I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Origin by Jessica Khoury
Series: Corpus #1
Published by Razorbill Books on September 4th 2012
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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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.
There are a lot of things I expected from Origin. Mystery, a jungle backdrop and even a bit of romance. But, wow. I did not expect to be grabbing the edge of my seat, turning page after page in anticipation. However, this novel is not for the faint of heart due to a few shocking scenes. But carefully placed gentler moments are woven in with the call of the jungle. Between the bitter-sweet blossom of first love and the nail-biting storyline, I was robbed of precious sleep… I was captivated.
Pia, our main character, is immortal. She was created and raised by a group of scientist with the intent to create a new human race at any cost. Nothing can pierce her skin. She has heightened hearing, sight, smell and speed. At first glance it may seem like she’s just going to turn out to be your run of the mill Mary Sue, but Pia has her weakness, normal strength and endurance along with her stubbornness that at times really frustrated me, but I enjoyed seeing her grow. She lives a very sheltered life because she has never left Little Cam and she is curious about the outside world. Unfortunately, the scientist never allow her to know anything about the world. She’s never seen a map, TV, Internet, heard music, etc. She’s been told that all those things are a distraction from her destiny: To create even more immortals like her for the betterment of the human race. And for a time she believes them until one day an opportunity presents itself, she explores the jungle and meets Eio, who makes her completely question everything she has been taught.
Speaking of Eio, when we are first introduced to him he immediately reminded me of someone. Remember Mimi-Siku, A.K.A. “Cat Piss”, from Jungle 2 Jungle?
Eio, the love interest, jungle boy, half Ai’oan. He’s honest and kind. And unlike Pia, he sees the danger of Little Cam and urges her to abandon the facility. Even when she resists over and over, determined to remain there, he doesn’t abandon her. He shows her things she’s never seen, things that don’t fit into her perceived perfect, scientific ideals. And while he does make a statement early on that could be seen as misogynistic (telling Pia she needed a big strong man to walk her through the jungle), to me it felt more like him trying to make a good impression and be chivalrous. He’s from a culture that is virtually cut off from modern society (Little Cambridge excluded), so the intention of the statement never felt insulting. I could always tell he truly cared about her. Every time Eio spoke to Pia, I could hear Mimi’s voice in my head. I could just picture his raw, honest facial expressions behind every sentence. They were so simple, but so much emotion was packed into it.
“I will climb that fence, if you ask it of me, and I will bring you out.”
This was an interesting reading journey for me because Origin technically has a big thing that I usually hate in books: Insta-love. I can only remember one other book where it didn’t bother me and that was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Tayler, which I LOVED. Books like these really affirm my belief that there isn’t necessarily anything *wrong* with a story that features fast building love as long as the relationship is believable to the reader. For me it was. Even though the book does take place in perhaps a little over a week, it felt much longer than that. Pia and Eio meet in a very unique circumstance so it’s hard to compare their courtship to, say, Patch and Nora of Hush, Hush. -_- Because unlike other YA couples, I felt that Eio and Pia really loved each other.
I think a big part of me believing in the romance was due to Khoury’s prose. The scenes between Pia and Eio were delicately crafted and I’m a sucker for pretty prose. It wasn’t the dreaded purple prose. It was simple and its subtlety in the heat of the moment had me feeling some kinda way.
I think of my eternal people. Of brothers and sisters and friends who will never die. An immortal family, untouched by pain and death, knowing only life and love and beauty. I try to imagine it, try to see their faces in my mind… but all I see is a blue-eyed boy sitting by the river, giving me the stars.
It was like watching Mimi-Siku giving Karen the pot. *wipes tear*
The beginning of Origin definitely sets the tone for the rest of the book and if the first scene bothers you, chances are this book will not be for you. There are a few animal testing scenes where animals are harmed. But the general tone of the MC and book was that this was frowned upon so it wasn’t endorsed. But since Pia lives in that kind of environment where the scientist are looking for immortality, it makes sense that they would have animal test subjects. Pia hated that they ran those tests on animals and never wanted to be apart of it. Nevertheless, it is there and it is disturbing.
I love when I can tell that an author has done their homework and Khoury did just that. The Amazonian rainforest is well-developed and vivid. You can see the detail used especially when plants and insects are described. At one point I had to google one of the insects mention, the titan beetle (don’t click the link if you are squeamish), and then I was like:
*shudders* I’ll never look at a beetle the same way again.
By the end of Origin I realized something about myself. I often complain and complain about how standalones are almost non-existent in YA Land, but this time I actually found myself wishing it was a series. The jungle was done with me, but I wasn’t done with the jungle. So if you are looking for a Sci-Fi type mystery, I’d say give Origin a try. It just might surprise you.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you, Razorbill!