January 22, 2013
Author: Jessica Khoury
Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Goodreads Summary: Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home–and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin–a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.
Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.
- With a pulse-pounding ending that had her on the edge of her seat, Christina places this title on her second shelf.
The Lowdown: Away from the modern world and hidden deep within the Amazon rain forest is a secret scientific laboratory with a highly classified agenda. This tiny community is tasked with the almost unimaginable purpose of developing an immortal human race by any means necessary. During the span of a hundred plus years and specific genetic manipulation over several generations of a few chosen families have led to Pia, the first of a new breed- an immortal one. With heightened senses, impenetrable skin, and natural resistance to any form of disease or infection, Pia is the perfect girl.
For all of Pia’s sixteen years of existence, she’s been confined to Little Cam and kept away from all other forms of civilization. She can name genomes, quote the periodic table forward and backwards, solve formulaic equations in her head within a matter of seconds, but knows little about the world around her or the people that inhabit it. All she has to go on is the censored information she reads in texts and a few secret details she hears whispered between the other scientist and workers that have raised her. With most of her days spent dedicated to performing tests to prove that she’s ready to join the scientific team to help create more immortals like herself, Pia has never really felt the need to question her people or how she came to be, though she’s always been curious as to her origin.
However, all that changes on her seventeenth birthday when Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that has kept her imprisoned for all of her life. Abandoning all her rational reasoning, she escapes to the outside jungle and a whole new world is opened to her first the first time ever. Yet, it’s the chance meeting of a native boy from a nearby village named Eio that really makes Pia question her upbringing and what it really means to be immortal. With a boy that challenges her ideals and reasoning, Pia struggles to balance the hold of the destiny her very existence means and a life of freedom far removed from it.
Author Ego-Booster: Ms. Khoury has a way with words that easily constructs a world around you and the characters beside you. Her prose and world-building are a bit like sensory overload, but in a good way. You can taste the richness of the food, feel the softness of the animals, see the vibrancy of the colors of the surrounding forest, hear the call of the wild animals and rain and wind, and smell the damp earth and delicate scents of the blossoming flowers around you. With lush descriptions of the rain forest and all that dwells inside and out of it, I felt very much a part of Pia’s world. It was a fantastic escape.
Also, her characters had a depth about them that felt so real to me. Though almost every single one of them had their flaws that showed frequently, most also had a tenderness or gentle nature about them that made their character believable. Even the cruelest, most devious of them had soft spots that made it easy for me, as a reader, to understand why it was so easy for Pia to believe in their words and ignore some of their less-than-desirable behavior.
The Drawback: I struggled to get through the beginning of this book because there was a lot of backstory to be told, so it moved a bit slow for my taste. To build on that, there was also a good bit of information that went over my head as far as Pia’s studies and way of rationalizations went. Initially, it didn’t bother me because I reasoned it was a part of her character-building and that was how she processed information because she’s basically a genius with an infallible memory, but soon it grew redundant (not in the repetition of specific information, but in the fact that there were basically all these words/species/genetic attributes and information that I didn’t easily understand, and therefore made me feel stupid and like I needed a Google contact on speed dial. I digress…). But that all changed after her first escape into the jungle where she met Eio, and therefore changed her(and the reader’s) life forever.
Special Notes: There is animal testing in this book, and it’s a tad graphic. Or at least it was for me. Although it is mentioned that it’s frowned upon by most everyone and these “scientists” are radical in their ideas and agendas, in the the long run, those scenes were a little difficult for me to get through. So, fair warning.
Verdict: I may have trudged through the beginning of this book, but once I allowed myself to get immersed in the story, I became completely captivated. With a butterfly-inducing love story and action that will kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end, my heart was in my throat and my stomach was at my feet during the race for Pia to uncover all the secrets that led to her creation.
This book is original and if you’re looking for a good stand-alone to fit in between all the other series your following, I’d recommend this novel to you.
♥ A very special thanks goes to ARCycling and Karen from For What It’s Worth Reviews for providing this ARC of Origin for me to review.