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on September 21, 2015
Just wow.... a very interesting plot with characters I fell for and fought for over and over again.

I went into this book not really knowing a lot about the plot. I got to see Jessica Khoury at the 2012 Teen Book Festival in Austin, TX and heard about the book then for the first time. I listened to her talk about the book on more than one panal that day and I was interested but ending up not buying the book that weekend. On a personal recommendation from a friend to picked it up finally and I'm so glad that I did.

Jessica Khoury has such a beautiful way of telling a story and I found myself highlighting PARAGRAPHS at a time! I love how she writes, and I love how she tells a mystery. She only allows the reader to learn a little bit at a time but as your learn part of Pia's story, you learn about who she is and why she does things that she does.

Vague spoilers below... read with caution.
The plot to this story was so different and interesting and I found myself rooting for Pia to break the rules and to follow Eio into the jungle through the whole book. I found myself weary of what was happening in Little Cam and though I didn't know all the details, I found it hard to trust Pia's mother and all her so-called 'Uncles'. The story kept me guessing the whole time, while enticing me with answering some of my questions little by little.

Once I finally found out the truth about everything later in the book, I was glad that I didn't feel completely betrayed and I was glad that my suspicions had been right! That made me feel good and makes me want to recommend this book to EVERYONE I know!
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on August 15, 2015
This book was so well written, so well paced, that I totally forgot I was reading a YA novel.

What adjective could I use to review it, and still do the book justice? There isn't just one.

Beautiful. Allegorical. Straight forward. Multi-layered. Dystopian. Relevant. Poetic at times. Harsh at other times. Descriptive. Story driven. Philosophical. Down to earth. Faithful to the best, and worst, of our human nature. Thoroughly and utterly satisfying.

All at the same time.

The main protagonist might be teenaged in years, but the story as an allegory is universal for all ages.

Pia, genetically engineered to be perfectly immortal, has lived her seventeen years in a small scientific compound hidden in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Surrounded by the team of scientists who created her, she's been conditioned to devalue all emotional thought, and rely on pure scientific reason.

She knows virtually nothing of the outside world--its philosophies, literature, religions, music-- and has been exclusively trained in the sciences. Having been told her whole life that she is the "perfect one", which in itself sets her apart, she lives alone in her uniqueness. She's never known the company of other people her own age, and carries the weight of being the only one in her world who'll live forever.

Her goal: Pass the tests so she can learn the secrets behind her creation, and become a part of the scientific team that will create other immortals like her.

All is going according to plan until, one day, an impulse to discover the jungle outside her perimeter drives her to sneak out. It only takes a few steps into the unknown for an outside influence to enter her world: A boy her own age, who comes from the jungle.

Her seemingly perfect world begins to unravel as polar opposites clash. Her social conditioning of intellectual reason versus biological attraction. The safe sterility of her compound versus the wild call of the jungle. Her seemingly straightforward goal soon takes a sinister turn as secrets are revealed. How was Pia really created? Is she a real person? Or a numbered specimen? Where does the greater good lie? And at what cost?

Ms Khoury is adept at interweaving those opposites in a way that kept me reading, page after page, and never once dropping out of the story due to bad sentence structure, untrue dialogue, or overly wrought description.

I could nit pick, and say the love story between Pia and the Native boy, Eio, escalates too quickly.

Yet, when the story was all said and done, my first thought was, "Wow, that was a good read."

WARNING: If the idea of a genetically engineered immortal attracts you as a story's protagonist, but you're looking for a Marvel Comics approach to story telling with short sentences and lots of bang-bang-'em-up scenes where other equally enhanced people fight it out right from the beginning, then this might not be the book you're looking for. Wait until you're ready to read a story that sets the stage, and then unfolds with well turned sentences that will delight a reader of literary fiction.
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on December 9, 2015
Origin is a book about a girl named Pia, who is immortal. She lives as a science experiment in Little Cam, where the scientists fawn over
her saying she’s perfect. Pia wants to continue her “race” of immortals and to do that she needs to become a scientist. So Pia is about to
become a scientist and have a happily ever after, until her birthday, where she goes into the jungle and meets Eio, the first boy she has ever met and apparently the boy of her dreams. Lots of other events happen, of course, but if I mention anything else it will REALLY spoil the book. But, Overall, I would give Origin a 3 out of 5 star rating.

The way the book is written is okay, but it feels as though something is lacking. When the author describes the rainforest, I feel bored with all of the descriptions and lost because I cannot connect the descriptions to something that I have encountered, as I have never been to the rainforest. For people who like sci-fi books but are not into actual science or actual scientific facts, this book is not for you. It relies too much on scientific jargon so that people without previous scientific knowledge or people that don’t remember what they learned in high school won’t understand or enjoy this book. I did, however, like that the book started out dark, when the main character, Pia, tortures a bird because she thinks the scientists will accept her if she does this. I like books with a psychological side and at the beginning, this book shows it. But as it goes on, as I previously mentioned with the scientific jargon and rainforest descriptions, you start to lose interest and it mellows out on the psychological side, which is good for people who don’t usually read dark books or horror, but for me it was a let down because I thought that with such a great and compelling beginning, it could only get better. Boy was I wrong.

At first, I was okay with Pia’s cluelessness on the workings of the world and her lack of knowledge outside of her bubble called Little Cam. But then she goes around saying she’s perfect all of the time (mainly because she is an immortal science experiment and the scientists dote on her), and she refers to her misbehaving self as “wild Pia”, like when she says, “I thought I left my wild self in the jungle or at least appeased her appetite for a time”, which gets annoying when repeated so often (Khoury 100). The majority of the characters are well developed and are shown often enough in the book. But some of the events in the book are predictable and don’t really add anything to the plot. I don’t like the fact that Pia (SPOILER ALERT)

falls for the first boy her age that she meets, because that is so predictable, and that she becomes mortal at the end so she can live with Eio, the boy mentioned previously, and live happily ever after.
(Spoiler over)

But even though it wasn’t a surprise that (SPOILER ALERT)

Paulo is basically psychotic and didn’t really care about Pia as she thought he did, I didn’t really mind that Paulo came off as predictable because later in the book you see how psychotic he really is and it’s a lot more intense than you first thought it was at a glance.
(It’s over)

Overall, if you don’t mind long, boring rainforest descriptions and LOTS of scientific references and jokes, I would recommend this book to you. If not, then don’t read this book. It’s as simple as that. (Also, if you can’t bear to read about an animal or person dying or “mad” scientists, don’t read this book.)
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VINE VOICEon December 5, 2012
The question is as old as time: what makes us human as opposed to animal? How have we become an elevated species? Have we accepted that responsibility with grace? In Jessica Khoury's novel Origin, we have the opportunity to explore a new immortal species and the humanity (or lack thereof) that created it.

Pia has always lived in Little Cam, a highly secret scientific community hidden deep in the Amazon Rain Forest. She was created there. Pia is the result of a discovery of a deadly but uniquely manipulated flower and a century's worth of experimentation. Scientists were able to incorporate the flower's nectar into a serum that over generations made the test subjects more and more "perfect" and eventually resulted in the perfect human being- the immortal Pia. Even her skin is impenetrable. But Pia still faces dangers. In the rain forest she could be swallowed by an anaconda and spend her immortality inside its belly, but on a larger scale, her very existence is dangerous. People would kill to get their hands on Pia and study her.

The scientists aren't allowed to let Pia know anything about the outside world, but a girl trapped in a compound is bound to overhear information. Intensely curious about the outside world, Pia jumps on a chance to escape when a tree uproots and creates an opening in the otherwise electrified and fatal fence. Dashing through the jungle, she encounters a young native boy names Eio. Eio is everything she never knew she wanted. He is strong willed and strong in body. He is intrigued by Pia, and despite her brief visit, they can't stop thinking about one another. She knows she will be in trouble if the scientists know she found a way out, but she must see more of Eio. In her frequent visits, Pia begins to learn the scientists hid more from her than just knowledge of the outside world. When she finally learns the secret of how she was created, Pia isn't sure she can become one of them, even if her immortal life will be without a perfect, immortal mate. Because, after all, not all wonderful things are immortal... like Eio, for instance!

This was such an interesting and intriguing novel. It had all the elements you would imagine in a "created" human (think Frankenstein), but it also had so much more, like love and teenage affections. I loved how Pia was sheltered, but certainly not naive. She struggled with acceptance that the people she referred to as Uncle and Aunt were in fact cold, heartless, ruthless people, but she wasn't naive. It was a truly remarkable transformation to see her from the first time she escaped to her final experiences with scientists. This is a story that raises so many emotional and ethical questions that you could spend weeks discussing it with your students.

The writing is very clean and appropriate for a wide range of ages. I think a younger student would miss some of the more subtle or more mature concepts, such as science vs. morality and the ethics of the means justifying the end, but they will still enjoy the story. There is enough in here for a large variety of people. I am interested to see what Khoury does next, because this stand-alone novel was pretty powerful! And you will have to ask yourself, what would you sacrifice to stop your family from aging?
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on October 23, 2012
Origin is an intelligently-written story about immortality, and the price that must be paid for it. The first half is extremely slow-moving and I actually put it down a number of times, impatient with its snail's pace. The second half of the story moves faster until near the end where it gathers momentum, almost as if Khoury realizes that she has to fit everything in before the end. Pia, the immortal girl, is at first spoiled, pampered and childlike, due to her sheltered upbringing in a hidden research facility deep in the heart of the Amazon. When she meets Eio, a tribal boy, her life begins to change, but they have barely known each other a week before he declares his undying love for her. This is where Origin reminds me of so much YA fiction...the insta-love. Why do they all do that? Fall madly in love each other within days?
Anyway, I found parts of the story unrealistic. Pia's mother for instance, who had not a trace of maternal instinct, didn't ring true for me. Even if she was a scientist, she was still a mother. There had to be some redeeming quality in her that made her human, right? Nope! She became, like everyone else there, save for two scientists, caricatures of people. Even scientists who devote their lives to their scientific causes are still human. Not these people. They were barely human, and that did not ring true for me. It pulled me out of the story, so that I felt a disconnect between myself and the main characters.
What was thought-provoking about the book, was the questions Khoury raised about immortality. The scenario she painted of a future filled with immortals, people living forever, was chilling, down to the bone. It is worth reading for these questions alone, even if the characters were not fully realized for me. By the end of the book I still couldn't understand how Pia and Eio could be so in love with each other. They'd only met a handful of times. Liked it enough, but did not love it.
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on March 26, 2015
Very creative story! In an Amazonian jungle, Pia strives in her studies in preparation of becoming a scientist. Her life is very structured and rigid and since it's all she's ever known, she loves it. However, changes take place on the compound and Pia slowly begins to realize that her dream is not the only option in the world. As Pia discovers more about the world outside the compound, she discovers that all is not as it seems.
The author has created a wonderful adventure full of suspense that will keep you guessing as to what the deep dark secrets of the jungle and the compound contain. The tale has adventure, love and is creatively written.
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on October 18, 2017
This book is fantasy/science fiction. It has a good premise, plot, & characters. There are lots of things in the book that call for some deep thinking. I read this for my book club, but had to miss the meeting when this book was discussed. I regret not being there because there’s lots to ponder and talk about.
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on October 10, 2012
An original story with a plot that you think you can figure out, but it blindsides you when you think you know what's coming next. The quest for immortality, how much should one be willing to give or do to attain it? Should it be attained atty all? These are the underlying questions of this amazing novel, at least in my opinion.

Pia's journey to discover the answers to these questions is a trying one to say the least. Lies, truth, love, hate, trust, betrayal. Pia must deal them all to uncover the truth, but when she finds the answers she so desires, will they be worth all she went through to get them?

A well-written, beautifully crafted story chock full of lovable as well hate-worthy characters. The setting is gorgeous, the inhabitants believable. Jessica hit the mark with Origin. Beginners luck? I think not. Be on the lookout for this author.
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on May 9, 2017
This book was a good read! I enjoyed reading about Pia's transformation and watching her relationship with Eio grow. The concept of the book was interesting and I enjoyed reading about the natives and the scientists. I'm excited to dive into the next installment!
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on September 24, 2012
What I Liked: 1) First and foremost I liked the details. It was so easily to get lost in the jungle with Pia and Co because of how detailed the descriptions were. I seriously wanted to know if Miz Khoury was just sitting in the jungle describing what she saw because it seemed so accurate. At the same time, I didn't feel like there were too many details. You know what I mean, where every other word is an adjective? It was perfectly balanced on that line, and put you firmly in this vivid world. 2) Pia. Pia was an awesome character to get to know. Her development was very easy to follow, particularly because when you come into the story, she's really just begun to understand that she can develop her own thoughts and opinions, and not just fall subject to the scientists that are "raising" her. And you'll have to read it to find out why "raising" is in quotes. 3) The unexpected. There were some great plot twists in this book, but I didn't see any of them coming. Even of the mysteries that I knew Pia (and I) were working to solve didn't present very clear answers until I was right up on them. There was a new discovery to make on every page, so I was hooked from the very beginning. 4) The concept. Immortality is a topic that I think is broached in a lot of stories, but in so many different ways. This one takes a very scientific approach, but not in a way that is hard to understand. The summary of this book from Goodreads is pretty good, but the story is so much more than what you get there!

What I Didn't Like: This book pulled me out of a slump I've been in for a while. I was just kind of coasting through stuff, but this one just got me really excited. And I didn't find anything that I didn't like.

Overall Thoughts: Origin is a new kind of story with vivid details, loveable characters, and a completely unique concept that anyone will enjoy. There are exciting plot events on each page, and the ending will leave you very satisfied. I'm already ready to dive into this book again!
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