Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Pia has spent her whole life in Little Cam, surrounded by the scientists and support staff that she calls "Aunt" and "Uncle".  It is a peaceful existence, with their little scientific compound surrounded by an electric fence which keeps the rainforest and its inhabitants away from the camp.  Pia lives an interesting life, learning about science and mathematics from her Aunts and Uncles in the hopes that she will become a scientist like them in the near future, a goal that Pia strives to meet as she and her kind are the whole purpose of the camp - the only problem is that Pia is the only one of her kind. 

Born through scientific research, although she was carried by a mother like any other child, Pia has skin that can not be cut, she has heightened senses of sight and hearing, she can run faster than most people, she can not drown, she can not suffocate - but she also can not live a free life.  Although she never realised, Pia is a prisoner in her guilded cage of science.  The scientists have great plans for her future, and she is so precious to them that they can not allow her to explore the world beyond Little Cam, even the small slice of the world on the other side of the fence. 

Pia has never complained about her life of wanted more, because she never knew there was more to want, but after she escapes one night and meets Eio that begins to change.  Eio is unlike anyone she has meet before, and when she begins to see the world through his eyes, and the eyes of his people, it becomes clear that science is not the only answer.  Torn between two worlds, Pia becomes increasingly confused, especially when she begins to realise that the people around her are keeping dreadful secrets - secrets that may be too much for her to bear once she learns the truth.

Origin is hands down one of the best novels I have read this year - not just teen novels, but adult novels as well.  Jessica Khoury has produced a breath taking first novel that grabs you from the start and keeps you thoroughly engrossed until the end.  Like really good novels, Origin has a strong voice that makes you connect with Pia immediately, seeing her world through her eyes.  At first it seems as though there is a golden glow around her world, her enthusiasm for her life and work is all you can taste and feel, but as the novel progresses you can feel that glamour washing off, you can feel the faltering as Pia begins to realise some of the truths that you as a reader (and as a more worldly person) pick up a little quicker.

The world of Origin is perfect for the story, and it takes a little while to pick up that it is set in our current world (okay, maybe I was a little slow, but I have been reading a lot of books set in alien worlds recently).  The characters are fantastic, and there is a lot of realistic interpersonal relationships between the characters that just make it even more real.  This is a thoroughly good read and I hope that it is not the only writing of this quality that we will see from Khoury - enjoy!

If you like this book then try:
  • What's left of me by Kat Zhang
  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  • Beta by Rachel Cohn
  • Anna dressed in blood by Kendare Blake
  • Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Reviewed by Brilla

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