Monday, October 1, 2012

In the jungle: ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury

ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury
YA Science Fiction
394 pages, hardcover
Available now (September 2012)
Publisher: Razorbill
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

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.

It's rare you come across a stand-alone in young adult novels that is also a stand-out amongst all the sappy love stories and mythological creatures that roam the shelves. ORIGIN is just that novel. 

Set deep in the Amazon rainforest, ORIGIN introduces us to Pia, a "perfect" specimen of humanity. She's faster, smarter than pretty much every other human on the planet and has this crazy-thick skin that nothing can break, rendering her practically indestructible...and immortal. She's happily living her insular little life with all her "aunts" and "uncles" teaching her how to be the best scientist she can be. But she knows there's something more out there. Something beyond the electrified fence that protects her from the world. 

And then she gets a very unexpected opportunity in the form of a hole in the fence and she takes it. In the jungle, she runs into Eio and is introduced to a whole world outside her fence.

Pia is a fantastic character with a rich internal life. On one hand, she's intensely curious with an analytical mind but on the other, she just accepts that she lives in this jungle surrounded by scientists and barbed wire and has never seen the outside world. Despite this obvious downfall, Pia is a breath of fresh air with her curiosity and zest for life. Plus, she has a jaguar for a pet. How awesome is that?

Now, Eio and his tribe, the Ai'oan, are a bit cardboard cut-out. TSTL (too stupid to live) at times, Eio plays the big strong man as he rushes electrified fences to "rescue" Pia from her captors. The Ai'oan were merely present as backdrops to the unfolding drama at the lab. Then there was the insta-love...somewhat understandable on Pia's part, considering she's never seen a boy her age before but Eio has no real excuse for it except that she's different.

Despite its imperfections, ORIGIN is a quick and incredibly interesting take on the race to create the perfect human and what happens when that human is a seventeen-year-old girl.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble

23 comments:

  1. I'm definitely interested in this one, just based on the concept. Too bad it's not amazing, but the fun and interesting part sounds like reading it would be a nice way to spend an afternoon.

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    1. It's just amazing enough, though. Definitely check it out, if you get the chance!

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  2. Quick and interesting! I know just the teenager to get this for and I totally love that she is getting into reading. I depend on y'all to tell me the good ones :)

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  3. Woot!! so I should read it after all??? Although I got a copy at BEA I was never really toooo interested in reading it.. but Mary... maybe I should :)?

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    1. I wasn't too sure about it either but I read a couple of reviews that intrigued me so I went for it and liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would!

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    1. Love the cover--different than a lot of others out there.

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  5. I want a jaguar for a pet Mary! Except it would probably try to eat my two dogs and that wouldn't go over well with me. I don't take kindly to things that want to eat my boys:)

    Despite the insta-love and the TSTL moments, I still want to read this one. And now I've been forewarned of those flaws, so hopefully they won't bother me as much! Fantastic review Mary:)

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    1. Yeah, I'd be irritated with the jaguar for devouring my pups, too.

      Surprisingly, the insta-love and TSTL didn't bother me *that* much, I think because I really liked Pia!

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  6. I've been seeing this one everywhere lately. Because of the insta-love and TSTL-ness, I'll probably skip on buying it but I'll keep a lookout for it at my library.

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    1. A perfect library get. I don't think I would have purchased it though I'll probably recommend it to my high school's librarian.

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  7. I'm a little sad to hear about the insta-love, but I'm still really excited to read Origin. Thanks for the review!

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    1. The insta-love is somewhat understandable in this case, mostly because Pia is so sheltered and innocent in the ways of boys. Plus, it's forgivable and not *that* distracting!

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  8. 'Too stupid to olive's Yes! That! I didn't love this one, it sounds like you may have liked it more, but I want a jaguar too!

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    1. Too stupid to live, not olive. Stupid auto correct.

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    2. I was kind of wondering...lol! I really liked Pia and the science-y aspect.

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  9. Sounds like a lot of work went to develop Pia and her world but not as much into the outside world. Still I feel like I would like Pia from how you describe her (also, Pet Jaguars FTW!)

    The book sounds pretty awesome

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    1. The story behind Pia's immortality and the science involved was really intriguing!

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  10. Hm. We've been hearing a LOT of buzz about this. Appreciate your thoughts on it as we weigh whether or not we're interested!

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    1. Give it a shot! While there are parts I could do without, overall it was a good read. If any of you like science, you'll enjoy this one.

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  11. Oh no! I loved Eio and found Pia a bit hard to like--at least initially. I loved the world-building in this one. It was great, and scary and thought-provoking all at the same time.

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  12. I got this at BEA for one of my blog friends so I don't have a copy. I've heard mixed things about it. So far, I don't think anything has made it stand out enough to break my no dystopia rule.

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