Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

by Jessica Khoury

ISBN-13: 9-781595-145956
Publication: September 2012 from Razorbill
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

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 by Jessica Khoury is one of those books that you can’t, and don’t want to, put down. There are so many secrets and questions, you just need to keep reading to find out what’s happening as quick as possible. The suspense until then is crazy.

Pia has grown up in a secret compound (Little Cam) in the middle of the rainforest, the only child amongst a group of scientists. But she’s not a normal teenager – Pia is immortal. And though she thinks she may know the end aims of the scientists who live in the compound, there are secrets to be had and more going on behind closed doors than she ever wanted to know. Pia is such a good character – I was drawn in to her story completely, and though she is at times very naive and unreasonable, this is how she was raised. Pia knows nothing of the outside world until she finds a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam and ventures out into the rainforest for the first time in her seventeen years. Despite how sheltered and rigid her upbringing was, Pia still has a sense of exploration and wonder about her, as well as a wonderful moral compass. And despite some moments where she seems to be caving in to the scientific community that surrounds her, she manages to grow a pair near the end and the results are awesome.

The secondary characters, including Eio (the love interest), are well developed for all that we only see them through Pia’s eyes. And I have to say, this is one book where I didn’t mind the insta-love! Eio IS the only boy Pia’s ever met, after all, and he’s sensitive, daring, kind and intelligent. It makes sense that she’d be enamoured with him, and by reading the book from Pia’s point of view, it’s easy to see why Eio falls for her – she seems to defy everything you would expect of her given her past and predicted future of leader of a group of immortals.

The descriptions of the rainforest are absolutely beautiful, and I really enjoyed the details of the local tribe that Eio belongs to and the daily activities within Little Cam. Pia’s whole journey through questioning everything she has ever known is so well played out and thoughtful, and though you can kind of guess some of the big secrets hiding at Little Cam, the truth at the end is still shocking. While the science behind Pia’s immortality is interesting, I wasn’t surprised to see that Jessica Khoury threw a little bit of the magical and mystical into her explanations for certain things rather than rely completely on a scientific explanation.

Origin by Jessica Khoury is a wholly original debut that will keep readers glued to the pages. While I wasn’t, and still am not, sure WHY the scientists at Little Cam and the corporation they work for want to create immortals since they themselves cannot become immortal (unless they hope to find a way…?), I was still drawn into Pia’s story; her ventures into love and life, and the mysteries behind Little Cam and her creation are completely entertaining and at times heartbreaking. Origin is definitely worth picking up, and I can’t wait to see what Jessica Khoury comes out with next!

ARC picked up at Book Expo America from Penguin/Razorbill. Thank you!