An electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragic.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.
Pia, our main character, is immortal. She was created and raised by a group of scientist with the intent to create a new human race at any cost. Nothing can pierce her skin. She has heightened hearing, sight, smell and speed. At first glance it may seem like she's just going to turn out to be your run of the mill Mary Sue, but Pia has her weakness, normal strength and endurance along with her stubbornness that at times really frustrated me, but I enjoyed seeing her grow. She lives a very sheltered life because she has never left Little Cam and she is curious about the outside world. Unfortunately, the scientist never allow her to know anything about the world. She's never seen a map, TV, Internet, heard music, etc. She's been told that all those things are a distraction from her destiny: To create even more immortals like her for the betterment of the human race. And for a time she believes them until one day an opportunity presents itself, she explores the jungle and meets Eio, who makes her completely question everything she has been taught.
Speaking of Eio, when we are first introduced to him he immediately reminded me of someone. Remember Mimi-Siku from Jungle 2 Jungle? Eio, the love interest, jungle boy, half Ai'oan. He's honest and kind. And unlike Pia, he sees the danger of Little Cam and urges her to abandon the facility. Even when she resists over and over, determined to remain there, he doesn't abandon her. He shows her things she's never seen, things that don't fit into her perceived perfect, scientific ideals. And while he does make a statement early on that could be seen as misogynistic (telling Pia she needed a big strong man to walk her through the jungle), to me it felt more like him trying to make a good impression and be chivalrous. He's from a culture that is virtually cut off from modern society (Little Cambridge excluded), so the intention of the statement never felt insulting. I could always tell he truly cared about her. Every time Eio spoke to Pia, I could hear Mimi's voice in my head. I could just picture his raw, honest facial expressions behind every sentence. They were so simple, but so much emotion was packed into it.
Quote: "I will climb that fence, if you ask it of me, and I will bring you out."
This was an interesting reading journey for me because Origin technically has a big thing that usually doesn't mesh well with me in books: Insta-love. I can only remember one other book where it didn't bother me and that was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Tayler, which I LOVED. Books like these really affirm my belief that there isn't necessarily anything *wrong* with a story that features fast building love as long as the relationship is believable to the reader. For me, it was. Even though the book does take place in, perhaps, a little over a week, it felt much longer than that. Pia and Eio meet in a very unique circumstance so it's hard to compare their courtship to others. I felt that Eio and Pia really loved each other.
A big part of me believing in the romance was due to Khoury's prose. The scenes between Pia and Eio were delicately crafted and I'm a sucker for pretty prose. It wasn't the dreaded purple prose. It was simple and its subtlety in the heat of the moment had me feeling some kinda way.
Quote: "I think of my eternal people. Of brothers and sisters and friends who will never die. An immortal family, untouched by pain and death, knowing only life and love and beauty. I try to imagine it, try to see their faces in my mind... but all I see is a blue-eyed boy sitting by the river, giving me the stars."
It was like watching Mimi-Siku giving Karen the pot. *wipes tear*
The beginning of Origin definitely sets the tone for the rest of the book and if the first scene bothers you, chances are this book might not be for you. There are a few animal testing scenes where animals are harmed. But the general tone of the MC and book was that this was frowned upon so it wasn't endorsed. But since Pia lives in that kind of environment where the scientist are looking for immortality, it makes sense that they would have animal test subjects. Pia hated that they ran those tests on animals and never wanted to be apart of it. Nevertheless, it is there and it could be disturbing for some readers.
I love when I can tell that an author has done their homework and Khoury did just that. The Amazonian rain forest is well-developed and vivid. You can see the detail used especially when plants and insects are described. At one point I had to google one of the insects mention, the titan beetle. *shudders* I'll never look at a beetle the same way again.
Final Verdict: By the end of Origin I realized something about myself. I often complain and complain about how standalones are almost non-existent in YA Land, but this time I actually found myself wishing it was a series. The jungle was done with me, but I wasn't done with the jungle. So if you are looking for a Sci-Fi type mystery, I'd say give Origin a try. It just might surprise you.
The book questions the power and importance of immortality as Pia and Eio search for the truth behind Pia's origin. Khoury balances the intrigue and romance perfectly. One does not outshine the other, making this a book that could appeal to both male and female readers.
Origin will keep any reader hooked. Definitely a must a must read for the fall. Great for both younger readers and adults!
This is a beautifully written futuristic YA that brings up the whole question: What would you do to achieve immortality? How far would you go?
Pia is an immortal seventeen year old. She's sheltered from the rest of the world somewhere deep in the Amazon rain forest. I almost sense that the scientists there consider her kind of like a pet. She's special and they promise her that she'll become like a god and have her own kind. But she has to wait. During a storm, a hole appears in the electrical fence. Curious, she ventures out and encounters Eio, a very cute native. Emotions swept through her driving her to be around Eio even through the rational part of her warns her against it. She calls this her 'wild' Pia. She knows she should ignore the promptings to continue meeting in secret with Eio but she can't.
I was hooked right at the beginning. Though I have to admit the whole test with the poor bird at first kind of turned me off but then I realized how symbolic it was. Pia lives in a building that is made of glass. Just like the bird she can see outside but she can't escape. Little does she know that that test will lead up to many more harder ones that will test her own humanity.
I love forbidden romances and ORIGIN doesn't disappoint! The chemistry between Eio is intense and magnetic. I believed that she'd feel a sudden overwhelming attraction to this stranger. Eio shows her a whole different world within the jungle. Pia is drawn to this forbidden way of life while struggling to make sense of it all.
I loved how Khoury shows how Pia's so-called perfect world shatters with the revelations that happen around Eio's appearance. Little flaws appear that are hard to ignore. Each one has Pia look at her world in a different way.
Add to that the mystery behind Pia. What is the secret the scientists are hiding from her? And why is she the key to creating a whole new race of immortals?
Pia has to make some very hard choices in order to achieve what she feels is her purpose in life. The scientists around her aren't all the cliche 'mad' scientists. Harriet helps Pia with her own deception when she arrives to Little Cam. All have their own secrets.
There's a lot to love about this futuristic tale that is so much more than just another cloning story. I can tell the author did her research. The jungle setting is lush. Pia goes on her own heroine's journey and the denoucement at the end is very satisfying.
Set in the lush Amazon, this story is guaranteed to have you pondering it's message of the tough costs of immortality with characters you want to stay with. Add a touch of forbidden love. What's not to love?
2. Great chemistry between Pia and Eio which hints at a forbidden romance
3. Great world building
My favourite character in the book was probably Ami, even though she wasn't a main character. She was independent, and really nice. I also liked Dr Harriet, because she was nice, willing, not brainwashed, and she taught Pia how to be free.
Pia was a goo heroine in all, but she was a bit stuck-up (and being told she was perfect all the time didn't help). Like, when she first met Eio, she kept feeling the need to remind him that she was perfect. Although she did get more accepting as the book progressed. I didn't really feel all that much for Eio. I mean, I'm glad that the romance isn't overwhelming the book, but we didn't really see much of him, he was just "that cute guy" for a lot of the book, and I didn't see the point of some of his choices.
I also think that Jessica needs more description. I mean, all I can clearly picture is the field of elysias, and the fence. There was barely any description of what Little Cam looked like, and although I appreciate authors not having two-or three page descriptions describing every inch of the room (*cough*Eragon*cough*), I would have liked at least SOMETHING telling us what we were supposed to be imagining.
I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending. (SPOILER ALERT) Is Pia going to die or live forever, just being able to bleed? What happened to Dr Harriet after that? Did Pia ever get to see the outside world? (END SPOILER) and so on. So many questions...
Other than those things, the action and the plot was perfect. I was just swept up into this story. I definitely recommend it.
The other immortality books that I have read are either about gods and goddesses, or about humanity trying to discover it, but Origin is different because Pia was born into it, and it wasn't her fault to have it in the first place. SPOILER. And at the end of the book, she fights to get rid of it, something I have never encountered before.
The characters in the story were great, but you could see that there was something fishy about them from the very beginning. Pia was a good heroine, and she was written in the way that was exactly like her upbringing, caged and brainwashed. Pia was a bit snotty, and being told that she was perfect all the time didn't really help. Although she become less stuck-up, some of her snobbishness lingered throughout the entire book. I really didn't feel anything about Eio, he seemed nice, but we never really got to see him much, and he was just that guy in the forest for most of the book, nothing really happened. Although I was happy the love didn't overwhelm the story, I think there was a bit to little. If Pia had more love to fight for, she would of been a stronger character. The one other important character in the story was Dr. Harriet. She was great, even though she hardly knew Pia, she was nice, willing, and taught Pia how to be free.
I think there was too little description in the story. There was barely anything about the inside of Little Cam, other than the horrors of what was going in it's depths. The rainforest had a bit more, but not much. We only ever got to see vague details about what it looked like, a good description has all the senses in it, not just one.
Origin is a great book about immortality, one very different to a lot of other ones. The characters are brilliant, and the plot is just perfect. This book teaches us about freedom, and what it is to being truly human.
Immortality isn't as controversial of a subject as some others are, mainly because it's basically impossible right now. Everyone's been trying ways to make themselves look younger for a longer period of time, or lengthen their life expectancy, but to live forever is something that scientists have only found in one peculiar species of animals. Anyways, the way Jessica Khoury incorporated the setting into her idea was very smart. It's no secret that the Amazon holds countless secrets, so there could very well be the key to cheating death inn the middle of the vast jungle.
However, as much as I admire Khoury's incorporation of the Amazon, I can't help but feel that it was a bit lacking in the world-building department. I want to see, hear, smell, feel, taste the Amazon, and even Little Cam, the research lab. Khoury did do a pretty okay job in the jungle bit, but I didn't fully feel immersed in Pia's world.
Some improvement that could be made? The plot. Things fell really tidily into place, I mean like, really? A hole in the fence right on her seventeenth birthday? How very convenient. As well, lots of things moved a bit too fast, like Pia and Eio's relationship, and Pia's character development. Linger on the details, make it subtle and fleeting. Draw it out. Wreak havoc upon my emotions, please.
As for the characters, they truly weren't bad. Pia did come off as a bit rude from time to time, but I want to cut her some slack because she genuinely didn't have the sort of upbringing that'd allow her to learn the sort of interaction that we use in our world. That sort of skill was perceived as next to useless at Little Cam. Nevertheless, I found Pia's narrative quite refreshing, and new, because of the environment she grew up in. However, I felt like I didn't connect all that much with Eio, her male counterpart. Maybe it was because there was less of him in the story? Perhaps, but it could very well be a good thing, since the romance wouldn't overwhelm the story and swallow it up. NOM. One character who did stand out more than Eio, however, was Aunt Harriet (spoiler alert: she's not Pia's aunt), a.k.a. Dr. Klutz. It was Harriet who taught Pia to act like a teenager, who sneaked her out of the lab to see Eio, who's doing all this despite the danger it poses to her job. This time, I'm not cheering for a dude in the story. I am whole-heartedly Team Harriet. With a dash of sass.
To tie things up, Origin had an intriguing idea, a fantastically chosen setting, and a wonderful cast of characters. While Origin didn't blow my mind (I wanted more expansion on the sci-fi), I enjoyed reading it very much, and found it to be a stunning debut from Khoury.
She's perfect, or so everyone thought because she has one of the characteristics that make us human beings. Curiosity. And it will get the best of her…or the worst. When she notices a hole in the fence and finds herself watching the world she lived in for seventeen years from the outside, everything changes. For the first time she's free to wander the Amazon jungle, where she meets Eio, a local who belongs to the Ai'oa tribe. But the thing is, he doesn't look like anyone in his tribe. He looks like the male version of Pia.
"His eyes are startlingly blue and as wide as papayas. I have never seen such blue, blue eyes."
Eventually he falls for her and wants her out of Little Cam forever. But she wants to become the newest member of the Immortis team and create more of her kind. But in order to accomplish that, she has to pass one last test that is against everything she believes in.
"Go now or lose your chance forever, Wild Pia's voice whispers in my head"
And it's only the beginning…
Awesome read with a powerful meaning.
Pia was likewise vibrant; a smart girl loaded with curiosity. Her family of scientists continually told her she was perfect and did their best to keep her in line, doing the things that THEY wanted her to do. I loved that Pia tried her best to please them, but also held true to her own personal convictions throughout the book.
I loved this story and I enjoyed the way each character – and the relationships – developed. My main complaint is that there are some plot devices which just did not make sense. I know, it’s fantasy, but people behaving as scientists just would NOT do some of the things that were done in this book. Had these things been better planned, I probably would bump my review up another star.
Even so, I really liked the book and recommend it to everyone.
Origin kicks off with animal torture. Yup. They believe in animal testing in Little Cam, the scientific community where Pia has lived all of her life. In the first chapter, she and Uncle Paolo (not really her uncle, but she calls everyone there Uncle or Aunt, since they all aided in her creation) put a sparrow through a cruel test. This is not the last instance of animal abuse in the book. If you're an animal lover, be warned that this book will make you extra super sad. I didn't like that and it set the tone for the novel.
The next thing that turned me off to Origin was Pia, our heroine. In novels, so much hinges on one's relationship to the main characters; there are some authors that can interest you in horrible characters, but that is rare and difficult to do. In theory, Pia is just the kind of person I would totally want to read about, since she, through the power of scientific inquiry, has been rendered immortal. Blades cannot cut her and she has crazy stamina. I love people with powers, people beyond human.
However, the scientists raised Pia for all of her seventeen years telling her how perfect she is. Well, after being told that for so long, she believes it, and acts accordingly. Perfect Pia is, in my opinion, a perfectly pretentious prat. Ugh. I just wanted to slap her for the whole of the opening of the novel. After helping with the torture/research of the sparrow and constantly thinking about how completely gorgeous and wonderful she is, Pia's little paradise is thrown into chaos with the arrival of a new female scientist. Pia immediately hates this woman for being too alluring and taking attention away from Pia. She refers to the woman as Dr. Klutz for half the book, even though the doctor has done nothing to garner her hatred. Later that night, at the fancy birthday party she insisted upon, Pia is upset that everyone's dancing but her, even though she turns down an offer to dance with someone she deems unworthy.
Pia is, simply put, one of the snottiest heroines I have encountered. Though she does grow up through the book, her transformation did not balance out my hatred for her earlier self. Honestly, if I didn't feel compelled to finish this for reviewing reasons, I might have DNFed. Another annoying habit of Pia's is her habit of referring to Wild Pia, her internal self that wants to go crazy in the jungle and reminded me unfavorably of 50 Shades' inner goddess.
Things got worse during the initial scenes after she met her love interest, aka the only boy her age she has EVER MET IN HER LIFE. Sorry if I don't swoon over the romance when she LITERALLY has never had any other options. Her standards are pretty low at this point. Anyway, they meet and she says racist things, assuming he's an idiot because he's a native, and he says sexist things, because she's a girl, AND EVERYONE'S OKAY WITH THAT. Except for me. Here's a sample (though keep in mind that this comes from the ARC and could be changed in the final version):
"'How do you know English? Uncle Paolo told me you natives were ignorant about everything outside your own villages.'
'I'm not ignorant,' Eio objects. 'It is you who are ignorant, Pia bird. My father taught me English.'"
And a bit later, misogyny:
"'I will take you back,' Eio announces, rising to his feet.
'I can find the way,' I say.
'I will take you back,' he repeats in a firmer tone. 'It's not good for a woman to walk alone in the jungle without a man to protect her.'
He thinks I'm a woman. I stand a little taller. 'Well, all right. If you want.'"
So now, they've bonded and she still is judging him:
"I feel like I've discovered some fascinating new species. Homo ferus: wild human. An unpredictable, nocturnal creature usually found in trees. Caution: may cause bewilderment and disorientation. Also, prone to teasing."
Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but since I don't tend to be the most touchy or PC person in the world, I'm guessing that some other readers will probably be irritated by these exchanges as well. I just found most of the book to be in rather poor taste, and the characters, at best, to be meh. I had very little interest in Eio or anyone else.
The bad guys and the good guys were clearly demarcated from the very beginning with no surprises. Everything was completely black and white, so things that should have been twists I saw coming from a long way off.
As far the dystopian stuff goes, it's definitely not especially dystopian. It's more dystopian in a microcosm. Certainly, Pia has discovered that her little world might not be what she always thought it was. There is some hinting that perhaps the corporation involved controls governments too, so it could be large-scale dystopian, but the focus is really on Pia (no wonder she's so vain) and not so much on the dystopian elements.
Despite all of that, I'm sure some people will enjoy this book, but it was not for me. I would probably be willing to try another Khoury book down the road, assuming I heard good things about the heroine. If you think you can handle Pia, then you might want to try Origin; if she sounds awful to you too, you may want to pass on this one.