Origin by Jessica Khoury
Series: Origin #1
Published by Razorbill on September 4 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: 0/5 stars (DNF)
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.
I was only able to read 124 pages (31%) of this book before I had to call it quits. In the first hundred pages alone, there’s animal torture, racism, and sexism, the problematic elements of which are completely ignored within the narrative. To be completely honest, I’m kind of disgusted.
But no, I actually think racism is worse than animal cruelty in many ways. I’ve actually taken classes on both (taught by the same professor, strangely). I have a low tolerance for either, and even though sexism is abundant in fiction, even in YA where there is a much higher percentage of female authors and main characters, I have very little patience for it.
The real downer in this book, if you can get past some of the infuriating content (which I couldn’t), is the main character. Pia is a little snot. She is incredibly self-obsessed, which makes sense considering her upbringing but doesn’t make her any more sympathetic or relatable. She’s a pompous jerk who has been told since birth that she’s “perfect,” and she wholeheartedly believes it. She has also been shut off from pretty much everything in the world – she has been sequestered in a compound all her life among scientists who are forbidden to discuss the world beyond their enclosure. This leads to another frustration that I had with the book: Pia reacts to new things and people and experiences not with wonder and curiosity but with scrutiny and judgement. She believes herself to be better than everyone and parrots the colonialist attitudes of her “aunts and uncles” (the scientists who have raised her).
The few merits this book has (which I honestly can’t even place at the moment) are greatly outweighed by the myriad ways it offends and irritates me in turn. I had planned on reading at least half in order to form an informed opinion, but I fear that it will just go downhill from here. I don’t care to waste my time on books I don’t enjoy.
I’d also like to note that while the book has many racist themes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I think Jessica Khoury is a racist. I don’t want to get into a whole discussion on racist as an identity versus racist acts and words, but I just want to make sure nobody thinks that I’m targeting Khoury. I’m sure she’s a wonderful person, but she has written a book that, in my opinion, is a testament to colonialist ideals and racism.
Have you read Origin? Any of Khoury's other books? Tell me what you thought in the comments.