Author: Jessica Khoury
About: 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 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 on the night she turns seventeen, she finds a hole in the seemingly 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 deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.
Origin certainly had an interesting plot. Pia believes that the lab she lives in is essentially the world. Although she knows a ton about all sorts of things, her knowledge of the world out there was virtually nonexistent. However, I have some mixed feelings about a bit of the content. The story itself is very intriguing and enough to keep me turning the pages, but it included some violence that got a bit graphic.
Pia is a pretty unusual character. She is extremely intelligent in almost everything… except what the rest of the world is. To her, the world is essentially the labratory she lives in. She has some cool abilities, such as her immortality, super-speed, perfect memory, and more. I really liked that she seemed a bit haughty in the beginning, because it made her more human and added a fault to her. There was a good reason for it, of course; all her life she had been told she was perfect. The arrogance starts to wear off a bit throughout the story. Eio seems very nice and caring, and fits right in with the role he was given. He has some pretty surprising secrets, such as the identity of his father. Harriet Fields is a very in-depth and fun character, even having a sister with cerebral palsy. That was the reason she came to the lab. Most of the other scientists seemed very similar to me, with their constantly detatched personalities. Ami, one of the children from Eio’s village, is simply adorable, and probably one of my favorite characters.
The plot was great. The characters were definitely not flat and were very unique, each one different from the others. There were quite a few twists that never failed to surprise me, and the constant action kept me from closing the book and walking away. Part of the ending was enjoyably satisfying.
There are a few swear words, mostly from the same character, if I remember correctly. Some of the scenes could get quite disturbing and graphic. A couple of examples are the flesh-eating ants who attack a finger, which is then described. There is also the fact that the initiation for a lab job is to kill something that is held dear to the person, such as a horse for one and a baby ocelot for another. The book left me with a bit of a disturbed and not entirely happy feeling, though the ending was all right.
This book is definitely for older young adult readers, probably 14 – 15+, depending on the maturity level of the person. It is well-written but quite violent. For me, this book is probably a one-time read and not something I would love to read repeatedly.