There are many Young Adult books that address the idea of dystopia (a futuristic world that is dehumanizing, think opposite of utopia), and they have become increasingly popular after The Hunger Games became a huge hit. Origin contains echoes of that series but also of 1984 (the main character is watched and studied at all times, like Big Brother) and of Brave New World (science is used to manipulate, control, and excuse wrongdoing).
Pia is a teenager who knows her purpose in life, to live forever and join a team of scientists in creating more like her, immortals who will never die. The key to this mystery is a plant that grows in the amazon, which in combination with a secret element that has yet to be revealed to Pia, will bring everlasting life.
All her life Pia has been sheltered from the outside world in a small laboratory compound in the Amazon. She knows nothing and no one beyond the group of scientists who live in the compound and what they have taught her from birth. Then one day she finds a break in the fence surrounding her compound and meets Eio who is everything a girl could want: good-looking, sweet, and crazy about Pia. The only problem is that he is not immortal like her, so if she allows herself to fall for him, she will live on beyond him, and fail the calling for which she was created. Eio introduces her to the people of a nearby village, and Pia begins to question her tiny, perfect, scientific world, and longs to have what other humans have: culture and connection.
Origin looks at the difference between the many and the few, and the way that science should or should not be used to hurt a few for the “good “of the many. It also brings up questions about what it means to be human thus flawed and breakable vs. “perfect” rational, and immortal.
I think readers will find Origin to be a fun, fast paced read. It pulls the plot along quickly and does not develop characters very deeply, but it does ask some interesting questions while supporting an unusual coming-of-age love story.
Submitted by Ashley Hulsey Coutch
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