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Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury

Origin is a YA dark sci-fi novel that features a girl named Pia, the first member of a race of immortal, “perfect” beings.  For the last 16 years of her life, she’s lived in a secret lab hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest with a team of scientists, never once venturing outside the compound—until the night of her 17th birthday, when she discovers a hole in the electric fence and sneaks out into the rainforest. But Pia’s world begins to collapse around her from the moment she crashes into a boy named Eio that same night…because the truth about her immortality--her origin--is being unraveled with each step she takes closer to him, his village, and the legacy of those in the generations before her.  

I’ve found that most people who’ve reviewed Origin are passionate about the novel—they seemingly either ‘absolutely’ love it, or ‘absolutely’ hate it. Because I am just compelled to be different from those around me (I’m only being somewhat facetious about this), I must say that ‘absolutely’ love it…but that there are a few details that I *might* rant about if given the opportunity.  

Semi-facetiousness aside, I found much of Khoury’s work immensely enjoyable; the quality of her prose/dialogue is excellent enough to merit a must-read recommendation on its own, the ingenuity of Pia and Little Cam and Elysia is striking, and the questions raised by the actions of all involved in the dark sci/fi/fantasy thriller (I say thriller because the pacing is so ridiculously well done it’s like reading a thriller) last well beyond the final pages. I highly  recommend Origin for all of these reasons and more.

Read this one line and tell me this isn’t fantastic: “I stare at it as my heart tumbles over itself and my tongue turns into stone,” (87).  

Plus…it’s set in the R-a-i-n-f-o-r-e-s-t people!!!

So, what didn’t I swoon over in Origin?

In a word, Pia. I loved the idea  of Pia. Ok, I still  love the idea of Pia. But I found the specific details about her immortality confusing and even a bit contradictory at times. For example, it confused me when Pia told me that she can’t suffocate, but she was still somewhat afraid of drowning and wasn’t sure if she *could* drown. Maybe this is just a poor reflection on me, but I honestly thought that suffocation and drowning were the same thing…or so close to being the same thing the difference would be moot for Pia.

In another word, the Ai’oans (erm, the villagers). Granted, Origin takes place in a super-fast time frame—like a week—and it would’ve been difficult for Khoury to do a whole lot more fleshing out here, but I think it would’ve been better if the people group was explored  and fleshed out a bit more.

Other than that, Origin is superb. It’s thought-provoking, passionate, and largely unpredictable.
I’d give Origin 5 stars.

If you haven’t read Origin, you should ^_^.

Also, keep an eye out for Vitro, which is a companion novel to Origin that will be out January 14, 2014.  

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