Customer Review

47 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Torture of Animals, Obnoxious Heroine and Instalove, September 6, 2012
This review is from: Origin (Hardcover)
You guys, I have been so excited to read Origin. Unfortunately, just because I think a book sounds awesome does not mean that it actually will be. Sadly, I found Origin to be an entirely disappointing read for me, full of mistreatment of animal, bitching, and unsurprising plot twists.

Origin kicks off with animal torture. Yup. They believe in animal testing in Little Cam, the scientific community where Pia has lived all of her life. In the first chapter, she and Uncle Paolo (not really her uncle, but she calls everyone there Uncle or Aunt, since they all aided in her creation) put a sparrow through a cruel test. This is not the last instance of animal abuse in the book. If you're an animal lover, be warned that this book will make you extra super sad. I didn't like that and it set the tone for the novel.

The next thing that turned me off to Origin was Pia, our heroine. In novels, so much hinges on one's relationship to the main characters; there are some authors that can interest you in horrible characters, but that is rare and difficult to do. In theory, Pia is just the kind of person I would totally want to read about, since she, through the power of scientific inquiry, has been rendered immortal. Blades cannot cut her and she has crazy stamina. I love people with powers, people beyond human.

However, the scientists raised Pia for all of her seventeen years telling her how perfect she is. Well, after being told that for so long, she believes it, and acts accordingly. Perfect Pia is, in my opinion, a perfectly pretentious prat. Ugh. I just wanted to slap her for the whole of the opening of the novel. After helping with the torture/research of the sparrow and constantly thinking about how completely gorgeous and wonderful she is, Pia's little paradise is thrown into chaos with the arrival of a new female scientist. Pia immediately hates this woman for being too alluring and taking attention away from Pia. She refers to the woman as Dr. Klutz for half the book, even though the doctor has done nothing to garner her hatred. Later that night, at the fancy birthday party she insisted upon, Pia is upset that everyone's dancing but her, even though she turns down an offer to dance with someone she deems unworthy.

Pia is, simply put, one of the snottiest heroines I have encountered. Though she does grow up through the book, her transformation did not balance out my hatred for her earlier self. Honestly, if I didn't feel compelled to finish this for reviewing reasons, I might have DNFed. Another annoying habit of Pia's is her habit of referring to Wild Pia, her internal self that wants to go crazy in the jungle and reminded me unfavorably of 50 Shades' inner goddess.

Things got worse during the initial scenes after she met her love interest, aka the only boy her age she has EVER MET IN HER LIFE. Sorry if I don't swoon over the romance when she LITERALLY has never had any other options. Her standards are pretty low at this point. Anyway, they meet and she says racist things, assuming he's an idiot because he's a native, and he says sexist things, because she's a girl, AND EVERYONE'S OKAY WITH THAT. Except for me. Here's a sample (though keep in mind that this comes from the ARC and could be changed in the final version):
"'How do you know English? Uncle Paolo told me you natives were ignorant about everything outside your own villages.'
'I'm not ignorant,' Eio objects. 'It is you who are ignorant, Pia bird. My father taught me English.'"
And a bit later, misogyny:
"'I will take you back,' Eio announces, rising to his feet.
'I can find the way,' I say.
'I will take you back,' he repeats in a firmer tone. 'It's not good for a woman to walk alone in the jungle without a man to protect her.'
He thinks I'm a woman. I stand a little taller. 'Well, all right. If you want.'"
So now, they've bonded and she still is judging him:
"I feel like I've discovered some fascinating new species. Homo ferus: wild human. An unpredictable, nocturnal creature usually found in trees. Caution: may cause bewilderment and disorientation. Also, prone to teasing."
Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but since I don't tend to be the most touchy or PC person in the world, I'm guessing that some other readers will probably be irritated by these exchanges as well. I just found most of the book to be in rather poor taste, and the characters, at best, to be meh. I had very little interest in Eio or anyone else.

The bad guys and the good guys were clearly demarcated from the very beginning with no surprises. Everything was completely black and white, so things that should have been twists I saw coming from a long way off.

As far the dystopian stuff goes, it's definitely not especially dystopian. It's more dystopian in a microcosm. Certainly, Pia has discovered that her little world might not be what she always thought it was. There is some hinting that perhaps the corporation involved controls governments too, so it could be large-scale dystopian, but the focus is really on Pia (no wonder she's so vain) and not so much on the dystopian elements.

Despite all of that, I'm sure some people will enjoy this book, but it was not for me. I would probably be willing to try another Khoury book down the road, assuming I heard good things about the heroine. If you think you can handle Pia, then you might want to try Origin; if she sounds awful to you too, you may want to pass on this one.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 14, 2012 12:41:38 AM PDT
Kate Workman says:
While I appreciate the detail that went into this review, I seriously have no idea how you see your first example here : "'How do you know English? Uncle Paolo told me you natives were ignorant about everything outside your own villages.'
'I'm not ignorant,' Eio objects. 'It is you who are ignorant, Pia bird. My father taught me English.'" of being in any way racist. If she grew up a certain way, never being aware of others, or others' customs, habits, experiences, etc., and only knew what someone else told her (possibly to keep her from seeking out outside companions,) then that's a fair reaction for her to have. At least she said ignorant, instead of something like, "Well, Uncle Paolo told me you natives were a stupid bunch of simpletons," you know? Ignorant means someone just hasn't experienced/been aware of something, not that they're deliberately ignoring it.

Honestly, I can't wait to read this book. We'll see if I really like it, or if I agree with your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 7:04:26 AM PDT
I appreciate your comment.

You're right. I was just so annoyed by her at that point that I think was a bit overly sensitive so far as that first comment is concerned. I do, however, still think her calling him a wild man is questionable. Also, I think a lot of that discomfort I felt had to do with the fact that, even though she's in the Amazon, the guy she happens to meet is half-white. It bothers me that the love interest couldn't actually be fully of a different race. I felt like had he not been half-white, she would not have been interested at all.

I know a good number of people who did enjoy this, and some that felt as I did. I hope you enjoy!

Posted on Feb 19, 2014 3:32:19 AM PST
Meme says:
Thank you for sparing me the torture of buying this book then finding I can't read it! The animal torturing is enough for me, I just don't understand why authors do this. Thank you again.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2014 3:53:13 AM PST
Estarianne says:
I am interested to know what racism is, if not stereotypical beliefs of other people held in ignorance.

I appreciate this review. I was considering buying this book for daughter, but she would find all of these things annoying too!

Posted on Feb 19, 2014 8:42:18 AM PST
Thanks for the warning about animal torture under the guise of scientific testing. I can't and won't read anything with that kind of writing, as it gives me nightmares. It was an "open and shut" decision for me, so thank you.

Posted on Feb 19, 2014 8:58:39 AM PST
J. A. says:
Thank you for such a thorough review. So often people rave about a book without giving any details because they don't want to give Spoilers. Personally, I prefer Spoilers as that is when I can find out if what another person loves or hates about a book is something I typically have issues with. In this case, animal torture and obnoxious heroines rank up near the top of my "avoid this book" list, so I appreciate the specific examples you gave in your review.
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