Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Series: N/A
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN13: 9781595145956
Format: Hardcover, 394 pages
Genre: YA, sci-fi, romance
Source: borrowed from library
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.
Origin is a story of Pia, a perfect, immortal human created through generations of hard work, discovering how to live life and how much her immortality was worth.

Immortality isn't as controversial of a subject as some others are, mainly because it's basically impossible right now. Everyone's been trying ways to make themselves look younger for a longer period of time, or lengthen their life expectancy, but to live forever is something that scientists have only found in one peculiar species of animals. (Random information about the immortal jelly fish can be found here.) Anyways, the way Jessica Khoury incorporated the setting into her idea was very smart. It's no secret that the Amazon holds countless secrets, so there could very well be the key to cheating death inn the middle of the vast jungle.

However, as much as I admire Khoury's incorporation of the Amazon, I can't help but feel that it was a bit lacking in the world-building department. I want to see, hear, smell, feel, taste the Amazon, and even Little Cam, the research lab. Khoury did do a pretty okay job in the jungle bit, but I didn't fully feel immersed in Pia's world.

Some improvement that could be made? The plot. Things fell really tidily into place, I mean like, really? A hole in the fence right on her seventeenth birthday? How very convenient. As well, lots of things moved a bit too fast, like Pia and Eio's relationship, and Pia's character development. Linger on the details, make it subtle and fleeting. Draw it out. Wreak havoc upon my emotions, please.

As for the characters, they truly weren't bad. Pia did come off as a bit rude from time to time, but I want to cut her some slack because she genuinely didn't have the sort of upbringing that'd allow her to learn the sort of interaction that we use in our world. That sort of skill was perceived as next to useless at Little Cam. Nevertheless, I found Pia's narrative quite refreshing, and new, because of the environment she grew up in. However, I felt like I didn't connect all that much with Eio, her male counterpart. Maybe it was because there was less of him in the story? Perhaps, but it could very well be a good thing, since the romance wouldn't overwhelm the story and swallow it up. NOM. One character who did stand out more than Eio, however, was Aunt Harriet (spoiler alert: she's not Pia's aunt), a.k.a. Dr. Klutz. It was Harriet who taught Pia to act like a teenager, who sneaked her out of the lab to see Eio, who's doing all this despite the danger it poses to her job. This time, I'm not cheering for a dude in the story. I am whole-heartedly Team Harriet. With a dash of sass.

To tie things up, Origin had an intriguing idea, a fantastically chosen setting, and a wonderful cast of characters. While Origin didn't blow my mind (I wanted more expansion on the sci-fi), I enjoyed reading it very much, and found it to be a stunning debut from Khoury.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley - This one has been around for a while, so you definitely should check it out. In a world where immortality is the norm, a few rumours about how it's bad is certainly going to stir up some arguements . . .
Beta by Rachel Cohn - A girl created in a lab, taught to do one thing in life. Similar, but still different.
False Memory by Dan Krokos - A bunch of scientists come together and pretty much create a new human race? Yes, please.
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