BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of Origin by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Format Read: Hardcover
Buying Links: Amazon    Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

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.
Reviewed By: Bea

Bea's Thoughts:

I read a sample of this over the summer  and was intrigued. I was happy to see that my library had it and requested it. I stayed up late finishing it but I was a bit disappointed in it. A lot of the buzz around this book was about how original it is, but sadly it's not. A flower that holds the key to a medical miracle has been done before as has the secretive, egomaniacal quest for immortality. I was hoping Khoury could bring something new to these story lines but there's little that is fresh. (I've been going nuts trying to remember the name of a book I read. It was years ago but this book reminded me very much of "Origin" even though the it was not YA, but more of a medical thriller. It also involved a flower, secret research, a young girl, two actually, murder and mayhem). The natives in the book are cliched, being the stereotypical honorable, salt of the earth, keeper of wisdom aboriginals seen in countless books and movies (though it was better than the savage, ignorant aboriginals also popular in books and movies). The fable about the flower and the race of immortals was new to me but also a bit confusing. 

There were some plot holes, such as the absolute zero tolerance policy on books, magazines, maps, etc about the world outside of the compound; the reason given made no sense to me but it did allow for Pia to be ridiculously ignorant of certain matters and it did help her with her odd sense of morals. That, to me, was the main reason that a strict control of media and arts was enforced - it kept Pia ignorant and made it easier for the scientists to train her to be a sociopath. She knew there was a wider world but all she knew about it was that it existed. Any information she learned was what was fed to her, pablum style. Still, the ban was extreme and just doesn't really make sense overall except to allow Khoury to indulge in actions that serve the story but don't make sense. The love between Pia and Eio is sudden and never feels real; his village is much too quick to accept Pia both as a person and as a savior; and why in the world does Pia call everyone in the compound Aunt and Uncle? I do mean everyone, right down to the truck drivers and janitorial staff. Maybe to reinforce her loyalty to the mission and everyone involved? And it's never clear what happens to the staff who leave the compound when they retire; it's hinted that they don't survive but are killed off, yet that's never addressed. And the coincidences in this book, oy. Of course, Eio's little sister (sort of but not really) conveniently comes along just when evil scientists need a victim. *eye roll* Of course a new, rabble rousing scientist comes to the compound just when Pia is starting to get rebellious and needs an ally, etc.

There wasn't a lot of character development. Mom hates dad, he's too weak (ie he won't murder  innocent people or animals), she's in love with a man she can't have; scientists are cold, unemotional, sociopaths who care only about research and not people; the aboriginals are ye standard noble savages and so on.

Where the book did shine was in showing Pia's teenage rebellion, her growth emotionally and morally and also in the moral and philosophical questions - does the end ever justify the means, what is an acceptable price for research, do cultures not our own have value, what do we gain by being mortal and what, if anything, do we lose by giving up our mortality. While there could have been more depth in those discussions, what there is works in the story and never comes across as preachy.

"Origins" isn't great, isn't anything new or different but it is an enjoyable read and it did grab me from the get to. If you're willing and able to suspend belief, give it a try. But get it fro the library or borrow it from a friend.

I borrowed this book from my local library.


  1. I've not read the book, but the review seems open, honest and balanced. It's a fine line for a writer to walk between facts and logic, and emotion and passion. This book may not have it spot on, but at least it was an enjoyable read.

  2. This is one that I have been wanting to read, but haven't hot a chance to. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

    Happy Holidays
    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  3. I'm sorry it disappointed you but I'm glad you still found it enjoyable. I'll have to see if my library has it.

    1. I think part of my disappointment had to do with all of the buzz around how original it was. Then when it wasn't, it was such a let down. You and Jenea might enjoy it, being better prepared.


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