Sep 5, 2012

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Publishing Date: September 4, 2012
Pages/Format: 392, ARC

A beautifully told, tantalizing new exploration of an age-old desire to live forever.

Pia has grown up in a secret compound hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. She was raised by a team of scientists who bred her to be the first of a new immortal race. Now those scientists have begun to challenge her, with the goal of training her to carry on their dangerous work.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia stumbles across a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home. Free in the jungle for the first time, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Unable to resist, she continues sneaking out to see him. As they fall in love, they begin to piece together the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with nothing less than deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: LOVE.

I had been wanting to get on my hands on this book since I first discovered it months ago. I finally got my hands on it days before it released, and I dropped what I was reading to read it. Before beginning Origin, I realized that I may not like the book simply because I was anticipating it so much and had high expectations because of it--that could make the book not as good as I had hoped. Boy, was I wrong.

Origin was not what I expected--which isn't a bad thing--and it most definitely did not disappoint. While waiting was excruciating, it was totally worth it. I love this book. There are just so many things about it that make it exquisite, and I'm very happy that I love this book as much as I thought I would. Here's why.

This book was composed of so many elements that made it spectacular. For one, Pia: her voice was strong, and I was able to keep up with her. She's a great character, and it was easy to step into her shoes and be Pia. It's set in the Amazon. I love the Amazon, and I love the rainforest, so the setting was practically made for me. Oh, and there are a ton of animals. I love animals; they're one of my most favorite things ever. So, this book basically spoke to me. And then there's Eio--hello. I always love when I find a new fictional boyfriend, and he definitely makes the list. There's something about him that just makes him a great guy. Of course, he looks good. And he's really just a good, nice guy. He saves Pia's life. More than once. And he loves her and wants to be with her and risks his life for her. What more could a girl ask for? Oh, yeah--he's shirtless all the time. I also really liked Aunt Harriet, among other characters; she was different for Little Cam (where Pia lives) and I think she really changed Pia in a good way.

I love how unique this book was. There's not much--if anything--like it out there, at least not in Young Adult. I wish there were more books in the Amazon and in rainforests and with exotic animals--it's what I love. Of course, then this book wouldn't be unique. But Khoury doesn't need to worry (ha, that rhymes)--this book should stand out and do well, if I have anything to do about it. This book also shows how people can control one person, and how being raised a certain way--or by crazy scientists that need to play with Play-Doh, not microscopes--can affect someone as they grow older. 

Of course, this book isn't perfect, either--but what is? My problems were very few: I had trouble keeping track of some of the names, especially since most everyone was Aunt or Uncle; all the names of plants and animals had me a little confused, and there were many (of course, I plan to Google them in the future); there was one scene that just completely lost me (however, I was also tired); the romance was a little rushed, but I have to take into consideration the fact that Eio is really the first guy Pia's ever seen around her age, and he's attractive--who could resist? Almost every book I read has some kind of complaint in it from me--it's missing something, I hated the ending, etc. While I didn't love the ending (I'm hard to please with those), it was very satisfactory. And here's the thing: I can't really find a complaint about this book. I search for something, and there's really nothing. Nothing

The main thing I noticed in other reviews is the complaint about what happens to animals in this book, and I, personally, wasn't bothered by it--and I'm a big animal lover and hater of animal cruelty. Sure, what happened was sad and not right. But the scenes really weren't that bad and graphic. Scientists everywhere run tests on animals, and they are cruel, and much worse than what was portrayed in this book. And this is fiction--that's real life. Really, I think Khoury was just being realistic: scientists need test subjects, and these ones will do anything to create an immortal race. So, if the whole animal thing was preventing you from reading Origin, please don't let it stop you.

Things about Origin from me (contains spoilers):
-Why can't I have a pet jaguar?
-Why him/her?!
-I can't remember where exactly, but I got a little teary. And it had nothing to do with animals. 
-When can I see Eio again?

In the end, I love this book. I do. I want to go out and buy a copy of it right now, even though I'm broke. I want to finish all the other books I have to read because I want to reread it already. I heard the movie rights were already optioned for Origin--so, that's happening soon, right? Because I'm going to be such a major fangirl when/if it happens. And they better do it right, or else I may have to find a certain farm of ants. (When you read the book, you should understand that.) I'm very happy with how this book turned out, and though a sequel would be cool, simply because I love Pia and Eio and everyone else--I'm content with just this one. 

Origin is a well-written story that quickly pulled me into the jungle. It is breathtaking, amazing, and just plain fabulous. Jessica Khoury wrote a great debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what she'll do next. Origin was, simply, original. If I did ratings, it would get 5/5 stars, hands-down. This is what I like to call a good book.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Yes.
Would I reread it? Is it acceptable to reread a book mere days after reading it? In other words, yes.
Would I purchase it? Yes.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Have you read this book? No? Then get on it!

About the Author

Jessica Khoury is of Syrian and Scottish descent, and was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. Origin is her first novel. She still lives in Toccoa with her husband Ben, where she writes and coaches youth soccer. You can visit her online at

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