Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Origin

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October 02, 2017 at 05:13 PM EDT

Over and over Origin asks the questions Where do we come from? Where are we going? They are questions about humanity — but they could just as easily be questions about Robert Langdon.

The Mickey Mouse watch-wearing, claustrophobic, always-near-trouble symbology professor is back in Dan Brown’s latest book. And just like he was in his original exploits (Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code), Dr. Langdon is once again wrapped up in a global-scale event that could have massive ramifications on the world’s religions.

The book begins when Langdon travels to Spain at the request of Edmond Kirsch, a former student who is about to make an earth-shattering announcement at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (he’s issued a cryptic press release that says, “Futurist Edmond Kirsch to announce discovery that will change the face of science”). Langdon arrives without having any idea what Kirsch plans to say — and when the event goes tragically awry, it’s up to him to track down Kirsch’s discovery and unveil it to the world.

All the requisite trappings of a Langdon adventure are here: a smart, beautiful female sidekick (albeit an engaged one), plenty of puzzles and clues, and — of course — lots of religious iconography. Plus, there’s one 2017 update: Langdon gets assistance throughout the book from an AI that could run circles around Siri and Alexa. Siri may know how to give walking directions, but she’s never helped anyone dodge police while doing it. But other than that technological addition, Brown doesn’t mess much with his formula: Origin is similar in format, tone, and style to the other books in the series. In other words, people who have never liked Brown’s books won’t find anything to change their minds here, but his legions of fans will likely find this new thrill ride hard to put down.

As he does in all his novels, Brown spackles over any weaknesses in the plot with the richness of his true-to-life details. His extensive research on art, architecture, and history informs every page. Origin‘s characters may be questioning faith and science, but it’s hard to get too bogged down in the issues when the main character is on a life-or-death adventure in Spain’s most beautiful museums and landmarks. B

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