Review: Origin

Author: Jessica Khoury
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 394 (ARC)
Source: ARCycling

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.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

 While this book didn't quite live up to my expectations, the originality that Khoury put forth to create such a tale is something that I highly respect. The entire book questions morality and causes one to think about many ethical questions and issues. Is it okay to kill someone now if it will benefit the greater good of society in the future? Why can some people do such a thing so easily while others are held back by the immoral act? Is immortality really worth it? To put it simply, this book made me think, and it's one of the reasons that I really enjoyed it.

Khoury introduces us to Pia, a girl who has grown up in a glass house in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, clueless to the outside world. All she knows is that she lives in a village of sorts filled with scientists working to discover ways to make more people like her--immortals. She is the reason they are there, she is the future, she is perfect. While following her dream to become a leading scientist on the Immortis team that is working to create a Mr. Perfect for her, she realizes some horrifying truths about her creation and the plan that Corpus has for her future. She'll never be the same.

I think that Pia was written well, but her character was incredibly naive. Such a thing is required in the story, though, because she's supposed to have knowledge of absolutely nothing besides what the scientists in Little Cam have told her. If she learns about anything in the outside world and asks about it, she is immediately scolded and monitored vigilantly until she lets the subject go. She was made to be naive and follow orders, so we can't hold it against her, but with her naivety came incredibly frustrating moments. She would want one thing while her naive little mind would want something else. It caused her to play mind games with a lot of the characters, specifically Eio, and as I read more and more her inability to make up her mind began to frustrate me. I could accept her naivety as something essential to her character growth, but her constant indecision and tendency to flip-flop between options felt like it was simply there to further the progression of the book.

I enjoyed Eio's characterization more than Pia, and that's saying something since we experience the book through Pia. Eio was certain in everything he did. He cared for Pia and he accepted that. He didn't play games with her and instead allowed her to play games with him because he so desperately wanted her in his life. Granted, his dialogue in the beginning of the book was cheesy and something out of a bad 80's movie. Thankfully, it got better as the book went on. He was incredibly strong as a love interest and kept me reading the many times that Pia frustrated me.

The plot progression of this book was good, but it picked up in the last fifth of the book. In all honesty, the last fifth is what earned this book an extra half star. It was full of action, flowed beautifully, and kept me on my toes. It's a great way to go out with a bang, but the rest of the book didn't live up to the ending. It was just average. There was so much potential, but it just wasn't fleshed out properly. We were never fully informed about anything. More often than not I was hoping to learn more about specific things in the book, but instead I was left hanging. And then there were times where Khoury gave us too much detail. Spoiler alert, but the moment when Ami, Pia, and Eio alternately dealt with the huge anaconda at the waterfall, I felt as if I was watching a bad fight scene in a high school play because I was so over informed that I simply didn't care anymore. I wish she gave that much attention to detail when describing more about what went on at camp than anything else.

All in all, this was a decent debut novel. It definitely compels me to check out other future novels by Khoury, but I won't go in with my hopes as high. If you're looking for a book that will make you think about the thin line that separates ethics and doing what needs to be done for the greater good, this book is for you. It makes you think and realize what it truly means to be human.

It also makes you realize how badly you want a kickass pet jaguar named Alai to rescue you from anybody annoying that gets in your way.

3.5 stars



  1. I totally agree about a character's naivity! When I read Eve (by Anna Carey I loved how naive and innocent the MC was...but boy did she piss me off at times!

    Thanks for your honest review!

    Oh and I've wanted a big cat ever since Aladdin! :)

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  2. I was really excited for this one, that's too bad that it didn't quite live up to expectations. Sounds like it has some redeeming qualities though, so I'll be sure to still check it out! :)

  3. I'm sorry it didn't live up to your expectations. I'm looking forward to reading this one when I get the chance. It sounds really unique, though a naive character usually brings it down for me too.

  4. It sounds like a creative story, it is always to bad when the description is better than the book

  5. I got a copy of an ARC of this book it sounds good definitely gonna give it a try! I tend to like naive characters lol!

  6. I haven't read this yet but have it to read. Great review I want to see about a pet jaguar now. i may have to move it up some.

  7. I've been dying to read Origin for a while, so while I'm slightly more doubtful about the book, I'm glad for your honest review. I'll just have to check it out to see for myself.

    Lust For Stories

  8. Nice review. I might have to add this to my TBR list.