Posts tagged sci-fi
Origin by Jessica Khoury

Release Date: September 4, 2012

Publisher: Razorbill

Format: ARC

Source: BookExpo America

Origin

"ORIGIN is a startling mystery played out in the vivid and lush Amazon jungle. In this deadly clash of science and nature, a heroine emerges. Pia clawed her way through the pages and left her mark on the landscape of my imagination as the almost tangible danger left me breathless."--Colleen Houck, New York Times bestselling author of Tiger's Curse"I loved Origin's action, romance, and mystery--and I couldn't stop thinking about the questions it raised." --Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the UniverseAn electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragicPia 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.

Review:

The emotions and evocative descriptions of this book make it a true standout. It is beautifully written with a riveting plot, a book that I literally could not tear my eyes away from for even a minute. I literally fell asleep with the light on at three A.M. in the middle of reading it because I didn't want to put it down to sleep.

Pia was a very interesting character. She's been told that she is "perfect" for her entire life. A part of her is lonely and confused. Another part of her is haughty and believes that she's perfect. It was interesting to see how these sides of her interacted and how her curiosity about the outside world impacted her as a character. Pia was one of those characters that I honestly feel could have been real. Her emotions and thought processes were very realistic and left me wishing that less would happen to her. She just went through so much and although she developed throughout all of this, I found myself wishing that she didn't have to go through so much. Not only is she confused about where she came from and what she would do when everybody from Little Cam died, but she has to make really hard decisions. She has to choose between actually living her life and finding out the secret to immortality.

The main concept of the book involved a girl (Pia) who is immortal. After generations, scientists hidden deep in the jungle have created an immortal girl. Pia has been in the compound for her entire life - she doesn't know the outside world. Needles can't pierce her skin, she doesn't get sick, and her family of scientists will die out among her while she stays ageless.

The description was the number one thing for me though. I could really read a book that is entirely description if it were written by Jessica Khoury. I don't even care that much about the plot or the characters or any of that because the description was so gorgeous and stunning and vibrant.

There is a reason that this is a breathless read because it did leave me breathless. The action was perfectly plotted and paced and left me unwilling to put the book down. I wished I would read faster (although I read plenty fast) because I just wanted to know what happened!

The romance in this book was really realistic although I wouldn't quite call it "love". Pia and Eio didn't really know each other but they were attracted to each other and had a connection. It was both a mixture of heart-pounding romantic tension and getting to know each other like best friends. Although they only knew each other for (a week?), I would say that I felt satisfied with it. I wouldn't really classify it as insta-love but they were really attracted to each other and helped each other through a lot.

Intriguing questions dealing with morals were dealt with throughout the book. It was very thoughtful, which is hard to do considering the amount of action, mystery, romance, and tension constantly pulsing through the pages. There are a lot of books that deal with the theme of how far you would go to get something you want and Jessica Khoury brought a fresh perspective to this. Pia was almost treated like a tool. They didn't see her as a person; they saw her as a genetically engineered goddess and I found that utterly fascinating.

Origin was one of those books that just completely floored me. It had so many intertwining elements of romance, mystery, fear, and emotion that all blended together perfectly and made for a truly satisfying and thought-provoking read. It was strange and incredible and such a surreal experience. I was immersed in this book from page one to the end and even then, my mind was still in the story. I thought of this book for ages after I finished and it kept me up long after I should have been sleeping. Wow.

Extended Review:

Throughout the book, Pia almost reminded me of the vampires from the Twilight series. The hard, unbreakable skin, strange properties, speed, and enhanced senses gave me that vibe. The immortality storyline was extremely well done and Jessica Khoury made it both easy to understand and complex enough to be different.

I was just transported to an entirely different world with this book. It was so enthralling and compelling and just completely sucked me in. It's one of those books with a completely unique feel - one that I doubt anybody will be able to capture again. The description, the plot, the supporting characters, character development...I honestly don't think that I can come up with a flaw for this one.

This is one of those books that I just put down and bawled. I hate it when books end and this was a vivid story that I didn't want to lose. It had such an ENDING - one that really tugged at my heart strings. Oh my goodness. Wow. Really, it was THAT good.

Pia's character develops constantly throughout the book. She feels like nobody truly sees her and none of the other scientists will ever understand what it's like to be her but she's also used to getting almost everything that she wants. She gives up privacy and freedom involuntarily, but she's also used to being practically worshipped. She clings to any knowledge that she has about the outside world and is completely thirsty for knowledge about the world. She's cooped up all the time and kept in the dark about her origin. She wants to know where she came from and why she exists but while she does know a ton, she's also kept in the dark about everything that really means anything to her.

There was an entire culture to this book. There was a culture for Little Cam, a culture for the tribe outside, so many varying people and ideas and morals. It made it such a truly engaging and complex read. There were many philosophical ideas behind Origin but it did not preach at ALL. I could read at a deeper level but there was also swoonworthy romance, a dark mystery, action, and plenty of other elements that really appealed to me. This book just...wow.

There were so many characters that contributed to this book. Uncle Anthony, Eio, the doctors, the tribe. Oh my gosh - I was captivated. There were so many blurs between black and white. Was somebody with a good heart and confused morals still a good person? Did somebody who knew the consequences of his actions but still went through with something still deserve Pia's sympathy? Were some secrets better left unknown?

There was this balance between Pia's curiosity and her desire to be a scientist. She was put through a series of tests to determine her worth as a scientist. She longed to have somebody else like her in the world and sometimes felt completely alone in the world. She was born and raised in Little Cam so when she had the opportunity to slip out, of course she took it. Her emotions and tangled thoughts were such a joy to experience. Perhaps joy isn't the right word for it because she also experienced grief, anger, confusion, and a range of other emotions. Coming to terms with who she was and what her history was just left me grieving for her and what she had to go through.

This is one of those books that keeps me up at night and makes me want to go out and experience the world. It provoked the most intense wanderlust. It deals with a part of the world that isn't mentioned in that many books and her incredible description - from describing the little things like the sounds and rain and individual species scattered throughout the book - just left me longing to visit the inside of this book. Jessica Khoury does such an excellent job of coaxing out the little things that really bring a setting to life and make it memorable. Pretty much any story that she could have placed here would have been a ht for me. Especially when the tribe comes into play...I was riveted.

All these words that I keep using - "captivated", "enthralled", "riveted" - do no justice to the book. I'm struggling to find the right words to describe my absolute DEVOTION to this book and to the setting and the tension and everything that just tore me apart in this book.

The immortality aspect was done so well and so cleverly. There's a secret behind Pia's immortality that she's been dying to find out so that she could begin to create more immortals. What Pia doesn't realize is that there's another more sinister reason for the secret of immortality. Things that the scientists have done that would shock her and make her wonder whether immortality was truly worth it. The plot twists involving this aspect of the book were so wonderfully created. The ending was intense and fast and just paced perfectly. There were just enough betrayals and tears to break my heart and the tension and passion between Pia and Eio were what I've been dreaming of reading. Think the romance in The Vampire Diaries (TV show) but amped up and placed in a disturbing and beautiful setting.

Little Cam was extremely unsettling. The scientists' ideas of right and wrong were sometimes taken to extreme and morals were ignored. Ethics were questioned many times throughout this book and some people just left me horrified. There were some characters that I was honestly TERRIFIED of and just left me sympathizing with Pia once again. She was both hardened and extremely vulnerable. She wanted to see the world and her immortality wasn't even that much of a gift. Her mom was a nightmare and her "family" of scientists didn't even see her. They were more absorbed with their various projects and didn't realize how scared that she was of her future.

As for the ending, let me just say that Jessica Khoury is not afraid to take risks. Her scientists become more and more confused in Pia's mind towards the end and several are sinister. The pure passion and intensity left me feeling like I was a character. This was where her writing really made it an experience. She isn't afraid to kill off characters or essentially torture Pia and I absolutely loved it. I want a book that will destroy me like this one did.

Making this a stand-alone was such a great decision. While series are wonderful and it means that I don't have to come out of the world for at least a little while longer, Origin had the world in it. It contained the emotions and confusion and morals of a teenage girl, the chilling ideas of a scientist, a tangled mystery, and romance that left me wishing for my own Eio. The description and every single part of this book just left me flipping pages until I finished. I refused to put it down and separate myself from this book, no, EXPERIENCE that left me so shaken and filled. It was such an intense and gorgeous book and dealt with so much. I can't recommend this book enough.

Recommended to anybody who loves: The Vampire Diaries (TV show); Eve and Adam; blurred morals; The GiverAirheadHarbinger; Shiver series; etc,.

Book club questions to come later.

REPOST: Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Clair

Release Date: July 10, 2012Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young ReadersFormat: ARCSource: InkwoodParental Warnings: mild substances; mild sexual references

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she’s Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she’s the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.  In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she’s got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she’s ever seen.But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.So when she’s offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?The choice isn’t as simple as you think.

My sister picked this out. I had seen it before, but I didn’t really want to read it. She begged me to let her read it and she’d review it, but in the end, I decided to review it too.It looked like fluff to me, although I had seen it in one of Kristi‘s “Books to Pine For” posts. I was experienced with reading about parallel universes, but in a completely different fashion. Before this book, I had only been reading The 13th Reality series by James Dashner, which is one of my favorite books. I’m a huge fan of the way that Dashner pulls this off and I even enjoyed Julie Cross’s version in Tempest, which I read after this.It wasn’t fluffy. Okay, it was a bit. It was cute and adorable and fluffy, but it had heart and content. It was sweet and complex and much better than I thought it would be. The intricacy of the relationships and the ugliness behind the glamour was intriguing to say the least and would definitely draw me if I had known that the book contained this.The good part about this read was that it was very quick. I read it in one sitting. At first my sister was planning on reading it because she picked it out, but I decided to kidnap it for a few hours. It read easily and didn’t require a huge amount of thought. It was engaging but still easy to relax into.The plot has been overused many times, but even though it seems like it would be tiring, it somehow still worked. It seemed like the typical story for me. One of the things that usually happens in “books like these” is the nerdy girl wants to be the popular girl. She then becomes popular girl – gorgeous, happy, caught up in the parties and glamour of being one of the in crowd – and ends up discovering that everything is much worse in reality. The sparkles on the surface make way for darkness underneath.It’s about the same for Annie/Ayla. Annie was always a geek, or an “Invisible”, wanting more than anything to be popular. It seemed like they had everything, all the guys, the best clothes, pretty much everything.A lot of this book hinged on the idea to be careful what you wish for. In most books like these, it turns out that popularity isn’t all that and there is a lot of ugliness behind the prettiness. While this is standard fare for YA, it wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be.In all books like these, there is the makeover scene. The one where the girl wakes up or looks in the mirror and she is a completely different person. She touches her face, runs her fingers through her hair, looks around her to see if a fairy godmother is in the corner of the room because no way can this be her.Although my personal favorite makeover scene is from The Squad: Perfect Cover by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, this one came pretty close. It was similar to others, but interesting. At first I found myself the tiniest bit bored because I was praying that it wouldn’t be stereotypical “geeky girl to hottie” but it actually kind of worked in this one. At least I didn’t think that Annie was that bad at first. She was just an average nice girl, but some people just want to be popular. They want to have what they don’t have, but not in a greedy way. Annie was likable, but she wanted to be one of the popular kids.I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed the science of it. I think that when I am older I would like to study quantum physics just because I find the concept fascinating. While the best explanation is by far in The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner, Roxanne St. Clair did a fine job of explaining the basics and expanding the theory to fit the situations in her novel.It was smart, but written easily enough where the average person could pick it up in a heartbeat.I really enjoyed the supporting characters. Annie’s friends and Ayla’s friends definitely helped the plot move along and created twists that I didn’t see coming. They weren’t a huge part of the book but they stimulated Annie’s character development and moved the plot along. There were several that I absolutely loved!One thing that I enjoyed about this book was how her parents played a role in it. Recently in YA people have been noticing a trend in which the parents are absent or don’t impact the character development or plot. Annie is originally worried about her parent’s relationship because her father is a bit of a crazy inventor and her mother is regretting her life decisions. She’s worried that they may be falling out of love and her mother is wishing that she had married somebody else.When she is Ayla, her parent’s relationship is no better. Her mother almost never sees her father and they don’t seem as happy, although this time it isn’t about her father’s crazy inventing. In fact, she doesn’t have the same father. She has a rich and selfish father who is a famous plastic surgeon in Miami.Annie’s friends as Ayla were bad influences and I was proud of her for recognizing that. From shoplifting to doing drugs, they were the type of negative people that you wouldn’t want to surround yourself with. They were mean to each other and selfish, and although this type of behavior is usually portrayed in similar books, it wasn’t stereotypical.The romance in this book was more like a friendship than a relationship, which I love. My older sister has had a few boyfriends and their relationships have been like that. In my stories, I want it to be like that. A boyfriend should be romantic, but also like a best friend. It definitely worked out in this way in Don’t You Wish which was one of my highlights of the book.Charlie was the love interest. The one who all the popular kids warned Annie to stay away from. He was poor and was to be avoided at all costs. Annie is attracted to him, but she’s worried that it might come down to popularity or him. Charlie was so sweet. He was the type of nice-guy in YA that I would love to see more of. He was nice, smart, and funny. He was like the guy that you would be with in real life, and I loved the scenes with him in there.There’s a bit of tragedy in there towards the end when I was worried about Charlie and Annie/Ayla. It was the perfect bit of romantic tension that is needed for any romance story to work out.The 13th Reality series is one that I kept making comparisons to because of the similar focus on quantum physics and parallel universes. While they were completely different (one being a clever and fantastical MG with a darker focus while the other is a heartwarming YA with an in-depth focus on popularity), I still found myself enjoying the comparisons. The 13th Reality is still funny, but darker because it relates to the end of the world. It’s intense and incredible. Don’t You Wish is character-driven, not plot driven, but it’s still as unputdownable as the former.Annie is convinced that she has a horrible life, and that’s okay sometimes. I don’t think she would have been so upset if her mother wasn’t upset with the life her father gave her and wondering what would have happened if she had married her rich ex-boyfriend instead. That provoked the question that started it in Annie’s mind: what would happen if she were the daughter of her mother and her high school sweetheart?Ayla seems to have a fabulous life. She has all the right clothes, the hottest guys in school pining over her, an incredible boyfriend, a sprawling mansion, and everything that she could ever want. She isn’t one of the popular kids that Annie wants to be; she is THE popular kid. She’s that girl that everybody wants to be.There is a darker side. Annie/Ayla finds herself surprised by the drugs, shoplifting, cattiness, and secrets of the inner circle. Popularity isn’t what she thought that it would be. Her friends are mean to her and pressure her into doing things that she doesn’t want to do and her boyfriend is pressuring her to lose her virginity. Everything that Annie thought that popularity would be like is slipping away from her.The ending was definitely predictable. It reminded me of almost every other book with a similar plotline. My favorite part about the ending was definitely a scene at the end. It was wrapped up nicely and easily, but realistically as well. I personally suck at writing endings, so I’m envious of writers who make it look effortless.Annie was relatable. Almost everybody feels unwanted or lonely at some point or another. She didn’t have an awful life, but she was still unhappy by her lack of money and how she didn’t fit in with the people at her school. She had put all her hope that if she were one day one of the popular kids, everything would change. She would feel loved and beautiful, and have the perfect life, so it was something that she dreamed about. For such a used plotline, the characterization made it shine. Annie was relatable, but still fresh enough to keep me entertained and interested in her character development.She was also smart. Her funny ways of looking at the world were entertaining and clear. After her crush humiliated her in front of the entire school, Annie is convinced that she needs a new life to be happy. When she becomes Ayla, she discovers how similar her life is, even with all the glitz and glamour. Ayla still has issues: problems with friends, with her parents, with self-discovery. Annie and Ayla are more alike than they thought, the only difference being that one has Gucci bags.The book overall was heartwarming and more complex that I thought it would be, even though it used a familiar plot. The characters were developed and while the ending was predictable, it was more surprising than I thought it would be. I will definitely recommend this to several of my friends and I was satisfied with the ending. The romance, character development, and writing was wonderful.Recommended for anybody who loves: Tempest; Before I Fall; Love Story; Anna and the French Kiss; etc,.Possible book club questions:Would you change your life for popularity?How do you think you would be different if you woke up like Annie, in your dream life?How did her parent’s relationships influence Annie/Ayla (in both lives)? etc,.