Monday, March 10, 2014

Origin by Jessica Khoury Review

Origin by Jessica Khoury
Series: Origin #1
Published by 
Razorbill
Publish Date: September 4, 2012

394 Pages
Source: Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Pia has always known her destiny. She is meant to start a new race, a line of descendants who will bring an end to death. She has been bred for no other purpose, genetically engineered to be immortal and raised by a team of scientists in a secret compound hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. Now those scientists have begun to challenge her, with the goal of training her to carry on their dangerous work.

For as long as she can remember, Pia’s greatest desire has been to fulfill their expectations. But then one night she finds a hole in the impenetrable fence that surrounds her sterile home. Free in the jungle for the first time in her life, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Unable to resist, she continues sneaking out to see him. As they fall in love, they begin to piece together the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with nothing less than deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin 
is a beautifully told, electric new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever. But is eternal life worth living if you can’t spend it with the one you love? (from Goodreads) 



Origin by Jessica Khoury

My Thoughts:  Pia is a sixteen/almost-seventeen year old girl that has been raised in Little Cam, a small, compound hidden away in a remote part of the jungle, away from all civilization, for her entire life. She is immortal and is being trained and educated so she can one day take over as director at Little Cam in order to continue research and create an entire race of immortal people just like her. This thrills Pia - this is all she has ever wanted because all she has ever been told is how great she is and how wonderful being immortal must be and how great it will be for the world when there are more immortals just like perfect Pia. Interestingly enough, while Pia has knowledge that surpasses most people in subjects such as science and mathematics, she has been kept extremely sheltered from life outside of the compound. She knows nothing of the world - nothing about other countries, nothing about world history, nothing about pop culture. She has read nothing in literature except for the text books provided for her at Little Cam. Her learning is expressly controlled and dictated by the very scientists that encourage her to be more like them. So far, Pia has never questioned this and led a very happy life. 

For her seventeenth birthday, Pia is given a birthday party in which there is dancing, a cake, and music. Pia notices that some of the scientists pair off into couples and dance - as she watches them, their interactions interest her. She notices a difference in the way they interact, as if they are attracted to one another - particularly one couple. The two act almost as if they have a crush on each other, although Pia doesn't quite understand these actions or feelings, as she has never experienced them before. She has always been told not to let love and romance get in the way of her objective, which is immortality and furthering the immortal race. 

On the same night of this party, Pia happens to notice a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam and acting on a whim - she leaves to see what is out there. Pia explores the jungle and doesn't get very far before she comes face-to-face with A BOY. This boy, Eio, is from a neighboring native village and is very attractive to Pia. Soon Pia finds herself sneaking out to see Eio, even when the fence is repaired, and even after her sneaking around is discovered. Eio shows her things outside the prison-like borders of Little Cam that Pia has never experienced before (like a river), and she loves the freedom of the jungle. Pia realizes that these feelings and emotions that she is experiencing for the first time with and over Eio are a force to contend with: they are strong and they are working against her life's objective. Suddenly Pia has not one but two very important things on her mind: furthering her studies at Little Cam so she can create more immortals AND continuing to see Eio and building her relationship with him. 

Also burning in Pia's mind a heart: the more time she spends away from Little Cam, the more Pia begins to question exactly what is going on there. As she seeks answers to some of her questions, Pia despises what she finds and realizes that she has been lied to for her entire life. Throughout the story, Pia is continuously faced with some tough decisions, many of which affect not only her but other people as well in very big ways. 

While maintaining an easy balance, Origin has a ton of stuff inside the story: ethical issues galore, romance, free will, morality, etc. It was certainly a book that made me think while I read it, but not in such a heavy way that it overshadowed the story. I enjoyed it quite a bit. 


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Origin by Jessica Khoury is one of those stories that had an interesting summary - interesting enough to make me read it - but once I started the book, I realized that the story was much better than I imagined it would be. I found myself wrapped in Pia's world very quickly and it was not hard to imagine myself in the middle of a camp in a jungle somewhere, cut off from civilization as I know it, trying to imagine what life was like for this immortal girl. For a while, Pia is a happy girl - she goes through the motions of her day-to-day life and does what is expected of her with an end-goal in mind...until she begins to suspect that there is more to the world that what she has been raised to believe. Once Pia leaves Little Cam, I felt like the story really took off and went from exciting to very exciting as I went through thing after thing after thing with her, waiting to see how everything would unfold for this immortal girl. 

Pia is such an interesting character because she is strong and also weak. She has some superhuman strengths that go along with being immortal but she has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that come with being completely sheltered from "the real world" for her entire life. I can envision Pia as a young person that would almost not know how to act socially because she is basically the young person in Little Cam and has been for years. She has had almost no interaction with other young people and she is pretty much a genius as far as most of her education goes. BUT where Pia is weak, she WANTS to make up for it and she is like a sponge when she is "let loose." What I mean is that once Pia realizes that she has deficits or lacks skills in areas like geography or literature, she makes it a point to fix that problem the best way she possibly can. She does the same when she comes across Eio out in the jungle. 

Pia and Eio have an unusual meeting, but almost instantly they click. Eio begins right away to teach Pia things about the world - he shows her actual things - and he also causes her to think critically about her life and what she is doing at Little Cam. Eio is a great character - I actually think I liked him more than I liked Pia. He is strong and courageous and different in ways that almost mirror Pia, but not like you may think. In the story, Eio always seemed to turn up when I least expected him and I enjoyed all of his scenes. 

The romance between Pia and Eio is one that seems fairly obvious given that they are the only two young people around, but I still enjoyed it. It isn't exactly insta-love (more like insta-attraction) and it isn't exactly a slow-burn - it just IS. I also enjoyed reading about Eio's village and the people that lived there. 

Origin by Jessica Khoury is a fast-paced story with plenty of action. I felt interested throughout and wondered at all times what was coming next. I am astounded at all of the knowledge or research (or maybe a combination of both?) required for this story and even more astounded at the author's ability to build such a vivid world with her words. I felt like I was right there, in the jungle, and I loved it. 

I recommend Origin by Jessica Khoury for fans of YA Science Fiction with just a dash of romance and a great setting. I think both girls and guys would enjoy this book and I'm interested in seeing where this series goes. (Thankful for no cliffhanger!)

**Sidenote: To everyone that dislikes 'insta-love' - put yourself in the story, picture yourself without a person your age - TEENAGER - for your entire life, then put yourself face-to-face with a person of the opposite sex that is easy on the eyes and lives in the jungle. You don't have to insta-love them, but I BET YOU'LL BE INSTA-ATTRACTED TO THEM. It's not so bad, you guys. It worked super well in the story. 

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Origin will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Science Fiction
Romance: I'd say pretty quick attraction. No triangle.  
(The book is clear on this.)
Great Setting & World-Building
Great & Varied Secondary Cast
(including a WOW Villain)
Science

Origin by Jessica Khoury
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read ORIGIN yet? 

It is on your to-read or wishlist? 



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5 comments:

  1. I love when a book surprises me and is much better than I was ever expecting! Sounds like this did that for you :)

    PS You are right, that summary is very vague overall on what the story is about...

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  2. I liked this book but didn't absolutely adore it. Parts were a bit overplayed and the love was a bit too quick for me (I'm into slow burn lately!) but, overall, an interesting story, different than we usually see in YA, which I appreciated.

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  3. I've been on the fence about reading this one...I think you've just convinced me that I should give it a try!! Thanks for the review :)

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  4. This sounds pretty interesting. I know there has been a fair amount of negativity towards this book - primarily towards the romance, I believe (which I'm glad you addressed). I'll definitely have to keep this in mind when I'm in the mood for a sci fi that does deal with some ethical and moral issues.

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  5. Oh yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It felt a bit more like insta-love for me, sadly, which I don't always mind really, but I just didn't quite click with it. There were a lot of interesting aspects and I loved the sci-fi aspect too! I'm interested in checking out Jessica's future works!

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