I first heard of J.A. Konrath through the Amazon Vine programme; I had chosen one of his books, Shaken (Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mysteries) (Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Series), to review and ended up really enjoying it, even if it I hadn't read the previous instalments of that series. Therefore, when I heard of `Origin' via the author's own blog, I decided to purchase a copy to read on the Kindle. Konrath had challenged his readers to all download the book for a very competitive promotional price, thus helping to push it towards the top of the Amazon Kindle Charts; in return, the author would donate money to a literacy charity in the US. As it was all in aid of a good cause, I downloaded the book.
The novel was actually written in 1999 under the pseudonym of Jack Kilborn and is described as a `Technothriller'. No spoilers will follow, but in brief, Andrew Dennison, a translator and a polyglot, is recruited by the President of the United States to work at an underground, top secret government research facility in the middle of the desert. A `demon' is kept at close guard in the facility, where he had been lying comatose for nearly a century. But he has now woken up and Andrew Dennison is needed to act as an interpret or translator. I won't go into too much detail but of course, things don't quite go according to plan.
At first I wasn't too sure about this story; it was a bit slow to start with. I was, however, intrigued by the references to linguistics in the plot; different languages are mentioned at several points within the narrative and I thought it was quite unusual to have a male character who was specialist in that field. The `demon', who is referred to as `Bub', didn't seem very frightening to me - in fact, I found him quite ridiculous. However, humour is one of Konrath's trademarks and there was an underlying menace in the `monster' that kept me on my toes. By the time I was half-way through the book (it's quite short, at about 300 Kindle pages) I couldn't put it down, and I had to stay up until 2:00 A.M. to finish it.
Of course this is - as another reviewer here pointed out - a `popcorn' read. It's entertainment and it doesn't try to be particularly deep, although I would argue that it does manage to raise a few interesting questions on the origins of humanity, on religion and on the power of our beliefs (I'll shut up now - no spoilers!). It has a distinctively cinematic quality to it and I wasn't surprised when I subsequently read in the afterword to `Origin' that the author had originally come up with the idea of the book as `Jurassic Park meets The Exorcist'. The snappy dialogue, the predictable romantic interest, the fast paced action - all essential ingredients adding to the `movie' experience. In fact, if there is a movie producer browsing Amazon right now, may I suggest that they option this book and start turning it into a script?
This was the second book of Konrath's that I have read - I am definitely going to read more of his work. It's fun and fast-paced but by no means dumb.
PS - As 'extras', the book contains excerpts to two further novels: 'Disturb' and 'Beneath'.
ORIGIN J A Konrath (Jack Kilborn) Kindle Edition
J.A. Konrath, who also writes as Jack Kilborn is a well established author of novels which span the genres of Horror, Science-Fiction, Mystery and Techo-Thrillers and it was the recent reading of `Draculas' to which he was a contributing author that led me to search out other of his creations that I may have missed. ORIGIN was one such and is a real gem.
When linguist Andrew Dennison is virtually kidnapped by the American Secret Service at the specific command of the President he finds himself taken to a ultra secret underground establishment in the desert staffed by a team of social and scientific experts; all of whom are misfits in the outside world. Their task is to examine a creature which has been secretly held at the bunker like facility since 1906 and to try to figure out if it is a real live demon or perhaps even Satan Himself. At the beginning the creature seems benign and co-operative but soon the situation changes and, and the team are fighting for their lives and the lives of everyone on the planet.
The story is a refreshing change and since it was originally written in the late 1990s has retained a lot of the style and energy of that era. This is no handsome demon racked with guilt but a full on lying, murderous, undying monster bent on world destruction. The story is full of action, tension, demons, monsters and the threat of nuclear destructions, a fast paced thriller which I found hard to put down until I had read it through to the end, which I did. I find that I am now at an age where I do not need much sleep but still quickly get bored when I am awake and so spend most nights reading or watching movies. I got through this novel in a single sitting with only one break for liquid in and out.
Another great story from Konrath/Kilborn, I am amazed that the author states he was unable to sell this book when it was newly written, but I have now downloaded the Kindle Edition and will definitely add this to my `read again' file.
on 12 June 2012
Sucked in from the first paragraph is the only way to describe Origin. The first twenty percent of the book is as good as any thriller I've read. I couldn't wait to read more.
There wasn't a clear cut-off point, but things slowed down. Not necessarily in a bad way, we just learn more about the plot and possible blooming romances. A few chapters later, it picked back up again and never stopped.
You know those movies when every time something bad happens, something worse happens? If you don't enjoy that type of movie, don't pick up this book. I kept thinking, "Oh, man. This really sucks. Maybe they'll do this or this." Nope. Konrath kicks you in the stomach with the next twist.
No doubt, Origin fits in the horror genre. I'm not a huge fan of horror, but there was enough suspense and storyline to keep me enthralled. I definitely wouldn't suggest this one for the squeamish.
I do have one complaint, and it's my preference, nothing to do with how the book was written. I wish Konrath had delved deeper into the demon's history, maybe more about the religious ramifications. I'm just nosy and wanted to see how Konrath would throw things together.
Fast read, simple, well worth the money.
on 29 November 2013
Basically a story of demon, named Bub, who the American government have decided to experiment on. They house him in an uber secret facility, feed him only sheep, expect answers to ALL of mankinds questions and wonder why he gets pissed off, tries to escape and hatch his master plan to obliterate humanity.
Great blend of weird but damaged characters, which is my first niggle because if "you" seriously had this terrifying secret you needed to keep would you allow that calibre of person to be responsible for it? With no other military presence?
But then I guess there would be no real failure in procedure and the story would be pretty boring!
I enjoyed the relationships between all of them but really found the holies annoying with their religious double speak although you could feel the depth of research that JAK had done within the language element and the biology as it just oozes off the page. However the biblical pondering goes on way too long and I found myself skipping some of the genome waffle as it did not really enhance the story at all, IMO.
One of the main characters is a linguist; however as soon as he walks into the room with Bub, the demon decides to speak English! Kind of negates his need to be there really and think he could have been expanded much further in reading of the casket etc I feel that JAK merely skimmed the surface of what could have been a very in depth and complex story line.
Another brilliant description yet niggle was the "facility" it was so huge yet had no staff; who did the maintenance? When they dropped off food who did the unloading? What about humans needing sunlight to live? And could they not have had a hydroponics unit for fresh food?
Humour is one of JAK trademarks but im not sure he meant Bub to be quite so "cute" - I did not really find him terrifying so was nose wrinkling when I read the "reactions" of the team when they first meet him, or maybe I just read too much horror.
I wish JAK had expanded on his history a little more, maybe played with Bubs inner dialogue more. Don't get me wrong he is no huggable, fluffy demon, he has his gorefest moments but felt there could have been more.
Other reviews have suggested that this is a "popcorn" book and I would be disappointed to know that his how JAK intended it, as the basic concept is pretty awesome and possibly could have been executed a bit better with a longer novel. It does have some interesting arguments about the beginnings of humanity and our need for religion and where all the legends stem from.
The windup to escape is pretty tense as no character is safe, which is always good in a novel, although how you can put up with that much physical injury and still climb a ladder amazes me, but sometimes you need to suspend belief.
My final niggle is the internal bombs, why does Bub just not dig them out sooner? I dislike when authors just suddenly blag a bit or change a basic function of a character to help them out of a jammy bit of storyline; that's so Hollywood.
Overall I really loved this book, the ending is pretty awesome and I really look forward to a sequel. This would make a great film, as the action is all very visual and the time line is pretty straight, with maybe a few flashbacks.
on 6 February 2013
I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS BOOK WAS REJECTED BY PUBLISHERS, IT'S GOT PACE, ACTION, TENSION AND TWISTS AND TURNS. EVERYTHING YOU WOULD WANT IN A GOOD HORROR. IF LIKE ME YOU CHOOSE TO READ THIS GENRE OF LITERACY DON'T EXPECT BELIEVABLE AND TRUE TO LIFE AND YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED, THIS IS A GOOD UNCOMPLICATED, EASY READ WHICH WOULD PROBABLY MAKE A GOOD MOVIE.
on 13 July 2014
Absolutely loved it! I won't review the book's content - several reviewers have given detailed reviews which are better than I could manage. I even agree with some of the low-star reviewers that the story is far-fetched, over-the-top, etc etc. But despite that, Konrath/Kilborn's writing style is, in my opinion, brilliant. A blend of humour, action, and originality which I love. The story gives some in-depth meaningful (well, not to me) discussion on Christian and Jewish theology, and on linguistics. This indicates that Konrath has done a fair amount of research, which implies planning and forethought. This seems to be trademark of his work - I've read several of his books and the same level of research is apparent in different fields. I got it free, but at £2.44 current price, still well worth it.
on 25 January 2012
I found it a good read. The prologue was intriguing -- a bit of history that brought to mind the beginning of the film "My Science Project", also involving a president. This wasn't a copy of that, though. The first chapter -- the one where you're wrenched into the present -- was well done, with the presidents men knocking at the door at 3 a.m. Then, the setting opens up to us bit by bit through the eyes of Andy the linguist, before moving on to other narrative points of view.
He and eight others are the only ones, outside of the President, and possibly a few others who were sworn to secrecy (like ex-presidents, presumably), who know about the creature, allegedly the devil himself. At least he looks like the classical depiction of the devil. Through Andy's expertise, they get the creature talking. He's ancient. He knows Latin, Hebrew and Mayan, but he quickly learns English. His actual history is illusive, as we never know whether to believe the creature or not.
The other characters are a mixture. Sun, the vet, has recently been called in to check the creature's health. There's a priest and a rabbi. As one who has had exposure to both religions, I can say they're believably portrayed. Joe Konrath has also done enough reading up on things like ancient languages and DNA to at least sound believable. The narrative is spiced up by the banter between the rabbi and priest, chemistry between Andy and Sun, the secret desires of the doctor, and the hidden histories of each one (enabling the President to blackmail them into staying put), in an underground world equipped with everything only the army would think sufficient for the good life. He takes us from what seems like a science fiction techno-thriller, to what could pass as a horror story.
...and, to answer an earlier reviewer (the one who repeatedly forgot to say "spoiler alert"): yes, in an project where even the president has a limited pool of human resource, where they've been locked underground, not seeing the outside world for however long, given a history of government inefficiency, I would expect inept bungling such as what happens in the story.
At least the story kept me on til the "uh-oh" ending.
author of Pepe
on 8 February 2012
I always think it slightly arrogant of us amateur reviewers to critique a professional product: but we are the customers, after all.. When I say 'surprisingly', this is only because I have experienced minor disappointments with the quality of lower-priced Kindle editions - but Origin is definitively not in that category. The style is fluid and fast-paced; as other reviewers have alluded to, the 'movie' like feel of chapters and scenes is evident, as is the plot development, but still with oodles of originality and visceral reality in many of the descriptive scenes. Characters are likeable, flawed, vulnerable and believable - not a massive amount of depth but enough to make you want them to survive.
I've read (and rate) a number of Graham Masterton's novels and I think this compares admirably with those: and is way better than a lot of self-styled 'technothrillers' that really don't feature the quality of writing present in Origin.
Original, great characterisation, superbly judged touches of humour, conspiracy and romance - probably just a hint of Resident Evil - great entertainment and worth substantially more than the the low-price ticket for Kindle. I'll be reading more of Mr Konrath's writing in the coming weeks as it's rare that I'll read any novel at only two sittings, but I only put this one down as I fell asleep in bed! Highly recommended!
on 23 August 2013
This book is definitely a story of 2 parts.
First off is introducing the creature, Bub. Is he the devil? Or an alien? Or what? I liked the mix of characters investigating him. I did skip some of the theological stuff as that seemed to go on a bit.
Then comes the action part of the story and that was quite a roller coaster ride of the gory kind. What Bub does to anyone who gets in his way is nasty to say the least.
I did enjoy this book. It was a page turner of a read.
on 20 May 2013
The discovery of what may or may not be a demon/the devil and what occurs when a presidentially appointed team of scientists, linguists and experts interact with it is not a plot device that I have come across before, and initially, showed plenty of hope for the remainder of the book.
However, the story loses its flow and cohesion from around the middle onward, and takes on more of a horror slant rather abruptly, and from there on in becomes rather trite and James Herbert-esque, with less depth, and the loss of its earlier promise.
Origin has a strong concept and opens with a strong start, but I feel that more could have been done with this fairly unique idea, and the story could have been taken in any one of many much more promising directions than it ultimately took.
Origin is very readable and keeps you turning the pages until the end, but I feel that the story lost its momentum and direction part way through and instead went tangentially off in a well tried-and-tested but fairly unimaginative "monster threatens the fate of humanity and is fought by a small team of misfits and civilians against all odds" style, which made me feel that the writer either lost interest in the story or ran out of steam after the initial few chapters.