Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

The Female Of The Species Is More Deadlier Than The Male

A review of Jessica Khoury's Origin. What is the price of being perfect?

The Female Of The Species Is More Deadlier Than The Male

BOOK REPORT for Origin by Jessica Khoury

Cover Story: SyFy-erific
BFF Charm: Almost
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Science, Yo
Bonus Factors: The Rainforest, Ancient Secrets
Anti-Bonus Factors: The White Man
Relationship Status: I had a nice time

Cover Story: SyFy-erific

This cover was not embarrassing to hang out with, and it reminds me of something I might see on the SyFy channel some time when I'm sick on the couch, watching tv ALL day long. That sounds nice.

The Deal:

Pia is perfect. Perfect in every way. She's beautiful, strong, smart, fast, and -- oh yeah -- immortal. Because the team of geneticists she calls "aunts" and "uncles" engineered her that way in their compound in the jungle -- with the help of the immortis plant, of course. The first of her kind, Pia is not only perfect, she's lonely. But that will all change when she can pass her final test and join the ranks of the scientists to make more immortals like herself.

But there's another part of Pia that wonders what's outside the walls of the enclosure she's spent her life in -- and that's a question that gets answered one night when she finds a hole in the fence and sneaks out. Besides the obvious, (it's a jungle out there! heyo!) Pia literally runs into a beautiful boy named Eio, from the Ai'oan village nearby. From Eio's blue blue eyes set in his caramel-y colored skin, it looks like there's been a scientist in the woodshed, if you know what I'm sayin'. But Eio is not immortal, and even as Pia learns about the legends of the Ai'oa, she wonders if there is anywhere she really belongs. Meanwhile, during the ever-increasing tests at the lab, Pia is faced with a significant quandary: science or morality.

BFF Charm: Almost

Did I mention Pia was perfect? God! Pia! Pia! Pia!

Heheh, just kidding. I felt for Pia, I really did. To be treated as an experiment, but also told how perfect you are every single day of your life isn't exactly giving a girl a leg up on how to win friends and influence people. And when she does get beyond the fence, her interactions are so awkward and stilted, you couldn't help but squint your eyes a little bit so you wouldn't have to see what was happening firsthand. But even though I was proud of her by the end of the book, I wasn't ready to declare BFF fealty to her. Because this is one of those YA books where I think the lead will appeal to actual YAs (And rightly so! Target audience, and all…) more than she will appeal to adult readers of YA. Or maybe that's just me.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I feel like the author really tried not to have Pia and Eio fall in insta-love, but there wasn't a whole lot of time in this story to allow them to gradually fall in love. However, what this book lacked in relationship progression, it made up for in lots of talk about abs. Although, the funny thing is, Pia sees Eio, and instantly knows he's beautiful. And I couldn't help but wonder, how could she know, really? I mean, she'd been locked inside a compound for 17 years!!! For all she knew, Eio could have pulled a Ruth to her Frederick, and convinced her that wrinkly and saggy was the way ALL the boys looked!!!

Talky Talk: Science, Yo

I feel like this book is a strong debut for this author. It has a lot going for it, but it has some troubles, too. I believe overall that it will appeal more to the target audience for which it was intended, but deserves a read from anyone who enjoys a good Sci-fi romp. I enjoyed the read even while I found myself annoyed with the characters, and the action sequence at the end was truly gripping.

Bonus Factor: The Rainforest

I once spent 8 weeks in the jungle of Brazil, and it was beautiful and terrifying and challenging and amazing. There are colors there that you think couldn't exist in nature. And it pours rain every day. But then the sun comes out and dries everything up. There are giant bugs and even more giant snakes, and amazing people who were incredibly kind to a bunch of kids from the U.S.

Bonus Factor: Ancient Secrets

Turns out plant that can give immortality is a part of the Ai'oans' history, and oh yeah, they've know the secret all along. Only they don't share that info with just any old white man.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The White Man

(I'll really use any excuse to make a Breaking Bad reference.)  Ah, the greedy scientist/explorer/what have you. They rape and pillage the land, take advantage of the kind (and naive, of course) Native People, essentially enslaving everything around them with their GUNS! But wait, there's always at least one white man who will stand with the Native People, saving them from the other white men! Ahem.  This is where things get tricky.  There is a line from Eio about how he is not ignorant (like the Ai'oans). I'm going to believe the author intended this to show how the perceptions of The White Man were wrong, which she obviously proved later in the story.  There is also the fact that despite her DNA, I would argue that Pia is technically as much a native of the jungle as the Ai'oa, which does put a new spin on things.  I mean, at least she's not just plugging into a sim machine with Ripley, and going off to save the Tree of Souls.

Casting Call:

Who can be really pretty but also convincingly annoying?  Nobody I can think of is better than this little liar:

Lucy Hale as Pia

And where is a database of Brazilian actors when you need it?!!!  Seriously!! I've seen a lot of Brazilians in my day, and they are a generally gorgeous lot.  We should be casting them in everything!  However, my search unearthed no one who fit, but Alix helped me out. 

Diego Boneta as Eio

Mr. Boneta is from Mexico, but he's the closest actor description-wise to Eio.

Relationship Status: I Had a Nice Time

This book and I met through friends, and while it's really cute, it's just too young for me. So while I definitely enjoyed hanging out with it, I can't in good conscience pursue a relationship with it. However, I do have one question I'd really like to ask it: WHAT ABOUT THE ANTS?!!!!!!!! That's all I've been able to think about since I finished it. WHERE ARE THOSE ANTS?!!!!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy of Origin from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Origin is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.