Katie Stout's Reviews > Origin

Origin by Jessica Khoury
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Aug 31, 12

bookshelves: sci-fi, 2012-debuts, signed, penguin, globe-trekkers
Read from August 25 to 31, 2012

Similar Books: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, Altered by Jennifer Rush, Stung by Bethany Wiggins


This was a book that I originally wasn't that excited to read - I'm not usually into soft sci-fi (where there's no space or aliens, just something techy happening on Earth), but then I saw that this author lived in Georgia and was going to be at Decatur Book Festival. Plus, she's a 2012 debut and will be featured on Penguin's Breathless Reads Tour. And while this wasn't my favorite read, I thought it was still interesting.

What I liked most about the book was how different it was than other YA. Sure, the issue of immortality isn't something new, but the way that Khoury explores it is. I really liked the issues raised in this book - creating life, morality in science, playing God, etc. In that way, it reminded me of the TV show "Fringe" in that the scientists have to decide what they're willing to sacrifice for their craft and how far is too far.

I also really liked the setting. I don't think I've ever read another YA book set in the Amazon before. So cool! And Khoury does a great job of grounding us in that setting, with all of her vivid descriptions. I don't know if she's ever been there or not, but if she hasn't, she did a crazy amount of research, and it shows.

As for the characters, I never felt truly connected with them. The supporting characters are fairly one-dimensional, besides maybe Aunt Harriet (who was probably my favorite character overall). Pia was annoying at the beginning, but she has a good character arc. You've just got to push through the first half, where she constantly refers to herself as "perfect." (But hey, at least we don't have another YA MC who doesn't see herself as beautiful or talented. lol)

I've read some negative comments about the love interest Eio, based on one comment that he makes at the beginning of book about how Pia needs a man to show her through the jungle. Honestly, I wasn't offended at all. I thought it fit with his character; he's grown up in a culture which has kept its ancient practices and mindsets - he's going to have some ancient ideas, including ones on gender roles. If he had been this super progressive thinker, I wouldn't have believed him as a character. Besides, he goes through development, as well, so it's not like he's this chauvinist the whole book or something.

Also, I've read some criticism about the animal cruelty in the book. I guess I'm not sure why Khoury is being criticized for it when she's obviously showing it in a NEGATIVE manner. She's not telling people to go kill kittens; she uses the death animals as a representation of Pia's desensitization to the scientific world she grows up in. And I thought this was well done. But I guess if you get really offended by the portrayal of mistreatment of animals in general, then this book isn't for you - even if you agree with the message.

Really, I think I didn't enjoy this book more because I just wasn't into the premise. And I didn't find it like "Lost" at all, which is one of my all-time favorite shows. I wasn't engaged in the story, but I think that had more to do with the fact that I didn't connect with the plot or characters. Khoury's writing is solid, and I really did love her setting.

I also appreciated that this is a clean read, aside from a few minor curse words. (view spoiler) And I think it had a positive message overall, so I'm definitely an advocate for this book, even if it wasn't my thing.
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Reading Progress

08/27/2012 page 120
32.0% "Having a bit of a hard time getting into this one."
08/30/2012 page 252
68.0% "Still not really into this book. But determined to finish tonight!"

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