Thursday, August 30, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Book:  Origin
Author:  Jessica Khoury
Publisher:  Razorbill
Date:  September 4, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B-

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
.  (Cover and description from


Initial reaction

Title and Cover
I liked both of them.  The cover is interesting and stands out from the crowd of fancy dress covers.  The title is mysterious, yet it gives you an idea of what might be contained in the book.  It works.

What’s the Story?
First, let me say that the premise of this book is amazingly original.  There is an original mythology tied into the ultimate human quest:  the quest for immortality.  I loved the whole concept.  It was beautifully woven together.

There were lots of emotions in this book as well.  I was wary, ecstatic, overwhelmed, appalled, shocked, delighted and horrified at different times throughout the story.  I love it when a book can cause me to experience so many emotions.

I liked quite a few of the characters as well.  Pia is a likeable, if very naïve, protagonist.  Even though she does some really dumb things at times, she is so sheltered and brainwashed even, that as a reader, I sympathized with her even when I cringed at her choices and behaviors.  I especially liked Aunt Harriet and Uncle Antonio and all of the Ai’oans.  Many of the animals felt like characters as well and that was a nice dimension.  Even the jungle itself felt alive.

So by now, some of you are going “Wait!  You have given this book a B-, but you’re saying all these great things?”  Yes, alas, that is true.  Why?  Because all of these great things happened, for the most part, in the last 100 pages of a 400 page book!!!!  Honestly, there were a few times when I wondered if I would ever finish this crazy book!  This book meanders around more than a slow flowing river through the jungle, people!  I just kept wondering when she was going to get to the whole point of the novel!  Now, once I hit those last 100 pages, I could not put this book down, but I had to fight through the first 300 pages to get there.  NOT. FUN.

I wish that she had tightened up the plot somewhat.  I’m not sure what or how that needed to happen, but some editor should have cut some major page amounts out of this book and I think it would be a thrilling page-turner. 

And the bonus?  This book has a native jungle hottie!  Woo hoo!  Not many books can say that!

The Soundtrack

Of course, the first song that came to mind really has nothing to do with this book, but I had to put it on the soundtrack.
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses

This one is sort of funky and fun, so why not?

Jungle Fever by the Chakachas

This song is a little too upbeat for the storyline, but the words fit so well and it is so jungle-y.

Right by Your Side by The Eurythmics

The quintessential 80’s band, singing a song for the main male character!

Jungle Boy by Bow Wow Wow


The final grade
My final grade for this one is a B-.  I just can’t get over how much I struggled to conquer the first part of the book.  However, I’m glad that I did because it paid off in the end, but if you are an impatient reader, you might not be able to stick it out.  If you do manage, you’ll be very glad you did.

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