Origin by Dan Brown – a review

Origin is a 2017 novel by American author Dan Brown and the fifth installment in his Robert Langdon series, following Angels & DemonsThe Da Vinci CodeThe Lost Symbol, and Inferno.

I’m a sucker for Tom Hanks, the Harvard University professor of religious iconology and symbology. 

Did enjoy the 4 proceeding books.

I like the exotic settings. The insights into history. The references to science.

Origin takes us to Spain. Bilbao and Barcelona.

People complain that Brown’s books are formulaic. This one follows the usual formula though the chase is not quite as convoluted.

My favourite character is Winston, a quantum-computer AI assistant, named after Winston Churchill. This book is tech heavy, another thing I enjoyed.

The plot is as grandiose as it gets:

Where do we come from?
…. Where are we going?

Those who hate Dan Brown will really hate this book. For those who enjoy the escapism … it may be his best yet.

I recommend the book. GoodReads has it at 3.94 / 5 as I post.



The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

 Fifth Season is a 2015 science fantasy novel by N. K. Jemisin. It was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016. It is the first volume in the Broken Earth series …

The Fifth Season takes place on a planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness. Every few centuries, its inhabitants endure what they call a “Fifth Season” of catastrophic climate change …

Orogenes: People with the ability to control energy, particularly that of the earth (directly) and temperature (indirectly). They can cause and prevent earthquakes, and when angered can unintentionally kill living things …

Guardians: Warriors, hunters, and assassins tasked with controlling orogenes …

Stone eaters: Moving sculpture-like beings …

The Fifth Season is being adapted for television …

Jemisin won the Hugo two years in a row for this series. It’s getting rave reviews. But I found the plot too complicated. Precious inventiveness over proper storytelling. I’ve no plans to continue on to book 2.

In fact … I downloaded the new Dan Brown instead.

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (2006)

I really enjoyed Old Man’s War (2005), the first book in the series.

Assumed the sequel would be not nearly as good.

Happily, I was wrong. Ghost Brigades is quite different. But just as good.

The Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) learn that one of their top consciousness transfer scientists, Charles Boutin, has turned traitor and sparked an unprecedented alliance between three other species to wipe out humanity. …

The CDF send a clone of the traitor to apprehend. After all, a clone knows him best.

It’s juvenile in one way, appealing to teenage boys. But quite complex in other ways. A believable alternative universe.

I plan to continue to books 3  and 4 –  The Last Colony (2007) and Zoe’s Tale (2008).

Jar City: A Reykjavi­k Thriller (2006)

When a lonely old man is found dead in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl’s grave. Inspector Erlendur discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man’s past come back to haunt him?

I was interested in the Iceland setting. And had seen good reviews for this book.

Jar City was published 2000 but did not come out in English until 2005 and later.

I was a bit disappointed, actually. The plot compares poorly against the best in the genre. Ian Rankin, for example.

I’m not sure I’ll carry on with any other books in the series.

On the other hand, I’ve heard that subsequent books are better.

Jar City was made into an Icelandic film.

Stephen King – It (1986)

I can’t explain it. 

Only the 3rd Stephen King book I’ve read, It was much like the other two. Far, far too lengthy. 

… narrative bagginess … circuitous, repetitious book … a thousand sprawling pages …

Adrian Daub – Where “It” Was: Rereading Stephen King’s “It” on Its 30th Anniversary

All three King books I’ve read would have been much improved by being half the length.

The unnecessary and weird sex thing would be first to go. What’s with that?

I vow never to read King again. And that’s a shame because he’s such a good story teller.

I did not see the 1990 television miniseries and hope never to watch the new hit film adaptation nor the inevitable sequel(s).  Scary movies are not my thing.



Stephen King – The Stand

Stephen King has 7 book adaptations coming to TV or film in 2017. He’s bigger than ever.

This may be the second Stephen King book I’ve read after 11/22/63: A Novel. Millions love The Stand, many considering it to be his best.

Obviously King’s a great story teller with mass appeal.

There are some terrific characters in this book. King understands people. He understands Trump voters, I’m sure.

Stephen King hates Trump. That might be one reason I read this book.

The Stand is a post-apocalyptichorror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. …

… the total breakdown of society after the accidental release of a strain of influenza that had been modified for biological warfare causes an apocalyptic pandemic which kills off the majority of the world’s human population. …

The novel was originally published in 1978 in hardcover, with a setting date of 1980. … The book was later re-released in 1990 as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition (the longest book published by King at 1152 pages); King restored some text originally cut for brevity, added and revised sections, changed the setting of the story to 1990 …

The miniseries was broadcast in 1994 … In February 2016, The Stand movie had been put on hold …

Some criticize the book for being racist. I didn’t feel that way. It’s an epic of Good v Evil. The evil guys are racist.

I didn’t love the book. But liked it enough to download Stephen King – It: A Novel (2016).

related – Zack HandlenWhat I Learned From Re-Reading Stephen King’s The Stand

Ubik by Philip K. Dick (1979)

Ubik is one of Dick’s most acclaimed novels. It was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest novels since 1923. …

The novel is set in the year 1992, by when humanity has colonized the Moon and psychic powers are common. …

Each chapter is introduced by a commercial advertising Ubik as a different product serving a specific use. The last chapter is introduced by Ubik claiming that it has created and directed the universe …

It might be brilliant. But — for me — I found it too confusing. Difficult to follow.

I never finished it.