Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Origin (Jessica Khoury)

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 394
Rating: 4/5

Pia has been secretly raised by a group of scientists hidden in the Amazon rain forest to be the first of an immortal race. She longs to join the scientists and fulfill her destiny, but she’s also curious about the outside world that’s been hidden from her. On the night of her seventeenth birthday, she sneaks out of the compound and meets Eio, a native who will change Pia’s life forever.

In a new wave of YA fiction (this Publisher’s Weekly article calls them mash-ups), this book is a hybrid of a couple different things.  It’s almost a dystopian that could be, as the scientists try to create a perfect race of people. They call Pia perfect as often as they can, and the Pia we meet at the beginning of the novel is a bit annoying because of it. She’s the gem of the scientist’s compound, and has been spoiled and taught to think highly of herself. Pia thinks she knows everything because she’s endlessly studied science and math, and that’s what the scientists value.

But then her curiosity gets the better of her and she ventures into the unknown. She realizes how little she really knows about the world around her, and suddenly, curiosity (and an attractive local boy) humbles her, and she becomes a much more likable character. Like the main characters of many YA dystopians, Pia must decide whether to be a perfect and safe bird in a class cage, or to give up everything for freedom and a chance to fly.

I liked the moral questions this novel brought up. What is right? The perfection of science or imperfect arts? Should you be who you want to be, or what everyone needs you to be? Origin takes the coming of age story to a whole different level, and it’s one you’ll most likely enjoy. 

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