For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been fascinated with the idea of immortality. Dystopian novels are popular today with teens, and Jessica Khoury’s debut novel, Origin, combines the two old ideas remarkably well.
The story begins in Little Cam, a research facility hidden deep in the jungles of the Amazon. 16-year-old Pia is the result of a multi-generational scientific experiment. Her parents, grandparents, and others before her all drank from a flower called elysium. As a result, Pia is immortal, and the scientists of Little Cam want her to begin a new, immortal race of humans.
Pia thinks that’s what she wants too...until the night of her 17th birthday, when a storm blows over a tree and creates a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam. Pia takes the opportunity to briefly escape and meets Eio, a young man from a nearby tribe. But Eio has more ties to Pia than she could have imagined. And the more she sneaks out to see him, the more she begins to question her origins, and just what the Little Cam scientists -- who have become family to her -- really want from her.
There is a popular formula for young adult dystopian romance: Teenage girl lives in utopian society. Teenage girl meets attractive teenage boy and begins to question her society. Teenage girl and teenage boy uncover the secrets and work together to escape and/or bring the society down. Origin follows this formula, but combines it with something that hasn’t been done much in the genre: The desire to live forever. And no story is truly original, but Khoury tells the story in her own unique and captivating way. A blurb on the back cover from author Josh Sundquist sums it up nicely -- according to him, Pia is “the perfect antidote for those suffering from Katniss withdrawal.”
Origin has been done before, but never in a way like this. Hattiesburg residents can pick up a copy at Books a Million at Turtle Creek Crossing.
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