Review: Origin

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: OriginOrigin by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 394
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Goodreads
half-star

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home―and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin―a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

First Sentence: “I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, ‘She is perfect.'”

Review:
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.

Favorite Quote:

“‘That was a long, long time ago. And who knows if it’s even true? But we started somewhere didn’t we? There must have been a first people at some point in time. Which means that everyone on earth is descended from them and that, in a way, we’re all connected, because in the beginning we were one people. One tribe.’ He looks at me sidelong and smiles. ‘So you see, we’re really not that different after all.'”

22 responses to “Review: Origin”

  1. Adriana says:

    Wild Pia lol. Wow, I can just feel your hatred towards her. She does sound like a brat in the quotes.

    More than anything I hate in books is when a guy talks down to a woman so I wouldn’t have liked that and like with Hurt Go Happy I don’t appreciate reading animal cruelty. Thanks for the warning and review.

    • Christina says:

      She did get better as the book went along, but what stuck with me was how awful she was at the start. Reminded me a lot of the MC from The Wicked and the Just.

      Yeah, many cute creatures are killed or injured. Those scenes did have the most emotional impact on me, but I didn’t like it.

  2. Lisa Cox says:

    Thanks for the warning about the animal cruelty in this book. Just by reading the blurb, I was rather excited about it too. Now, about the only way I would read it would be if someone gave me the book. Then I would kinda feel obligated to at least try and get through it.

    • Christina says:

      I’ve always liked animals more than people, so when a person dies in a book, I’m like oh well. An animal dies and I sob forever. For readers who are less sensitive to that, this will be a much better book.

  3. aLilLacey says:

    Bah! Glad you warned about the animal torture. I can’t handle anything torture. Yuck. Definitely not a book for me. Thanks for being brave and reading through the book and for the thorough review.

  4. KM says:

    I’m sad you didn’t like this one. I can handle the animal and sexism stuff because those both seem relatively tame (from your descriptions, anyway), but the racial prejudice was pretty obvious. I mean, I can understand it if she’s as spoiled and ignorant as she’s supposed to be in the book; maybe she’ll drop some of that as the series progresses? I hope so anyway. Crossing my fingers I’ll like this one more than you did…you know, since we’re trading for it. lol

    • Christina says:

      KM, we don’t have quite the same taste in books, so I think there’s still a chance you’ll really like it. I mean, yeah, she’s really spoiled and obnoxious at the beginning, but she does improve. I just couldn’t forgive her for what happened earlier on. I really don’t think ever reader will have the same reaction. You could still really like it! I’ll be curious to see what you think!

  5. I haven’t read this one yet and now I’m scared to!

    What’s with authors creating these romances where the girl falls in love with the ONLY BOY IN HER WORLD. The first boy she meets and the heroine and vowing to live her entire life for him. This is really driving me crazy and I’m scared about teen readers having this theme pounded into their heads with book after book of this nonsense. dfksjdfljksdf

    • Christina says:

      Wah wah. You might like it better. Who knows!?! I don’t know anyone with precisely the same taste in books that I have so…*shrug*

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of that either. I mean, Eio seems like he’ll be a pretty nice guy once he’s trained out of believing that women need men to tell them what to do, but how can you know if it’s real love if you have nothing to compare him to. *shakes head*

  6. Oh no, so sorry that this one wasn’t good. I was excited to read it now a little unsure. I will go in with open eyes if I do.
    Thanks for the honest review,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  7. fakesteph says:

    I’m reading this soon so I’m disappointed you didn’t like it. I totally get your points. Ah man.

    • Christina says:

      Sorry, dude! It does turn around a little bit in the second half, so if you’re prepared and focus on that, it might be better for you than it was for me.

  8. Lilian says:

    ‘ He thinks I’m a woman. I stand a little taller. ‘Well, all right. If you want.'”‘
    *squirts milk again*
    It’s not so much the misogyny that bothers me as much as the absurdity of her response. Just say stuff in a firmer tone, and she’ll change her mind~ How easy it must be to win an argument with her.
    But then again, she’s been living in a forest for all these years that she acts awkwardly.

    I think Pia is hilarious. But not in a good way. And she sounds like a stupid bitch to be honest.

    And damn, I was looking forward to this one.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t believe that whole scene. I mean, I’ve just sat through a bunch of stuff where she bosses around everyone but Paolo, and then this guy tells her she looks like a girl, something she already knows and she’ll do what he says. *facepalm* Then again, he called her ugly first, which she’d never heard before, so she was putty in his palms. Seriously, men, be mean to a lady and she’ll do anything for you to be nice to her again. Sigh.

    • Lilian says:

      *sigh*
      I hope it’s actually part of her secret plan to make the guy fall in love with her so she can dump him like a sack of potatoes. And then shatter his heart in a million pieces.
      That would make a pretty awesome story in my opinion.

      yes, I am evil. *cackles*

    • Christina says:

      That MIGHT be what happens. Maybe.

      Have you seen John Tucker Must Die? I think you might like it.

  9. Kat Balcombe says:

    ”Perfect Pia is, in my opinion, a perfectly pretentious prat” *falls off chair laughing*.

    I can’t STAND these type of characters – they’re almost as bad as the ones that spend the whole book doubting themselves (5 points if you know which book I’m referring to here).

    I can deal with some pretty disturbing subject matter, but animal cruelty scenes right at the beginning of a book is more than I can take.

    • Christina says:

      Yay! I got people to laugh! Woo!

      Are you referring to half of the YA books published? Because you could be. Most recently, Goddess Interrupted that I know we both read. Or Twilight. Or…really anything.

      Right? I’d been warned about that one thank goodness, but WAHHHHH!

  10. Kayla Beck says:

    I was a bit intrigued by the book, but I’ll be passing now. Thank you so much for sharing the animal cruelty! I would have been pissed if I had bought the book and read that. I don’t watch movies or read books with it, if possible. *shudders*

    Also, I think I would have probably hated Pia as much as you do. She sounds like a huge turd.

    • Christina says:

      Wah wah. I’m sure Penguin is THRILLED I read and reviewed this one I took from BEA. Almost everyone who’s read this review now doesn’t want to read it. Oh well, I’m not marketing.

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