going to feed you something that will get stuck in your craw or give you indigestion. Everything Mom gives you will go down smoothly. Too smoothly sometimes.

So when my beloved Mother gave me a copy of Origin, by Dan Brown of The DaVinci Code fame, and said Read this it's good for you, how could I say no? I'm 56 years old now, she can't send me to my room for misbehaving, but the specter of her parental discipline still looms over my soul like a warm, comfortable, but ultimately smothering blanket. Can you be asphyxiated by too much love? I don't know but Mom's still trying.

Mailman Mel has it made in the shade now, but only figuratively, not literally.
Mailman Mel has it made in the shade now, but only figuratively, not literally. | Source

Lunchtime Lit Searches For Shade

Lunchtime Lit Book Reviews are currently on a quest for shade. Reviewer/Postman Mel Carriere recently changed routes, and has yet to find a cool, comfortable spot in which to indulge his reading habit. His last two Postal assignments were ugly routes with beautiful shade. His current gig is completely the opposite - a route that winds around Easy Street, where the mailboxes are all out by the roadway, meaning the worst that might happen is a crick in the elbow sticking his arm out the window. Unfortunately, Easy Street is perpetually bathed in sunshine, the shade there is spotty and unreliable.

Will Mel find a suitable shade tree, or will his brain and book reviews be baked by the naked sun in the cloudless California sky?

No matter where Mel does his Lunchtime reading, in searing sunshine or pleasant penumbra, the rule remains that all books be read only on his half hour lunchbreak.

Lunchtime Lit Year To Date Recap * **

Book
Pages
Word Count
Date Started
Date Finished
Lunchtimes Consumed
Cloudsplitter
768
260,742
1/7/2019
3/27/2019
49
Power In The Blood
903
330,930
3/28/2019
6/28/2019
57
A Suitable Boy
1,349
591,552
6/29/2019
12/10/2019
103
Death Is A Lonely Business
276
79,200
12/12/2019
1/15/2020
17
Origin
632
158,050
1/16/2020
2/26/2020
25

**Word counts are estimated by hand-counting a statistically significant 23 pages, then extrapolating this average page count across the entire book. When the book is available on a word count website, I rely on that total.

*Twenty-four other titles, with a total estimated word count of 5,088,983 and 766 lunchtimes consumed, have been reviewed under the guidelines of this series.

Thanks Mom For The Da Vinci Code - Whoops I Mean Origin

To demonstrate my depths of appreciation for the copy of Dan Brown's Origin I found in my Christmas stocking, hung by the chimney with care, here is the Thank You letter I wrote to Mom.


Dear Mom,

I really appreciate you sending me this book instead of some flat, uninspiring book that might insult my intelligence, the way other Mothers would.

For instance, to keep their children from being exposed to impure thoughts and deeds, some mothers might send books with cardboard characters, both the villains and good guys being people without any sharply defined peculiarities that might be too weird for the impressionable mind. Oh but you have not done that here, dear mother of mine.

Many Mothers also believe it is their duty to protect their children from offensive language, so they will provide their children with literature that has very safe, stale dialogue. Hanna Barbera cartoon dialogue. Phrases like "We gotta solve this mystery Scoob." Usually the people in these books never disagree with each other. The good guys are always on the same page, of one accord, because in the motherly mind differences of opinion promote rude behavior. Exposure to arguing might make me want to smack my bratty sister in the back seat, because she keeps elbowing me and won't stay on her side. But I am ever oh so thankful there is nothing of that sort here, with Origin.

Because structure is so important for the developing psyche, oftentimes Mothers with the best of intentions will give you books that seem a lot like that author's other books. The good guy in these separate but equal books might be pursued by a villain from a secret fringe right wing Catholic organization. As an example, The Da Vinci Code had a bad guy who took his marching orders from Opus Dei, supposedly a crazy, murdering sect. But of course, my dear Mother, the crazy murdering Catholic sect in The Da Vinci Code is completely different from the crazy, murdering Catholic sect in Origin, because the crazy, murdering Catholics in Origin turn out not to be real Catholics after all. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in that. I will try to go to church sometime this year, to show my appreciation.

Some might also point to the fact that, in Origin, Robert Langdon once again has a foxy female sidekick to help him solve this groovy mystery, just like he did in The Da Vinci Code. Of course it is silly to consider that these two heroines are in any way similar, because one is French and the other Spanish. There is no danger of any illicit interaction among hero and heroine either. That is why protective mothers like their boys to read books featuring Harvard professor Robert Langdon, because he is the perfect gentleman. He never tries to steal a kiss or cop a feel off of these stunning Latin babes. Actually Mom, that might be one thing you share with those fuss budget mothers, wanting to prevent me from becoming titillated on my lunch break, as sometimes happens with bawdy, shameless thrillers these days. There is nothing at all even remotely titillating in this book, and I once again echo my thanks.

To repeat, Mother dearest, eternally in my heart and mind, I thank you for this Da Vinci Code, scratch that, I mean this Origin novel. It gave me 25 lunches full of cheap thrills without overly taxing my brain. I guess you know my mind is already overwhelmed by this mailman's job, trying to keep track of what letters go in what boxes and what not. I am really grateful you minimized any additional mental strain my lunchtime reading material might cause.

Signed your loving and devoted son,

Mel

Grateful Mel tries to write his Mummy, but he is not handy with a pencil.
Grateful Mel tries to write his Mummy, but he is not handy with a pencil. | Source

It's The Thought that Counts

On we read because Mom requires it, muddling through 600 pages of damp dialogue and milquetoast personalities to get to the big payoff, the earth-shattering revelation that the secret murderous Catholic sect dispatched an assassin for, to keep us from learning.

The story line that gets us there is the same cookie-cutter template Dan Brown uses to stamp out all of his stories. To summarize, we have Edmund Kirsch, an Elon Musk styled Renaissance Man who is dead set on debunking religion. Kirsch has developed a cutting edge supercomputer to calculate the fate of mankind, at last answering the age old questions sages, holy men and philosophers have contemplated throughout human history - Where do we come from? Where are we going?

But evil conspiratorial forces lurking in the shadows fear the consequences to faith that will result from Kirsch's findings, scheduled to be revealed in a stunning presentation at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. On the very night of his grand disclosure Edmund Kirsch is murdered there by a member of one such secret sect. The rest of the novel then revolves around Robert Langdon and his female sidekick Ambra Vidal trying to hack Kirsch's phone password, so they can launch the discovery put on hold by the visionary's untimely death.

Much like John Galt's one hundred page harangue in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the 600 pages of fairly predictable action in Origin are merely a vehicle to get us to Kirsch's speech on the fate of humankind. Although interesting, our anxiously awaited answer to the riddle of life turns out a tad anticlimactic, not quite so momentous a discovery as its buildup would have us believe. I think most of us readers are left blandly shaking our heads, grumbling What's the big deal - I kind of knew that already.

The answer to Where do we come from? is actually the more captivating of the two, but I think I could have read the Wikipedia article on the subject and skipped the gooey brain candy I chewed on over the course of 25 lunches. This explanation revolves around the ideas of Jeremy England, a physicist working in the field of "quantum biology." England has developed a theory called "dissipation-driven adaptation," a concept that life developed from random groups of molecules organizing themselves to dissipate energy, in accordance with the strictures of entropy, the gradual but inevitable deterioration into disorder. In his speech, even Kirsch admits that dissipation-driven adaptation is an unproven theory, so we are brought back to square one - Where do we come from?

The second question is answered with much more certainty than the first, but it made me think to myself - Really? They murdered you for that?

Edmund Kirsch's response to Where are we going? is that humans will be absorbed by another group of organisms - Technium. We will, in fact, will become a hybrid species - a fusion of biology and technology. The technological gadgets we carry around with us will eventually be a part of us, making future people as different from modern humans as modern humans are from their Neanderthal predecessors.

Okay, all fine and good, I'll buy that, I say to myself as sandwich crumbs dribble down from my slack jaw into the creases of the paperback. But how does this idea debunk religion? Why is this concept so threatening to religious groups that they will send out fanatical killers to suppress it? Will humans who are mind-melded with their high-tech toys really be less inclined to believe in an invisible God? I think it more likely that organized religion will continue to exist in one form or another, carrying out those rites of passage that sanction human beings as a part of society, even in a future where we social monkeys become half-man, half machine.

So at the end of Origin I am feeling like Clark Griswold did in that movie, when he drove his family all the way across country to Wally World, only to find out when he got there that it was closed.

Thanks anyway, Mom. It's the thought that counts.

The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the setting for much of Origin, is definitely a much more unconventional and interesting place than any of Dan Brown's fiction.
The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the setting for much of Origin, is definitely a much more unconventional and interesting place than any of Dan Brown's fiction. | Source

Does Dan Brown Dumb It Down?

So while we are on the topic of questions, my big question is whether Origin author Dan Brown deliberately dumbed this book down. Or could he be a not so smart guy that just lucked out big time, riding the wave of conspiracy theory fervor created by The Da Vinci Code a decade and a half ago?

I suspect that Dan is no dummy. His Dad was a university level Math teacher. His Mother was a trained musician. Damn good pedigree, Danny boy. Dan himself graduated from Amherst College, billed as the best liberal arts school in the land, a place where only ten percent of the applicants are accepted. I think this proves that Dan is only dumb by design, and the vapid dialogue and cookie cutter characters of Origin were planned that way on purpose.

Dan understands who his audience is - people who are trying to sound smart without putting a lot of effort into it. So he has taken on the role of baby nanny, taking hard to chew concepts and turning them into baby food, so you and I can digest them. Instead of sirloin, which can get a little bit tough if not cooked correctly, he gives us Gerbers.

It's hard to argue with his success. The man has sold 200 million books. On the other hand, my next Lunchtime Lit book is by JK Rowling, the queen of complex characters and lively, spirited dialogue. Dan Brown eats her dust - She has sold 600 million.

Either model works, I suppose, but if I had to pick one of these authors to copy it would be Ms. Rowling. Sure, I'm a sucker for brainy girls, but it would also be a lot more fun to write her style. Writing is a tedious, time consuming process. Who wants to bother with it if you're not writing in a way that is fun?

Of course, the ultimate arbiter of the dispute is Mom. My mother does not want me hanging out with free thinking ladies like little Miss Rowling, especially if they are dabbling in a bit of witchcraft and wizardry on the side.

So she got good old reliable but soft spoken Uncle Dan to babysit me for 25 days. Who else but Uncle Dan will chew your food for you, so you won't choke on your half hour Postal lunch break, especially while being vulnerable and exposed in your quest for that ever elusive shade.

You only look good in Tweed and Turtleneck if you've sold 200 million books.
You only look good in Tweed and Turtleneck if you've sold 200 million books. | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      3 days ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Beth. I'm sort of like you, as in I don't wear my Christianity on a bumper sticker, but I play my religion cards close to my chest. Nevertheless, I find the militant atheists to be as annoyingly fanatical as the fanatical Christians are.

      Personally, I think Dan Brown gives a fair balance between religion and science, I just find his storytelling style to be a bit oversimplified. Since you have read those other two books I think you can safely skip this one, because it is pretty much Da Vinci Code 2.0.

      I appreciate you dropping by.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 

      5 days ago from Tennesee

      Mel, quite interesting (and humorous!). I have read a couple of Dan Brown's books, - the Angels and Demons one, that Da Vinci Code, too. Not really a fan of his style or ultimate premises. He is very good at pulling me into his characters, though (I am fascinated by what makes them tick). However, after reading this review I'm not sure as I want to go there with him again. Sounds like the same old underscore of almighty science trumps religion? Not that I'm a Christian but I am also not a big fan of condescending premises.

      I thoroughly enjoyed your review. Thanks for posting!

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      4 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Lawrence, Dan Brown does explore some interesting themes. He's not my cup of tea, but one can't argue with his track record. Thanks for dropping in.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      4 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Mel

      Very interesting. I'm reading his book 'Angels and Demons' at the moment, which starts with the strange premise of a Catholic priest/physicist working at CERN in Switzerland who manages to prove the Biblical concept of creation (from nothing) by creating antimatter and is murdered by the 'godless' scientists for his heresy! (Yes, its calked that in the book, but skipped over in the movie)

      Oh, and the antimatter is stolen and planted in the Vatican as a bomb!

      Origin sounds just the kind of book I would enjoy, will keep an eye out for it.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      7 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Well it goes without saying that my Mother and I are not on the same page when it comes to reading. I think at one time she was a Agatha Christie Hercule Perout fan as well. Now I have never read Christie or Francis, but I have heard prominent writers discuss their work with admiration and they seem a cut above the slop Dan Brown dishes out.

      I hope you find a good book or movie to keep you occupied while you are sheltering in place this Easter.

    • profile image

      Pat Mills 

      7 weeks ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      It seems your mother has different reading tastes than you do. My mother enjoyed mystery writers, such as Agatha Christie and Dick Francis. If she were still around, she might have taken a liking to Dan Brown. If she still gives you Easter baskets, I hope she finds a tastier novel for your perusal. May you and yours enjoy the holiday.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Davika I hope you find some great books to read while you are staying home.

    • profile image

      Devika Primic 

      8 weeks ago

      Interesting about this book review, Mel, you share excellent books and give me an idea of it. I appreciate the informative review. Encouraging and worth knowing while staying home.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Road Monkey. As with Origin, The Da Vinci code was a big chase scene in and out of museums, very much like Origin. If you miss this one, you won't be sorry.

      I appreciate you dropping in.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      8 weeks ago

      Thank you very much for this review. That's a book I will not be reading. I think I read the DaVinci code but as I do not remember the storyline, it obviously wasn't too enthralling.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Pam. There is definitely some interesting information in Origin, but as far as being a captivating story, it misses the mark. I appreciate you dropping in.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      I like the Da Vinci Code buy I will pass on reading the Origin. I always enjoy you lunchtime reviews of the books you read. Thanks for the info on this one.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Bill, I think I only read one James Patterson book, given to me by my Father. I guess I have this filial obligation to read things my parents give me. Anyway, while competent, the book didn't exactly sweep me off my feet. It also felt formulaic. From what I understand, James Patterson doesn't even write his own books anymore. He makes up the story and then hires a writer to put it down on paper. Seems like a shady practice, to me. Thanks for dropping in.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Ann I read the Da Vinci code myself shortly after it appeared, so the memory of it is somewhat fuzzy. The book did not give me the impression of being over-simplified for easy digestion, however. With Origin, it is like Dan Brown is sticking with the winning formula, with the downside that he alienates intelligent readers, such as yourself.

      I really appreciate you dropping in.

    • Mel Carriere profile imageAUTHOR

      Mel Carriere 

      8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Did you really get that impression, Eric? How dare you think I would have something other than complete faith in the mental competence of humanity.

      That is why you are a candidate for sainthood, and I am destined for a very dark place. You see nothing but goodness in people, and Lord knows we need somebody like that, because I certainly ain't giving it.

      It pleases me to see you on your feet, feisty and fighting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It may well be that Mr. Brown only had one "good book" in him, and he's going to ride that wave as far as he can until it crests and he is sucked down by the undertow. It would be the first time that has happened to a writer. I'm on big anti-James Patterson crusade for basically the same reason. :) Thanks for the review. I think I'll pass on this book.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      8 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      hihihi - my comment was an imitation of those who read just the headline and the last part. Sorry

      I think I may let you do the book review and then do a "Mel Review" on this one.

      It would seem like you are saying that people who read this kind of stuff are "naive or stupid" -- or some Navy term like that.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      8 weeks ago from SW England

      I get the message! I quite enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but it doesn't need a sequel. There was quite a bit of criticism of that at the time but I guess, from your opinion, that this would attract more!

      Always entertaining, I enjoy reading your lunchtime lit appraisals, Mel.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      8 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I like "Read it", but I like tweed. My children declared turtle necks illegal.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)