Origin by Jessica Khoury
Series: Origin #1
Published by Razorbill
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
Pia has always known her destiny. She is meant to start a new race, a line of descendants who will bring an end to death. She has been bred for no other purpose, genetically engineered to be immortal and raised by a team of scientists in a secret compound hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. Now those scientists have begun to challenge her, with the goal of training her to carry on their dangerous work.
For as long as she can remember, Pia’s greatest desire has been to fulfill their expectations. But then one night she finds a hole in the impenetrable fence that surrounds her sterile home. Free in the jungle for the first time in her life, 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.
Origin is a beautifully told, electric new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever. But is eternal life worth living if you can’t spend it with the one you love? (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Pia is a sixteen/almost-seventeen year old girl that has been raised in Little Cam, a small, compound hidden away in a remote part of the jungle, away from all civilization, for her entire life. She is immortal and is being trained and educated so she can one day take over as director at Little Cam in order to continue research and create an entire race of immortal people just like her. This thrills Pia – this is all she has ever wanted because all she has ever been told is how great she is and how wonderful being immortal must be and how great it will be for the world when there are more immortals just like perfect Pia. Interestingly enough, while Pia has knowledge that surpasses most people in subjects such as science and mathematics, she has been kept extremely sheltered from life outside of the compound. She knows nothing of the world – nothing about other countries, nothing about world history, nothing about pop culture. She has read nothing in literature except for the text books provided for her at Little Cam. Her learning is expressly controlled and dictated by the very scientists that encourage her to be more like them. So far, Pia has never questioned this and led a very happy life.
For her seventeenth birthday, Pia is given a birthday party in which there is dancing, a cake, and music. Pia notices that some of the scientists pair off into couples and dance – as she watches them, their interactions interest her. She notices a difference in the way they interact, as if they are attracted to one another – particularly one couple. The two act almost as if they have a crush on each other, although Pia doesn’t quite understand these actions or feelings, as she has never experienced them before. She has always been told not to let love and romance get in the way of her objective, which is immortality and furthering the immortal race.
On the same night of this party, Pia happens to notice a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam and acting on a whim – she leaves to see what is out there. Pia explores the jungle and doesn’t get very far before she comes face-to-face with A BOY. This boy, Eio, is from a neighboring native village and is very attractive to Pia. Soon Pia finds herself sneaking out to see Eio, even when the fence is repaired, and even after her sneaking around is discovered. Eio shows her things outside the prison-like borders of Little Cam that Pia has never experienced before (like a river), and she loves the freedom of the jungle. Pia realizes that these feelings and emotions that she is experiencing for the first time with and over Eio are a force to contend with: they are strong and they are working against her life’s objective. Suddenly Pia has not one but two very important things on her mind: furthering her studies at Little Cam so she can create more immortals AND continuing to see Eio and building her relationship with him.
Also burning in Pia’s mind a heart: the more time she spends away from Little Cam, the more Pia begins to question exactly what is going on there. As she seeks answers to some of her questions, Pia despises what she finds and realizes that she has been lied to for her entire life. Throughout the story, Pia is continuously faced with some tough decisions, many of which affect not only her but other people as well in very big ways.
While maintaining an easy balance, Origin has a ton of stuff inside the story: ethical issues galore, romance, free will, morality, etc. It was certainly a book that made me think while I read it, but not in such a heavy way that it overshadowed the story. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
**Sidenote: To everyone that dislikes ‘insta-love’ – put yourself in the story, picture yourself without a person your age – TEENAGER – for your entire life, then put yourself face-to-face with a person of the opposite sex that is easy on the eyes and lives in the jungle. You don’t have to insta-love them, but I BET YOU’LL BE INSTA-ATTRACTED TO THEM. It’s not so bad, you guys. It worked super well in the story.
Great & Varied Secondary Cast
(including a WOW Villain)
is currently available for purchase.
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