Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Type: ARC, won
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.
I wanted to love this, and there was a lot to love, but there was also a lot to stop me from really falling for this novel.
On the one hand, there are many things to commend:
It's clear Khoury did very extensive research; she didn't just decide, oh, well, I think a jungle would be all cool and mysterious. She researched it very thoroughly, and it shows.
As part of the Breathless Reads, this is labeled Breathless Beauty, and I can see why. At times, the writing was exceptionally beautiful; dramatic or poignant or just plain enchanting.
While some of the mysteries verged on predictable, they were enough of a pull to keep me turning the pages well into the early hours of the morning, and some of their reveals were genuinely horrifying. They made for a very intriguing, very complex plot.
And as several blurbs and the synopsis itself imply, at times, this is very introspective. It did genuinely make me think, and I love when a book can do that.
But despite all of that, there were just too many things that soured my reading experience. There's insta-love at its finest; though they don't kiss till the very end, there's dramatic declarations of love and I-can't-live-without-you's within days of knowing each other. I'm sorry, but that's not love, that's You're attractive and different and I think we should swap saliva. I might have been slightly more forgiving of it if I'd really adored Eio, but . . . I didn't. He was cheesy, melodramatic, and occasionally misogynistic. He had his moments, but he never really found a place in my heart.
Also, I could never tell exactly what sort of significance the romance was supposed to have. It was as though Khoury couldn't decide whether she wanted it to be a side plot or the main story line; even after finishing, I'm still not entirely sure which it is.
Along with the heavy dose of insta-love, there were also a number of other problems. The dialogue was exceptionally unrealistic. Certain parts were so forced and melodramatic that I could only cringe. While the writing could be beautiful, at times it grew awkward and juvenile. Pia was sometimes really fantastic, but most of the time she was very naive, wishy-washy, and oblivious. And all the villains of this piece were painfully one-dimensional. That was perhaps the most disappointing, because I think with this concept there's the potential to create exceptionally complex villains and raise some very morally ambiguous questions, but all of the antagonists were just . . . bad. Plain and simple. The novel was a field of black and white, without a shade of gray to be seen. The evil scientists vs. the moral natives. I wanted some more depth.
Overall, this novel was enjoyable, but there were just a few too many things dragging it down. However, I think Jessica Khoury has a boatload of potential, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for any future novels.