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.