In Origins (2017), Dan Brown demonstrate the success of his formula. Religious zealots, exotic locales, great artworks and architecture, an attractive and intelligent woman, assassins, and, most of all, conspiracies. Once again, he exercises his ability to write persuasively and intelligently about scientific matters and great works of art. Though the surface might be persuasive, the substance beneath is not. Over his six or so novels, he has improved and refined his formula, so that he is able to build tension and develop his narrative at a frantic pace, even when, upon careful study, you notice that nothing much is happening. The build-up to an assassination that lies at the center of the novel takes forever to unfold, and though the tension does build it is counterbalanced by tedium.
The premise of this novel is that a famous and provocative scientist who loves public attention and has invented many world-changing devices (read in place of his name Elon Musk, Steve Jobs) is about to announce a discovery that will change how people think about the human race and that will answer once and for all the questions of where did we come from and where are we headed. He is also certain that his revelation will upend and ultimately bring down world religions. Not surprisingly, religious leaders want to stop him. Not surprisingly, someone starts killing those leaders. Not surprisingly, there are false leads, unexpected revelations, clues, secret codes, passwords, monks, priests, rabbis, imams, and youngsters on four-wheeled vehicles.
Everything is at stake here: the future of humankind, identity, God, religion, artificial intelligence, technology, authoritarian governments, homosexuality, and the Spanish monarchy. There were moments and points of interest. But after the tension ceased to build, tedium set in.
Most of all, the discovery itself is a letdown.