Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Series: Not part of a series
Publication date: September 4th, 2012
Published by: Razorbill
Source: Purchased in a bookstore

Format: Hardcover
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Favorite quote: “Because you are young and free and one with the jungle. You are mortal, but instead of clinging to the hope of immortality, you embrace each day, one at a time, and never worry about tomorrow.”   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars!

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury is another book that I was really looking forward to this year and after reading it, I feel a bit let down. It wasn't the writing (Jessica Khoury is actually quite a fabulous author) or the characters, or even the insta-love. It was the fact that while I was reading, I felt as though I were listening to someone preach about the evils of science.

Now, the whole science vs. morality debate is something that has been done over and over and over again in books, movies, music, and anything else you can think of. I feel like Jessica Khoury tried to show both sides of the debate and argue for both, but unfortunately, I don't feel that she succeeded. Her novel presents fantastic arguments as to where the line should be drawn, but she doesn't present any gray areas. Pia is a highly intelligent and logical young girl who has been taught to consider all of the possibilities and when she is presented with this debate, she just... Shuts down. It seemed strange to me that she didn't consider other situations, given her ability to coolly assess scientific situations and come to an educated, well thought out conclusion. For example, if her task had been to cure cancer and potentially save millions of lives, would her conclusion have been the same? Or would she still have taken the same measures? It all seemed a bit too simple for me, even when considering that it is a young adult novel.

I know that the relationship between Pia and Eio seemed cheesy and contrived to a lot of readers, but personally, I enjoyed their chemistry and Pia's immediate fascination with Eio rang true to me. She's never seen another boy her age. Of course she's going to be fascinated with the very first guy she meets. He's new and different and forbidden. And she's a teenager with hormones raging all over the place, regardless of how intelligent she is. For Eio, it seems like a cultural thing. I got the sense that community and family was very important to the Ai'oan tribe and he's also never seen a girl his own age who looks like his father, so Pia holds that same level of curiosity and fascination for him. Both characters seemed to be very sincere in their love. They're both achingly innocent and their love reflects that.

Now. The big issue that a lot of readers took exception to (at least that I've seen/heard around the web) in Origin deals with the Pia's "final test". I've seen everything from outrage to tears regarding it and I feel the need to address it as well. I do not feel that it was unnecessary. The outcome demonstrates perfectly what Jessica Khoury is trying to drive home with her readers and it is the catalyst for Pia's ultimate decision. There's a bit more to it than that, but it would delve into the land of spoiler-dom and I like to avoid that country as much as possible.

Final word: Origin was enjoyable for me. I feel like my expectations for it were a bit too high, but overall I liked it. It succeeded beautifully in some areas and failed horrifically in others, but both high and low points were at least understandable. It's getting a lot of mixed reviews, some deserved and others not totally thought out, but it's a book that I think should still be given a chance. However, it's not going to be for everyone and I definitely respect that. Personally, I really enjoyed it and probably would have given it a higher rating if I'd reviewed it immediately after reading it.

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