Saturday, August 4, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Pia has grown up isolated in the scientific compound of Little Cam in the middle of a jungle.  Pia is immortal, the product of the scientists research.  All Pia wants is to be able to join the Immortis team and help to create other like herself.  But when Pia has a chance to explore the jungle and meets a boy named Eio, she begins to wonder what else is out there in the world she doesn't know about.  And then she learns that the Immortis project has a dark side she never imagined.

This essentially was a supernatural romance, but we've replaced the supernatural part with science fiction.  Well, sort of science.  Pia will never age past 20, her skin is impenetrable and she isn't susceptible to any diseases.  I had questions about this, like "can she drown?"  "It's not so much that she's immortal, but that her aging process is in stasis."  "Am I thinking too hard about the science part of this?"  Anyway, Pia has never been outside the fence and then she gets outside the fence and guess who the first person is she bumps into?  A beautiful boy she feels drawn too.

I actually did enjoy this, and it was way better and more interesting then most of the supernatural romances I've read lately.  I liked Pia.  She's only studied math and science.  She has no idea what's outside in the world, or even the names of other places in the world.  She's been told it isn't safe out there, and that people won't understand her.  No one in the compound is supposed to talk about anything in the outside world with Pia around.  She is the only person her age.  All she ever wanted was to create others like herself so she won't be alone for all eternity, and she does whatever necessary to become a scientist on the team, even taking a series of tests she doesn't understand, which mostly involve torturing or killing animals in some way.  Although it's all in the name of science, Pia feels like something isn't right.

I did like that Pia wasn't immediately ready to throw away the only world she ever knew for Eio.  That just wouldn't have been realistic.  Pia is incredibly confused and overwhelmed with being outside the compound and being exposed to so many new things and people.  See a map of the world blows her mind.  Eio tries to convince her to runaway with him, but Pia isn't ready to give up on her chance of creating someone who understands her.

Eio wasn't much of a character.  He was the male equivalent of a manic pixie dream girl.  He was there.  He was exotic and different.  He was beautiful.  He helped Pia to discover things she never dreamed of.  He had no personality or identity of his own and he was totally uninteresting and uninspiring.

The books stuck to realism pretty much the whole way through, but then the end where we discover the deep dark secret of immortality it went into a fantasy place.  It was still all being explained as "science," but it was hardly holding together.

Still, an enjoyable read, and I know the high school girls at my school will like this one.  Good combination of a smart capable female protagonist and a swoony romance.

Origin comes out September 4, 2012.

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