Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Origin” as Want to Read:
Origin
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Origin

by
3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  1,158 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews

Lena is a fingerprint expert at a crime lab in the small city of Syracuse, New York, where winters are cold and deep. Suddenly, a series of crib deaths--indistinguishable from SIDS except for the fevered testimony of one distraught mother with connections in high places--draws the attention of the police and the national media and raises the possibility of the inconceivabl

...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by BBC Audiobooks America (first published May 5th 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Origin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Origin

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Meredith
This book transcends its constituent parts. It is more than a mystery, more than a forensic thriller or police procedural, more than a love story. It is a haunting character study, an exploration of origin and identity.

Lena Dawson is the rare first-person heroine with depth, who is written with such conviction and awareness that her development isn't encumbered by the first-person perspective. She is the lens through which we view a strange, seemingly disjointed flurry of events. Her world view
...more
John
Jan 10, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel of literary suspense that might have done well to tune back the "literary" aspect -- basically a euphemism for a surfeit of twee, self-indulgent writing. It manages, though, to be a good and modestly gripping tale despite the irritation of our having to wade through puddles of the author's literary pretensions.

Lena Dawson is a fingerprints expert with the Syracuse PD. When a rich mother makes a direct plea to her to examine the death, supposedly from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome),
...more
LJ
ORIGIN (Police Procedural-Lena Dawson-Syracuse, NY-Cont) – VG
Abu-Jaber, Diana – 1st mystery
WW Norton & Company, 2007, US Hardcover – ISBN:9780393064551
First Sentence: I spot her as soon as I get off the elevator on the fourth floor.
*** Fingerprint expert Lena Dawson possesses a heightened sense of smell and intuitive abilities that help her in her job with the Syracuse Police. She has no knowledge of her natural parents and, while raised by foster parents, as memories causing her to believe
...more
T.L. Cooper
Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber entices the reader to think about the role of identity in the world. It’s a beautifully written novel that doesn’t shy away from intense topics. Abu-Jaber creates a main character, Lena, who is hard to know, confusing, and at times even hard to like, but who will entrance the reader. At times her thought process frustrates the reader but always with a purpose. Abu-Jaber weaves a tale around infant deaths, adoption, foster care, and mental illness that entertains the rea ...more
Pascale
Aug 07, 2012 Pascale rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After taking two online PSU classes with her, I finally met Diana Abu-Jaber at a book reading, and she seems to be a lot of fun. So I will still seek out any new book Abu-Jaber writes by loyalty and because I just loved “The Language of Baklava.” So, it is with hesitation that I must admit to not liking this book as much as I’d liked her exquisite first book.
This is the (unlikely) story of a forensics fingerprint clerk who finds herself investigating some (unlikely) mysterious crib death, which
...more
Tortla
Feb 17, 2011 Tortla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: schooly, wishlist
Satisfying for its conformity to my expectations of chick-lit/murder mystery. Fun but occasionally frustratingly facile. Not that it's stupid or poorly written. It's actually original for its damaged/borderline Asbergers-y protagonist. And it was engaging enough to keep me guessing about the "answers" to the crime and the protagonist's origins and how they were connected. Maybe a little too predictable romance-wise, but that part was kind of like a guilty pleasure to the reading. Good ol'fashion ...more
Annmarie
Feb 08, 2011 Annmarie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this atmospheric literary mystery. The fascinating main character, Lena Dawson, is a lab tech in snowy, frigid Syracuse, NY, who has an uncanny ability for intuitive leaps of deduction and an exceptional sense of smell. She's also kind of socially out of step with coworkers and the rest of the world. When multiple SIDS cases start coming into the lab and a distraught mother barges in to beg Lena to help, she starts to think that perhaps something suspicious is going on. And, i ...more
Melissa
Sep 04, 2007 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ape mothers & upstaters
Chris and I heard the author read from this book on Orcas Island in Washington on our honeymoon this summer. (Yes, Chris is a good husband for going to dorky author readings on his honeymoon. There was also a morning when we went our separate ways to get tours of the Seattle ballpark & public library, respectively. You can guess who went where.) Anyway, this book was interesting to me, since it takes place in Syracuse, NY, otherwise known as "the biggest city in the frigid northlands near wh ...more
Laila
Jul 09, 2014 Laila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a departure from the other Abu-Jaber books I've read! THis one was much darker and more bleak, partly because of the story and partly because she insisted on constantly highlighting the cold/snowy/grey/overall awful climate of her hometown of Syracuse. I found that a bit much. Some of the plot was a bit far fetched but it I read through this pretty voraciously.
Linda
Feb 26, 2017 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Ergens tussen de 3 en 4 sterren. Het duurde voor mij even voor ik erin zat, want er worden nogal wat dingen bijgehaald en dat maakt dat ik er lastig inkwam. Maar toen ik eenmaal in het verhaal zat moest hij ook in 1 ruk uit, dus zou ik hem toch aanraden
Drew
Mar 26, 2010 Drew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A fingerprint expert in the Syracuse, New York police crime lab, Lena notices a strange rise in the number of crib deaths occurring in and around the city. Though others in the police department, even those she works with in the crime lab, don't believe her theory of a serial baby killer, Lena pursues the evidence with the help of detective Keller Duesky. Her investigation becomes all the more strange when the deaths seem to connect to her own memories of the past spent in the care of an "ape-mo ...more
Nancy
Jul 08, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Ramos
I purchased this book because the author was one of my regulars (back when I used to work at a restaurant inside of a book store). I picked it up off the shelf, saw the familiar face and was overcome by curiosity. Afterward I brought it home and it has lain undisturbed on my bookshelf for a couple of years, until just a few days ago. The reason I hadn't picked it up before is because crime/detective novels just aren't my thing. The first chapter or two left me cold as the Syracuse winter during ...more
My Inner Shelf
Origine est un thriller principalement axé sur la psychologie de la narratrice, Lena, une jeune femme à la personnalité complexe et torturée. Son personnage est particulièrement intéressant, elle nous plonge dans l’enquête de manière totalement immersive. Le style est excellent, l’écriture est fouillée, travaillée, le rythme peut surprendre, notamment lors des dialogues, très souvent entrecoupés par les réflexions personnelles de Lena. Ses impressions parsèment le récit, on pourrait presque qual ...more
Jennifer
This might be the most dream-like book I have ever read. The sense of being in a dream is so strong throughout the book that I was not sure if we were ever in the real world. Everything is surrounded by a haze or fog and it was very strange. I am still not sure if I liked it or not.
Lena is a fingerprint analyst and extremely good at her job. She becomes involved in a case of babies that have died apparently of SIDS, but the truth is much more sinister. As Lena finds out more about the details of
...more
Ryan Mishap
A literary, slightly odd, mystery novel involving a fingerprint expert, Lena, and a series of crib deaths. The winter setting in Syracuse, New York aids the chilled atmosphere of the book, and Lena’s oddness, detachment from life around her. This is contrasted with her memories of a mother, possibly an ape, and tropical heat—but she doesn’t know her origins and her foster parents—who never adopted her—won’t say. I told you it was odd, but anyway, Lena doesn’t believe that the infant deaths are ...more
Marigold
Jun 24, 2009 Marigold rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, abandoned
I’m sad to say I did not finish this novel by Diana Abu-Jaber, whose other books I’ve really enjoyed. This one… if I’d started off thinking of it as a regular novel rather than a mystery, maybe that would have worked. I think my big problem is dislike of the main character who narrates the story. Lena is a lab tech working in fingerprint forensics – but she’s also psychic & can pick up information about murder cases through smells (really?) and feelings – though my impression of her is that ...more
Mosunflower
May 28, 2015 Mosunflower rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend many of the reviews already written about this book so I will not try to offer my own deatiled review because I don't think I can do the book justice other than to say I found the main character equal parts fascinating and frustrating. The greatest take-away about the Lena's character is that one's childhood MATTERS. Some pain never ends.

Because I was born in Syracuse I found the book enjoyable simply as a walk down memory lane - savoring the names of streets I remember from m
...more
Christina
Oct 13, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book and looked forward to any free time I could devote to it. Story follows a lab tech who specializes in finger print analysis who is part of the investigative team looking into infant deaths, which have been ruled SIDS but one mother refuses to accept this. I am not one to ruin one's reading experience by telling too much of the plot line. Let me just say that the protagonist, Lena, has an interesting and mystery filled past which influences her commitment to the case. I'd ...more
Christine
Jun 24, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This book is not your every day police procedural. Yes, it fits squarely into that genre. But, along with all of the usual stuff we have a very unique - and uniquely sympathetic - narrator. It will be a long time before I forget Lena.

In addition to the main character, I thought the book had great atmosphere. I've lived in a very cold place, and this book takes place in the winter time in Syracuse, New York. The snow and ice and dark lent great atmosphere to this story.

I didn't love it. There we
...more
Elizabeth
Feb 10, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little skeptical of this book at the beginning. The writing pulled me right in, but the protagonist was a little strange and quite a few of the supporting characters were down-right awful (bad character, not not well written). In the end, the resolution was on-point and erased any concerns I may have had at the beginning. Also, the author's description of winter/early spring in Upstate NY was spot on, took me back to my childhood.
Courtney Moss
I don't normally read a whole lot of Adult Fiction, but this was a nice change from my usual YA fantasy readings.

Lena, the main character, is around 33, and believes that she was raised by Gorillas until she was about 3, when she was placed in a foster home. She carries much resentment toward her foster parents, because they never adopted her, despite her living with them until she was an adult.

Separated from her cheating husband, very introverted and anti-social, her job as a Lab technician s
...more
Jennifer Kreft
Apr 24, 2011 Jennifer Kreft rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Since I didn't pay much attention to the back-cover description, I assumed from the title that it was a sci-fi flick. Instead I got a fascinating study on identity featuring a unique narrator. Lena is a fingerprint analyst with a supernatural talent of identifying criminals based on the evidence they've left behind but virtually no knowledge of her own roots. Although her foster parents have kept her permanently, they've never officially adopted her and a ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Origin is set in Syracuse New York during winter, a cold blustery place. Lena lives a quiet life, taking pride in her work as a fingerprint analyst but not expecting much fulfillment outside of the job. Divorced from her philandering husband and living in a flophouse apartment, her main entertainment is taking long walks on the weekend. She looks forward to her walks, spending hours out of doors, stretching her legs as she moves around the city. It has taken Lena a great effort to recover from h ...more
Bill
May 11, 2013 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, mystery
A Gentle Crime Novel

Abu-jaber, Diane. (2007). Origin. New York: W.W. Norton

This novel is in the rarified category of “literary” crime novel, which means the characters are well-developed and the writing is above average (that’s the literary part) AND, it has a good, plausible crime story without too many loose ends (the crime genre part).

The main character and protagonist and first-person narrator is Lena, a thirty year-old fingerprint expert with the police crime lab in Syracuse, N.Y. She inves
...more
Wisteriouswoman
Feb 11, 2015 Wisteriouswoman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my kind of book. I love sensory descriptions especially when all the senses are involved. So many experiences can be remembered through smell. I felt drawn into Lena's world. The dreamlike quality of her disjointed memories really appealed to me. It felt like I was in the rain forest being cared for by a loving ape mother. The mystery was engrossing as well and I was surprised by some of the twists and turns.

One thing I liked was the fact that the two lovers in her life were so different
...more
Jennifer
Feb 28, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brief Description: Lena Dawson is a fingerprint specialist who has an odd gift for communicating almost telepathically with crime scenes. When a series of SIDS deaths strike an odd note within her, Lena feels compelled to look deeper into the cases. However, the more she explores, the more convinced she is that a serial killer of babies is on the loose and, odder yet, the killer seems to have a connection to Lena herself. As Lena investigates her past and the current crimes, she is drawn into th ...more
Sarah
Oct 19, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Borders
The things that drive people thorugh life are love, meaning and identity. Who am I? Where did I come from? And what does that say about the person I am today? These are questions we all ask ourselves constantly, not just in adolescence when these question frame our entire lives but also through adulthood. These questions also frame our political dialogue. Look at how much time we spend thinking about evolution/creation. In Origin, Abu-Jaber explores this idea through Lena.

Lena is a foster child
...more
Marca
Jun 28, 2010 Marca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ooh ooh ooh! What's with the freakin' apes? (I am in the middle of the book.)

Finished audio book. The reader is very good. The book...so so. Starts out with great promise. Lena Dawson is a forensics expert in Syracuse, NY. When a bunch of SIDS cases start showing up in the lab, Lena fears there is a baby serial killer. Lena herself was reared by a foster family that never adopted her, although they consider her their daughter. Lena also remembers (and spends a LOT of time thinking about) her ap
...more
Rachel
Feb 24, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't really know what made me pick up this book--the cover, maybe. It involves a finger-print technician investigating multiple SIDS deaths that end up tying into her own mysterious childhood. This doesn't seem like a time that I would want to read anything remotely involving babies dying, but the book really didn't sensationalize or dwell on that part of the story in a tabliod way, the way I was afraid it would. It was a very dream-like read, being inside the head of this woman, the narrator ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Close to the Bone
  • Sacrificial Muse (Sabrina Vaughn #2)
  • West of the Jordan
  • Anatomy of Fear (Nate Rodriguez, #1)
  • Worse Than Myself
  • Now You See Him
  • Zulu
  • The Blood of Lorraine: A Novel
  • Not Enough Indians: A Novel
  • Generation Loss (Cass Neary, #1)
  • The Sky Fisherman
  • Falsely Accused (Butch Karp, #8)
  • Good Blood (Gideon Oliver, #11)
  • Einvígið
  • In Search of the Kite Runner
  • Things I Like About America: Personal Narratives
  • Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature
  • Le Requiem des abysses
6330
Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.


More about Diana Abu-Jaber...

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“It's a big formless, arctic night, the stars so bright they seem to hiss. I walk with my hands in pockets, arms pressed to my sides. Even in my down parka, the cold is still there. I feel as though my blood is crackling in it, my bones conducting cold like wires. My toes are curled in their boots.” 0 likes
More quotes…