Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Most Unusual Origins

Published: September 4th, 2012
By: Jessica Khoury
ISBN-13: 9781595145956

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.


   Pia is the first in a race of immortal beings.  Or at least that's the hope of the scientists, who have been injecting her ancestors with serum from a mysterious flower they call Elysia, that finally altered Pia's genetic makeup (she is fifth generation of the experiment).  She has grown up among a top-secret research facility and it's staff, being told how special and perfect she is.  Pia is taught everything scientific she could ever need to know, but everything about the outside world is kept from her.  There is nothing she knows outside of Little Cam.  The mission is noble, all encompassing and more important than anything.  Then on the night of Pia's 17th birthday after the arrival of a vibrant new scientist (Dr. Harriet) who challenges everything she's been taught, she discovers and opening in the electrical fence and decides to explore the jungle, against the rules.  She discovers the native tribe of the Ai'oans and learns that there is more to life than striving for immortality - especially in her growing relationship with Eio, the son of a native woman and a scientist from Little Cam (whose identity he won't reveal).  When all the secrets of Little Cam come spilling out, will Pia choose to stay involved with the scientists research or will she escape to the Ai'oans and be free for the first time in her life?  And what will the cost of the second choice be in the end?  I adored this book.  It was such an interesting concept, even if it wasn't a new one by far.  Scientists trying to engineer an immortal race, animal experiments, cruel mental tests and brainwashing all lent to the realism of Pia's struggles in this book.  I loved that Harriet came into Little Cam, making Pia question her blind obedience and giving her a map of the entire world (something she has never seen before).  Pia's relationships with Eio and his young foster sister Ami are very sweet and so heartbreaking.  The fact that she is able to relate to them, but so far apart due to her exclusion from reality is angering to me individually.  I loved the plot twists involved, although the identity of Eio's Father was pretty obvious from the start of the mystery.  I loved Alai's relationship with Pia and was disappointed when he disappeared for the second half of the book until the very end.  The climax of the novel was full of violence, moral uproar and some very stirringly emotional goodbyes.  The descriptions of the jungle and the compound were very lush and beautiful for someone who had never been there before writing the book!  I loved the philosophical questions this book raises so effortlessly, while it worldbuilds around the reader.  I would highly recommend this to people who like sci-fi, but aren't hardcore fans and want a very fast-paced mystery/adventure book with elements of sci-fi included.  I really loved this book and if anything my only complaint would be that it ended and that it left us hanging as to the endings of Pia, Eio and Harriet's individual stories after the fall of Little Cam.

VERDICT:  4.85/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published September 4th, 2012.*

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