Author: Jessica Khoury
September 4th 2012 by Razorbill
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 ofLost.
We are so happy to have Jessica Khoury here on the blog today on the day her debut YA novel, Origin, officially hit the shelves! Origin is the amazing story of Pia, a girl made in a secret lab far in the rain forest of the Amazon. She has all the best qualities a human could ask for or ever want because the scientist have genetically made her that way through selective breeding and working with DNA of the previous generations. There's also a mysterious Amazonian plant with questionable scientific properties thrown in there as well. Pia has spent here entire life in this compound in the Amazon. She knows only the people living at the lab because they have to sign up for a 30 commitment when the sign on to work. This is Pia's life until one day she sneaks out and meets a local boy, Eio, who helps her discover that being "perfect" is not everything she thought is was. Turns out her perfection comes with a price, and this is not a price Pia is willing to pay. I enjoyed everything about Origin, the science, the romance, the drama, and especially the mystery and suspense. I like how even though Pia has been told all her life she is perfect, she comes to realize having that conceit is itself an imperfection. Pia is great character who goes through a great maturing process and learns a great deal about herself and her world during the book.
ORIGIN excerpt:“Roosevelt was born in 1904.” She nearly drops him, and he squeals indignantly. “You’re lying!” “I certainly am not. Roosevelt is over a hundred years old. Most rats don’t live more than two or three.” (Origin, page 36)
ORIGIN excerpt: “Dr. Falk returned to the outside and found thirty-two of the most healthy, athletic, brilliant, and beautiful young people society had to offer.” (Origin, page 37)
Thoughts from Jessica: If I were the objective scientists, and I were creating an immortal race, health, athleticism, intelligence, and beauty are qualities I’d have looked for, too. But speaking as me, I don’t think these physical attributes are all there is to being a person and I don’t think our personalities are completely defined by our genes. These criteria were often used by scientists involved in the eugenics movement of the early 1900s (an historical movement from which fictional Little Cam was born). In countries like Switzerland, they actually forbade people with mental illness from marrying, and even went so far as to sterilize people who didn't fit their idea of an “ideal” person. Scary stuff! By relying on reason without emotion, the scientists overlook aspects which are more important than health, athleticism, etc. and which cannot be passed on through genetic code: things like compassion, generosity, loyalty, and integrity. It is better to be good than it is to be beautiful.
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