Book Review of Origin by Jessica Khoury

Posted August 17, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
Pages: 372
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 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. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost.

Review: I had been looking forward to reading Origin since I heard about it last year some time. The premise sounded original and really entertaining. And you know what? It truly was. I didn’t end up caring for this book very much, but it does have some good things to offer, and I’m going to get those out of the way first.

I can tell that Jessica Khoury did lots of research and did it well. She nailed the flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forest and made it come alive. The book was atmospheric and the setting is not one you encounter often. That part of the book was truly a pleasure to read. It was easy to get lost in the book and feel like you were really there with the characters. The beautiful prose helped as well. The thing is, I would have gotten lost in the book even more if I had actually liked the characters and subject matter.

I liked ONE character in this book. And the Jaguar. That was it. Pia was unlikable to me. She was naive, weak, and as someone who was supposed to be immortal, I found her pretty pathetic. Eio made a misogynistic statement early on that really pissed me off, and once that happened, there was no redeeming himself (see my Goodreads status update for the comment). Though I do not think he was a bad person, he did nothing for me as a love interest. I didn’t believe in the chemistry between Eio and Pia, and I really wish they had remained friends. They were only together for a few scenes before it was true love. I wouldn’t call it instalove, but it was pretty damn close. Does there HAVE to be a romance in every young adult book? That’s why I enjoy reading YA by male authors sometimes. They usually focus on the story and less on the romance, if there even is one. 

I also had issues with some of the dialogue. Some of it felt unnatural and really clunky. It wasn’t that bad, I just had issues with everyone being SO SERIOUS all the time. Everyone spoke in perfect English, there was never any slang, and I just felt like the characters (except one) were all cardboard cutouts. I was just very underwhelmed. There was no one to root for. Hard to explain, and I know some are enjoying this book, so it could totally be me.

I mentioned in my status updates that I would not read this book if you are an animal lover. I still stand by that statement. You will be horrified. There are several scenes of animal torture and testing in Origin. One is in the opening pages, there is one in the middle, and then towards the end, there is one so bad I ended up sobbing and having to skip over most of it. Don’t do it to yourself. They were REALLY hard for me to read. And though I understand why they were included in the story, I found them to be too much. Too graphic. And almost as if they were just added for shock value.

To top everything all off, I was pretty unimpressed by the ending. I agree with the way the author wrapped things up, I just found the writing and style anticlimactic. I did feel the ending was a little too tidy, though I am not sure there was another way to end it. It was pretty predictable and a little too happy for me. I saw it coming. Sometimes the bittersweet is better. It’s not all happily ever after, but most of it is. 

Ultimately, I was just really unimpressed with this book. I’ll be honest, I was expecting a lot, and it just did not live up to the hype. Definitely readable and I made it to the end, but it’s not one I can recommend. Though it is getting mixed reviews, so you may want to try it if you are okay with the things I mentioned. I will definitely try this author in the future. She can write, but this book didn’t do anything for me.

16 responses to “Book Review of Origin by Jessica Khoury

  1. Amy

    Hmm flat characters and animal torture…doesn’t sound like something I would like very much. I have been really looking forward to this book, but I think I will wait to see more reviews about it before I decide if I really want to read it or not. Sorry that it didn’t work for you.

  2. boooo Nothing worse that underdeveloped characters. I think the dialogue would really grate on me in this one. Such a bummer too because I was totally looking forward to this one. I’ll be bumping it down my TBR for sure. Great review!

    • Ehhh, you should still read it if you want to. I hate people being influenced not to read books from my reviews. I know you’ll read it eventually and I can’t wait to see what you think.

  3. Wonderful review, Kara! I felt the same way about this novel and was disappointed that I simply couldn’t connect with the characters. I really admired Khoury for the amount of research and obvious dedication she put into this book, but Pia and Eio’s romance was so flat for me and even their characterization, was, as you mentioned, very underdeveloped. I reviewed this last week I think and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who wasn’t “wow”-ed by this novel! 😀

    Ivy Book Bindings

    • OH! I am so glad I am not alone on this one. I did not care for the characters much at all. And I agree with you about the research. She did a really great job with the setting. But that was not enough for me to love it. Thanks for leaving this comment because I feel a lot better now about the way this book made me feel.

  4. KM

    I’ve read some negative stuff about this one, and I’m disappointed. I would have read it immediately when it came in the mail, but I’m sort of holding back on it now. :-/

  5. I remember your updates as you were reading this and I’d pretty much decided this was not for me. I’m really not a big fan of animal cruelty in books for no purpose, I think it just gives bad people horrible ideas. I think you might be right about the shock factor.

    Thanks for being so honest, this is one I’ll be skipping as the rest sounds a bit blah.

    • I wish I had known about the animal cruelty beforehand. I wouldn’t have even requested this one. After the first scene, another blogger told me there would be more, but since I was already reading I figured I would go ahead and finish. Thanks for stopping by, Mandee. 🙂

  6. Y U no Lik dis boOOk? D:

    LOL, that was a sad pathetic attempt at trolling. I’ll still to my job reviewing books.

    Sorry you didn’t love Origin as much as I did, Kara! I can definitely see why you didn’t like it. The animal cruelty did bother me too. Somehow this book still managed to fascinate me.

    • I totally understand, Steph! I can be objective enough to get why people love this one. It just really rubbed me the wrong way. The whole animal testing thing just seriously nauseates me. Totally a me thing.

      That being said, I’m totally gonna read the next thing this author writes. I think she’s pretty talented as far as writing skill goes.

  7. I still definitely want to give this book a shot because it has such a unique concept! It worries me that you can’t connect with the characters, though. At the same time, if she knows how to write, she can certainly improve!

    Thanks for the honest review and fingers crossed I somehow obtain an ARC of this book haha

    • She certainly can improve. I just think she needs to work on character development more. It’s not that they were terrible, they just weren’t very likable. And that was an issue for me because I wasn’t really feeling the plot either.

      Anyway, I hope you enjoy it better than I did.

  8. I agree with everything you’ve said. The animals were my favorite characters, which definitely made the whole torture aspect 85,000 times more awful. I mean, the rat that just sat in his cage seemed to have more personality than most of the people.

    Which character is it that you liked? Is it a secret?

    The romance and the conversations between Pia and Eio made me want to headdesk until brain matter came out. The writing really didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t awful, but I wasn’t impressed. Even the scenery didn’t come alive for me. Boo.

    • Yes, I loved the rat too. Bartholomew, wasn’t it? Ridiculous what was done to the animals in this book. I hope I never read anything that graphic ever again.

      And yeah, I pretty much feel the same way you did about the relationship too. Just flat, unlikable characters. If a reader doesn’t even like the way characters are written, romance is certainly going to be unbelievable.

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