Origin by Jessica Khoury

Origin by Jessica Khoury coverAll Pia has ever known is the compound deep in the Amazon jungle where she has lived since she was born. Surrounded by scientists she calls Aunt and Uncle, she knows nothing of the outside world, except this: If she goes out there, the world will not understand her. You see, Pia is very special: she is immortal. No blade can pierce her skin, she does not get tired, and she is a genius. She is being groomed by her Uncle Paolo to lead the Immortis team, and eventually create more Immortals who will rule the world. Pia shares the same dream as her Uncle, and everything is going according to plan…until one night she sees a hole in the fence.

Pia sneaks out of the compound with her pet jaguar Alai and goes exploring. She quickly runs into Eio, a native boy who is the same age as her. Eio lives in the nearby village with the rest of his people, the Ai’oan. Eio is special as well. His father is not Ai’oan, he is one of the scientists from Little Cam, who snuck out and fell in love with Eio’s mother. Eio knows a lot about Little Cam, the compound where he insists Pia is a prisoner, and he makes it his job to change Pia’s opinion about her life there and the people who work there.

Between meeting Eio and learning about the outside world, and meeting the new scientist Harriet Fields who doesn’t agree that Pia should be kept so isolated from the outside world, Pia begins to question the things that are happening inside Little Cam. While exploring with Aunt Harriet, Pia stumbles on Lab B, which she was told was destroyed in a fire. Instead, Pia finds chains and prison cells. As she sneaks out and grows more comfortable with Eio, he introduces her to the Elders in his village. They tell her stories of their ancestors who were immortals like her. Armed with this new information, and beginning to see a different side of the only home she’s known, Pia is forced to question who she is and what she really wants to do with her life. She may not like the answers she finds.

I don’t usually read science fiction and I have never read a book like this before. I was pleasantly surprised. I thought Pia was a well-developed character, who was surprisingly easy to relate to. You wouldn’t think it would be easy to relate to a 17-year-old-genius-immortal, but the way Jessica Khoury wrote her you could easily connect with her, which was great. The way Pia discovered things about the place she lived and the people she knew her whole life and the internal struggle this led to really made you feel for her. When she meets Eio, it is instantly clear they are going to fall desperately in love. Eio was another great character, an outsider like Pia, but one who has learned to be comfortable with who he is and can teach Pia to be comfortable in her own indestructible skin as well, a lesson none of the scientists thought to teach her. As the evil of Little Cam becomes more evident to Pia, it is thoughts of Eio and what he has taught her that help her make the decisions that keep her “good” instead of going evil like the rest of the people around her.

This book was quite the page-turner. Some parts were a little predictable, but some parts were big surprises, which was cool. It was nice to read a stand-alone novel for a change too, since I typically read book that are part of a series and have cliffhanger endings. So nice to read a book that actually ends. And this was a good ending too, and not what I expected. Overall, this book was a great read and I recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction, adventure, with some mystery thrown in the mix.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

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