I just recently read and enjoyed Dan Brown’s latest book, Origin. I noticed that a couple of times I had a bit of awkward guilt when I told people that I enjoy Dan Brown. But after a while, I thought: Why? Why do I care? I’m just going to go out there and say it: I love reading Dan Brown books, and I am not ashamed! They are fun, entertaining, and some of the best page-turners I’ve ever read. Dan Brown sure knows how to end a chapter on a cliffhanger, and make you read another 50 pages when you’d planned to go to sleep.
Basically, I feel like Dan Brown gets a lot of unnecessary slack. It takes me reading a new book or stopping and thinking just how much I enjoyed Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code to remember this. There are always lists of books such as ‘100 Books to Read Before You Die’ that include The Da Vinci Code, which results in a lot of angry comments from people claiming it shouldn’t count.
So why do so many people claim to hate Dan Brown?
Of course, there was the giant scandal that was the release of The Da Vinci Code. It’s fiction, people! I was around 15 when I read The Da Vinci Code and I loved it! It was one of the best adventure books I’d read to date and I loved learning about the history of places that Langdon visits on his travels. But even as a teenager, I was well aware that the whole Holy Grail thing was just fiction. A lot was clearly made up for plot, because that’s how fiction works!
Dan Brown takes real-life locations and often objects and then creates fictional stories based on them.
It’s really not a hard concept. Michael Crichton did similar things. When reading a Michael Crichton book, you’re definitely going to learn some fun things, while also being aware that he has created various things for fictional entertainment. For example, in Jurassic Park, the setting is Costa Rica. The book opens with a whole lot of interesting facts about the island of Costa Rica and the animals that live there. However, then the book goes on to be about genetically engineered dinosaurs. Which is clearly fiction.
Many people say they don’t like Dan Brown’s writing, or that they think it’s poor. Well here’s the thing: he sells millions of copies of each book, so clearly a lot of people enjoy his writing enough.
There’s a very impressive skill that Dan Brown has, and that is creating tension and the need to keep reading. As previously mentioned, his books are some of the strongest page-turners I’ve ever read. They also have one of my favourite things: tiny chapters. I love books with tiny chapters! It makes me feel so much more accomplished as I whiz through them, and also, more often than not I actually do read them faster as the whole “I’ll just read one more chapter … oh this next one is only 3 pages, I’ll just read another chapter…” mentality kicks in.
Dan Brown clearly puts a lot of research into his novels. He travels to the places he mentions and researches even the tiniest things so that he can throw it into a sentence by way of explaining a location, character, or even some non-essential dialogue.
If anything, they’re slightly formulaic. This can be seen in the way that Langdon is sent to a certain location, or asked to attend a conference, shit goes down, and he must essentially save the world/humanity etc. All of this with the help of his eidetic memory and his knowledge of symbols. There is also always a female companion of some sort. Similar to James Bond, Indiana Jones and Doctor Who.
But hey, if you’ve got a formula that works, keep it!
Thoughts on Origin (Robert Langdon #5)
I gave this book a 4/5 stars on my Goodreads. Basically, this book was so close to getting a 5, as I absolutely loved most of it, until around the three-quarter mark. I feel like there was such a gigantic lead up to things for the whole book, it also destroyed the climax a little bit. That being said, the climax was still entertaining and fun, and the rest of the book ended well for me.
As Robert Langdon is so clearly based on Indiana Jones, there are always certain things that are always guaranteed. Mostly, there will be an attractive female who will go on the adventure with Robert Langdon. These characters are not necessarily love interests, but there’s always some kind of attraction. In this case, the female lead was a character called Ambra Vidal. I must say, she’s probably my favourite of these characters. She was smart, but not so smart that it’s thrown in your face, she was entertaining, she got stuff done, but also, she had an amazing job. I loved Ambra, and I wish I could meet her in real life!
I will definitely be continuing to read Dan Brown’s books as they come out as I always know that by reading them, I am guaranteed a fun, suspenseful, page-turning adventure novel, set in awesome locations. And there’s nothing wrong with that!