Origin by J.T. Brannan

Publisher: Headline
Pages: 400
Year: 2012 (25 October)
Buy: Paperback, Kindle
Source: Review copy

Origin by J T BrannanReview
When scientist Lynn Edwards uncovers a body trapped below the ice of Antarctica, her days are numbered. This is no victim of a polar storm. These are the remains of a man who died more than 40,000 years ago and with him are materials and objects that aren’t prehistoric, they’re space age. A military team arrives to take Lynn, her colleagues and their find back to the United States but Lynn is not intended to survive the journey. When she does, against all odds, she seeks help from her ex-husband Matt, a native American, tracker and warrior, who has everything to prove to Lynn and himself. The two of them go on the run, fleeing a secret organisation the roots of which have worked extraordinarily deep and wide, while seeking to discover the truth about Lynn’s discovery and its meaning for the origin and destiny of mankind.

I have an innate weakness for mystery or quest thrillers. They fulfil my regular need for fast, exciting escapism, bridging the gap between novels of different genres and styles while serving their own exciting purpose. Origin is one of the most ambitious that I have read in a while. Its scope is vast and, should the baddies pull it off, the impact on the planet and its inhabitants would be catastrophic. Lynn and Matt have no easy task ahead of them, just as well, then, that the two of them have almost superhuman powers of dodging troubles and dangers while leaving a trail of red herrings in their wake.

The story is an intriguing one, taking the reader from Antarctica to the Nazca Lines of Peru, to the offices of power in Washington DC and Area 51 hidden in the deserts of North America. Archaeological puzzles, rock art and DNA are use to tell a thoroughly enjoyable tale alongside the full on action adventure of Matt, Lynn and their enterprising friends. The characters of Lynn and Matt are interesting in themselves, with the extra twist of their divorce as well as the unconventional glimpses of life from a Native American experience.

The adventure pelts along like a runaway train. While this makes the pages almost turn themselves, it does mean that everything is rushed and there is little time for subtlety. It also adds that little extra element of disbelief which is relatively difficult to hold in check with Origin. The ability of Lynn and Matt to survive whatever an increasingly exasperated enemy can throw at them (could you pull your own teeth out in the 30 seconds or so before your vehicle will blow up taking you with it? I’m not sure I could…) is only matched by the sheer audacity of the novel’s twists. There were moments when I had to pick my jaw off the ground and re-attach it to my face.

Nevertheless, Origin is an enjoyable escapist thriller and written well. It doesn’t reach the standards of a Nina and Eddie but so long as you disengage your brain and read it while inhaling big pinches of salt then it will do you no wrong. But it’ll probably put you off helicopters.

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