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I Belong

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Title: Origin

Author: Jessica Khoury

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 372 Pages

ISBN-10: 1595145958 (Razorbill/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-1595145956 (Razorbill/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost.

Quick & Dirty: An unknown and secluded compound holds the secret to immortality in the world’s largest jungle. Perfection has come, but at what price?

Opening Sentence: I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, “She is perfect.”

Excerpt: Yes (This is a sampler, scroll all the way down for the first three chapters of Origin)

The Review:

Origin by Jessica Khoury is a part of Penguin’s Breathless Reads. Khoury has created a world within the jungles of the Amazon rain forest, holding secrets beyond our imagination. I was excited to receive this book, not only for the gorgeous cover, but for what the synopsis has promised the reader. The Amazon is a large place, and to have a secret lab within it? Amazing! Origin screams science fiction and dystopia, and I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Deep within the Amazon is a secret laboratory called Little Cam. Little Cam is a compound that self-sustains enough resources to minimize outside contact. Little Cam holds one of the best kept secrets known to man – Pia. Pia is an immortal, perfect in every way. Years of scientific study has brought her to life, and she has perfected human flaw in so many ways. The scientists within Little Cam still need to test Pia, ensuring perfection to carry on the research as well as to mimic immortality to future subjects to come.

In the middle of the Amazon, a flower contains the elixir of Pia’s immortality and perfection. What they don’t take into account is human emotion. Pia longs to be outside of the electric fences of Little Cam and away from isolation, and on a special night, she finally gets her wish. Once outside of the compound, she learns the truths that the Amazon has to offer and the ugly lies that is the center of her universe.

Pia was raised in seclusion, only knowing her mother, father, and the scientists of Little Cam that is her family. She is the only young habitant of the compound, and is the only one who everyone constantly observes. I feel that there was a lot going against Pia, living her life under a microscope, waiting for the hope of perfection to be taken away. I admired who she was, and what she became. Pia was strong willed, and maybe naive at times, but I couldn’t blame her for that. She matured as best as she could, with the parents and guardians that she had.

There are so many wonderful supporting characters, some that I absolutely loved and some that I loved to hate! I won’t give out specifics to limit spoilers, but I will say that every scientist has a flaw. Aside from Pia, Khoury really showcased humanity and the flaws that are brought by our morals and emotions. I enjoyed how Khoury had the characters deal with topics as serious as morality, scientific research, and the decisions that someone inexperienced might make. I enjoyed the somewhat dark nature of the story as well as the balance that Khoury brought to the story.

I loved how Origin took place in the Amazon. There are so many wonders and secrets within the real Amazon that it translated beautifully onto paper. Khoury took creative license creating her own version of the Amazon, but with adding realistic elements. Khoury’s world was detailed, allowing my imagination to step foot into the Amazon. I mean, I was there. I could hear the sounds, I could smell the fresh air, and I could easily have lived in Little Cam as much as Pia did.

It was fascinating to see how Khoury created her world, taken after a real place, and manipulate and change it to cater to her story. I adored the balance of good and evil that she placed within Origin, and I really loved the spectrum of characters that she included. While I may not have emotionally connected to every single aspect of Origin, I still feel that this was a great read.

Notable Scene:

The outside! I’ve done it! I found a way out and I took it, and I only looked back once. I have never realized how much I wanted this until now.

Freedom. It’s as intoxicating as any drug, a rush of adrenaline through my body. Wild Pia and timid Pia emerge, fear is overwhelmed by heady exhilaration. I am on. I am whole. I am free.

I am so captivated by the emotions inside me that I don’t even see the boy until we collide.

FTC Advisory: Razorbill/Penguin provided me with a copy of Origin.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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