Origin by Dan Brown - a Review

Dan Brown's latest novel "Origin" is an entertaining book. Like his previous novels, the author has created a page turner, though the main plot of the book I found to be not too shocking as I could deduce it from the very early on, however, I found this as an absorbing reading because of its presentation of two very basic questions of humanity:
  1. Where do we come from?
  2. Where are we going?
Like the other classic Dan Brown's novels, the protagonist professor Robert Langdon embarks on a whirlwind adventure finding out the puzzle left by a brilliant scientist and futurist Edmond Kirsch and his progeny the artificial intelligence entity called Winston. What is a bit different in Origin than say from Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons is that unlike the more narrower scope of previous stories, this one tries to answer the existential questions of humanity. Some of the pros and cons presented regarding life's origin, it's undeniable future progression and the rise of technology and the impending fusion between humanity and technology that will most possibly give rise to a new hybrid species in very near future are presented well. 

I have also liked the alluring descriptions of various Spanish architecture, it's history, and the author's palpable compassion can be felt underneath this thrilling story. 

A few memorable quotes that I have noted are below: 
“My friends, I am not saying I know for a fact that there is no God. All I am saying is that if there is a divine force behind the universe, it is laughing hysterically at the religions we’ve created in an attempt to define it.”
Yes, that is a good possibility.

Another good quote:
"The most vicious terrorists are not the people who build the bombs, but the influential leaders who fuel hatred among desperate masses, inspiring their foot soldiers to commit acts of violence. It takes only one powerful dark soul to wreak havoc in the world by inspiring spiritual intolerance, nationalism, or loathing in the minds of the vulnerable."  
And on the origin question:
"life indeed spontaneously emerged from lifeless matter…a result of nothing more than the laws of physics.” ...."
the entire operating system of the cosmos could be summed up by a single overriding command: spread energy!”
Another good one:
"“Where do we come from?” he asked. “The truth is—we come from nowhere…and from everywhere. We come from the same laws of physics that create life across the cosmos. We are not special. We exist with or without God. We are the inevitable result of entropy. Life is not the point of the universe. Life is simply what the universe creates and reproduces in order to dissipate energy."
Here are a few quotes regarding where are we going to:
“Human beings are evolving into something different,” he declared. “We are becoming a hybrid species—a fusion of biology and technology."
However, Origin is not only about negating world's organized religions, it also asks to see other perspective, especially the following: "If the laws of physics are so powerful that they can create life…who created the laws?!"

That I still find puzzling. Arguably, we came from nowhere, because of Universe's physical laws to spread energy through entropy, but how did the universal physical laws come about? Professor Langdon, a lifelong agnostic but to me also an inquisitive and spiritual man asks this question. 

A long time ago I'd read another great book by a futurist Ray Kurzweil, the title was "The Singularity is Near", an engrossing book that shook me and first gave me the glimpse of what is possibly going to happen to humanity in near and far future. Dan Brown's Origin I find to be a good fictional account in that same line of thoughtfulness. 

When I was talking to a beloved relative about my reading of Origin by Dan Brown a few days ago, the instinctive response I received was that it was about conspiracy theory. That baffled me a bit, though I know the reputation mostly came from Dan Brown's the famous Da Vinci Code and also Angels and Demons, but though Origin unfolds like a conspiracy story, in the end the writer was able to skillfully pull together all the expanded strings to close all the loops in neat fashion. Sometimes it felt a bit too neat. Though there were twists and turns in every fast paced chapter of this book, and I have enjoyed the reading this thought provoking book, I found the main twist to be decipherable from the earliest time when AI assistant was first introduced. 

Overall, it's a good book to read. And if you are into computer programming or in related scientific field, or if you are curious like most in the world about our origin and humanity's fate or next evolving stage, this is a great book to read for sure.

Here is one last beautiful quote from Origin that I find to be profound: 
"the energy of love and light…blossoming outward infinitely to fill the universe. Love is not a finite emotion. We don’t have only so much to share. Our hearts create love as we need it."