by Jessica Khoury


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595145956
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.26(d)
Lexile: HL740L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jessica Khoury is of Syrian and Scottish descent, and was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She still lives in Toccoa with her husband, Ben, where she writes and coaches youth soccer. Origin is her first novel. You can visit her online at www.jessicakhoury.com.

Read an Excerpt

I take a step back as he reaches his full height, my flashlight still aimed at his face. “What do you want with me? Where—where are you from?”

“You’re the one who crashed into me.” He is taller than me, and though he is thin, he is very muscular. I can tell because he’s half-naked. He’s wearing khaki shorts and a cord around his neck from which hangs a tiny jaguar carved into jade, but nothing else, not even shoes. His skin is the color of a shelled Brazil nut, light, warm brown, the brown of days spent in the dappled sun of the rainforest. His hair is as black as the night around us and thick with tangles. There is something vaguely familiar about his face, but I can’t think of what it is. That’s very disconcerting for me, since I forget nothing. If I had seen this boy before, I would remember it. And not just because my memory is perfect. I’d remember those eyes . . . that sculpted chest . . . the definition of his abdomen. . . .

I snap my eyes up to his face, whipping my thoughts back into line. My initial fear gives way to anger. “What are you doing out here, anyway? It’s the middle of the night. Where are your clothes?”

He replies, remarkably calmly, “You’ve wandered far from your cage, Pia bird.”

“What?” I ask blankly.

“The dress,” he says, nodding at it. “It makes you look like a bird. The kind we Ai’oa like to keep on our shoulders. But that’s not a good thing to be running around the jungle in.”

I look down at my torn dress. “It’s my birthday.” Furious, I glare at him, refusing to let him distract me. Again. “Ai’oa? What is that?”

He presses a hand to his bare chest. “We are a who, not a what.”

“Are you a native?” “I’m Ai’oan. Only the scientists call us natives.” He cocks his head curiously. “Are you a scientist? I think you must be, because you are of the Little Cam village.”

“No. Yes. I mean, I will be soon. How did you know where I’m from? Have you been to Little Cam?” Fear had turned to anger, but my anger now transforms into fascination. I’ve never spoken with anyone from outside Little Cam. Harriet Fields doesn’t count because now she’s from Little Cam too.

“I’ve seen it,” he says, “but only from the trees. It is no place for the Ai’oa. Kapukiri says there is evil in the village of the scientists.”

“Little Cam isn’t evil,” I reply, bristling. “What do you know about it?”

“Only what Kapukiri says.” He kneels and stares curiously at Alai. “He obeys your command and follows where you go. Incredible. Truly, you are blessed to have such a companion.”

His words soften me, and I warm a little. “Is your village close?” Eio’s eyes narrow suspiciously. “Why? What do you want with Ai’oa?”

“I want to see it,” I say on a whim. “Show it to me.” “I don’t know. . . .” He frowns. “That smoke I smell, is it from Ai’oa?” I close my eyes and breathe deeply. “It’s coming from . . . that direction.” I open my eyes and start to follow the scent. When I look back, Eio is staring at me with wide eyes.

“You . . .” He runs to catch up with me. “You can smell it from here?”

“Ah . . .” I swallow and backpedal a bit. “Well, can’t you?”

Uncertainty plays openly across his face. “I guess . . . if you promise not to wake everyone . . .”

“I swear.”

“Well . . . okay.” He still seems uneasy. I take it that visitors aren’t often invited to Ai’oa.

I follow him over fallen logs made soft with mosses and under low-hanging vines and limbs. I wonder how he’ll see where he’s going, but he seems to feel his way rather than see it. I thought I moved silently through the jungle, but Eio seems to float over the ground rather than walk on it. He moves as sinuously as a snake and as lightly as a butterfly. Alai stays between us at all times, showing his mistrust in his hackles and rigid tail.

Before long I smell smoke, then I see the fires from which it comes. They burn low, more embers than flames, several dozen of them. Around the fires are huts made of four poles and thatched with palm leaves. They have no walls. When we reach the edge of the village, Eio stops me. “They are sleeping. It is never good to wake what is sleeping. Stay here and look, but don’t wake them.”

“You’re awake,” I point out.

“I couldn’t sleep. I heard a jaguar and went looking for it.” He looks down at Alai. I remember Alai’s roars as we escaped through the fence. “Is it a good idea to hunt jaguars? Seems to me they’d end up hunting you.”

Eio sits on a mossy rock, arms crossed over his bare chest. “Not to catch one! To see it. It is a powerful sign, the glimpse of the jaguar.”

“I see a jaguar every day,” I say, reaching down to rub Alai’s ears.

“It is a thing unheard of.” He shakes his head. “In the jungle, the jaguar is king. He follows no one but himself, and we Ai’oa fear and respect him and call him guardian.”

“Alai’s just a big baby, really.”

Eio gives a short laugh. “Of course. That’s why he tried to bite the nose off my face!”

“How do you know English? Uncle Paolo told me you natives were ignorant about everything outside your own villages.”

“I’m not ignorant,” Eio objects. “It is you who are ignorant, Pia bird. My father taught me English.”

“Your father?”

“He is a scientist like you, in Little Cam.”

“Really!” I blink and stare at him with astonishment. Well, well, someone’s been hiding a really big secret. . . . “Who is it? What’s his name?” I think of all the scientists, wondering who it could be.

“I don’t know his name. To me, he is only Papi. He comes and teaches me English and math and writing.”

“What does he look like?”

Eio shrugs. “Ugly, like all scientists.”

I frown. “You think I’m ugly?” “Of course,” he says, staring toward his village.

I feel my face flush with anger. “That’s the meanest thing anyone has ever said to me! I’m not ugly! I’m . . .” I look down at my muddy, bedraggled dress, and my voice falls to an embarrassed whisper. “I’m perfect.”

“Perfect? Is that why you’re running around in the jungle, making noise like a tapir running from the spear, in a dress?”

“I—it’s my birthday. . . . I wanted to see the jungle. I’ve never been outside Little Cam before. I wanted to feel what it was like to be outside, in the wild.” “Are you a prisoner, Pia bird?”

“No,” I say, startled.

“Why have you never left, then?”

“I—they say it’s dangerous. Anacondas.”

“Anacondas! I have killed an anaconda.”

“You have?”

“Yes. It was as long as I am tall, and I am the tallest Ai’oan in the village. I made its skin into a belt for Papi.”

“I’ve only seen an anaconda once. It was dead too. Uncle Timothy shot it.”

“With a gun?”

“Of course with a gun!”

“I don’t like guns. I hunt with dart and spear and arrow. These are silent and will not scare away your prey like a stupid gun.”

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but the night is growing even darker. “I should go back now.” It’s been much, much longer than an hour. My delirious rush of adrenaline leaves me weary and nervous. I want to get back, to change and shower before my absence is noticed. If it hasn’t been noticed already.


Excerpted from "Origin"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Jessica Khoury.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Khoury's debut captures the lush rhythms of the rainforest. . . . The plot moves at breakneck speed. . . . Utterly refreshing." —Kirkus

"This well-written first novel concerns 17-year-old Pia, who, as the result of advanced genetic engineering, is invulnerable and immortal. . . . [Khoury’s] descriptions of the rainforest and the native people contrast beautifully with the laboratory setting . . . and Pia is a fascinating protagonist." —Publishers Weekly

"This first novel is a gripping read . . . with a clever blend of elements. It is an adventure story with romantic overtones, has a lush exotic setting framed by science, turns the eternal-love concept on its head, and rotates around a compelling moral quandary." —Booklist

"Readers will be thrilled with the page-turning adventure/survival scenes in a descriptive and imaginative setting, and will root for Pia and Eio to the end." —SLJ

"Origin is a startling mystery played out in the vivid and lush Amazon jungle. In this deadly clash of science and nature, a heroine emerges. Pia clawed her way through the pages and left her mark on the landscape of my imagination as the almost tangible danger left me breathless." —Colleen Houck, New York Times bestselling author of Tiger's Curse

"I loved Origin's action, romance, and mystery and I couldn't stop thinking about the questions it raised." —Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the Universe

"Is this science fiction? It feels too scarily real. This spellbinding tale of the horrors of genetic engineering gone mad is both thriller and love story, breathlessly paced and beautifully told." —Judy Blundell, National Book Award winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied

"A lush, dreamy page-turner that will live forever in the hearts of its readers. Pia may be the perfect antidote for those suffering from Katniss withdrawal." —Josh Sundquist, author of the national bestseller Just Don't Tell

Customer Reviews

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Origin 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 85 reviews.
PCRachel More than 1 year ago
Origin is a well-written story that quickly pulled me into the jungle. It is breathtaking, amazing, and just plain fabulous. Jessica Khoury wrote a great debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what she'll do next. Origin was, simply, original. If I did ratings, it would get 5/5 stars, hands-down. This is what I like to call a good book. I was highly anticipating this novel, and was afraid that I was so excited it wouldn't be any good. However, while it wasn't what I expected, it was still brilliant. I wish I didn't have several other books to read so I can read it again. It's a stand-alone, and it ended well enough to make that satisfactory. I've heard this is going to be adapted into a movie, and if it's done right, it will be phenomenal. If you haven't read Origin or are debating whether or not you should read it, read it. There's not much else like this in the YA world, and something so original and different is refreshing. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
mrsvaljones More than 1 year ago
Deep within the Amazon rain forest, groups of scientist have created something impossible. Strikingly beautiful and vibrant with life Pia, is the only one of her kind. With skin unable to break, Pia can never bleed and never die, she is immortal. But immortality is hard to bear alone. Knowing that everyone you know and love will one day die, drives Pia to become a scientist herself, and discover the secret to immorality and with that knowledge develop a race of immortals, and a Perfect immortal man of her own. Secluded within the small and secretive scientific community, Pia is completely unaware of the outside world. A world she hears about in whispers and sees through her glass house. On the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that cages her, and escapes into the jungle. There she discovers a native village, and a boy Eio. Together they search for the truth about Pia’s origin, and what the scientist are really hiding in their secret laboratory. Their discovery uncovers some shocking truths and the consequences of seeking immorality no matter the costs. Filled with beautiful scenery and endearing characters, Jessica Khoury first novel provides a shocking storyline that is thought provoking and emotionally intense, readers will not want to put down Origin. Recommended for readers age 12-17.
IngaKS More than 1 year ago
My review: I received Origin by Jessica Khoury at BEA2012 in June. I have been holding this book in my hands so many times with an intention to read it and finally got it read. You see, I am usually not a YA science fiction fan and that is the only reason few days ago, when I decided to go for it. I am glad, that I did, because I truly liked the book. It was thought wakening for me. Plot: The plot deals with - can you create a perfect person? Or more precisely can you create a perfect immortal person? Origin takes you to Amazon jungle, where Pia is bred. Pia is a teenager girl who does not know anything about the world outside of Little Cambridge scientific labs. Pia knows almost about everything what there is to know about science, but she has no idea what is New York. Pia is an immortal created by scientists and she has always been told she is perfect - a beginning of a new race of immortals. She does believe she is perfect until the day she has her first contacts with world outside, firstly by a new woman entering the team of scientist in Little Cam - Dr Harriet Fields who manages to surprise Pia by honestly declaring, that she is not perfect. Nobody in Pia's life has ever told her about what is life outside and her curiosity grows together with Dr. fields' appearance and by the fact, that the fence around Little Cam is damaged and for the first time on her life, she can sneak out. During her first trip to the jungle, Pia meets a young man Eio, who lives in the village nearby. Eio is not like all the other villagers, his mother was from village and his father is actually one of the scientists from Little Cam. Eio introduces her to his own world. Step by step Pia starts asking questions about Little Cam, the scientists, about her own inheritage and starts doubting if she really should be happy of being perfect immortal or if there is more to life than just that. What I liked about Origin was how the author built the tension and the story, how all your questions get answered and I also enjoyed how she decided to finish it. It's not so much about cloning or immortality as it is about moral and being either above or beneath it. What would you be willing to do to write the history?, is the question. Characters: Origin is filled with fascinating characters! I was annoyed by Pia in the beginning, about her perfect world and perfect race she was going to develop. She was so sheltered and so very naive. Yes, nothing can penetrate her skin, she will never die, but she really knows so little... until her curiosity gets her better part. Pia grew on me while reading. She becomes a strong young woman, who finally starts asking questions and finding the answers. I loved Eio who was so levelled and down to earth. I adored how he took Pia to the villagers and introduced her their way of living. He was kind, smart and had great instincts about people. One of my favorite characters in Origin was Dr. Harriet Fields who is so feminine and smart and helpful. She does have skeletons in her closet, but so does everyone in Little Cam. The other scientists, who were interesting were Uncle Antonio and Uncle Paolo. Antonio is kind and gentle whereas Paolo is pure evil and willing to do anything needed for the cause and not being afraid choosing the means. Generally: I truly liked Origin by Jessica Khoury! Read it, even though you might not be a fan of science fiction, because it is worth of all the time it takes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully deep plot full of emotion and moral dilemmas. Totally worth a read! Stayed up late reading and couldn't put it down.
KittymommyVC More than 1 year ago
A fantastic read. Well-written, it doesn't drag or wander. As good a book as I have ever read, and better than a great many of them. Way to go, Jess! I had to keep reminding myself this is a first novel, not one from an experienced writer. OOPS!! My own jaguar is grabbing at my elbow as I write!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so good that i hardly have any words to describe it. There is somthing for everyone, intrigue, suspence, love, action, and Khoury writes with so much description that it's hard to believe your not actually there. This book is a deffinate read but be warned that some of the parts are very intensly cold and distant, but don't let it discourage you from continuing. Many unexpected twists and turns, and an ending that will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat until the very last page. An instant classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have less than 100 pages to go. This book is perfection. I highly recommended it. Great science fiction read. I can feel the emotions in this book, not a boring chapter in it at all.
rachelnaddeo More than 1 year ago
Origin was a novel I was totally waiting on this year. With such an original premise, I was instantly crazy to get my hands on it. Furthermore being Brazilian, I was curious about the mention about the Amazon in the synopsis. Origin promises a great and exciting read to any of you wondering about reading it. The Plot: The pace matches the type of story perfectly. The mystery around Pia is told in a perfect pace for readers to be completely hooked on it. Furthermore I couldn't have imagined a better place for the story to take place in; somehow the Amazon and its inhabitants were a perfect fit for this novel. With many lies, betrayals and secrets running wild in Origin, it is no wonder that Khoury's novel won't let you put it down! The Characters: Though Pia was writing in a very compelling way, she just wasn't for me. She was too naive. But it was really sweet and gave me great pleasure to be able to read and sense the change in her character: she went from being naive and relatively weak to being a headstrong and great character. I liked Eio and he was a great match for Pia, yet I couldn't develop more interest in him. Not to mention that the romance happened so quickly, I didn't even realized it and it was already there. Origin certainly offers a different read than you are probably accustumed to. I personally enjoy books full of mysteries, so this one was certainly enjoyable for me. The insta-love did kind of let me down a bit but the plot was worth overlooking it. Overall, it was a great and sweet read that will leave you completely content with its ending.
BookWhales More than 1 year ago
“LIES, SECRETS and BETRAYAL” Origin will leave you thirsty for more. “You are our hope, Pia. Don’t let us down.” I saw this book on Netgalley. After seeing the trailer, I know that I have to read it. The plot had raised my curiosity. The story is set deep in the Amazon Rainforest, where the scientists are keeping Pia; the only person in the world who is immortal. She is the most prized subject and they will do anything to keep her there. Sheltered and unaware of the outside world, Pia thinks she lives a perfect life. But then she met Eio, a boy from the outside, everything had changed. She now wants to be free. “LIES, SECRETS and BETRAYAL” Origin will leave you thirsty for more. The world building is extraordinary! I feel like I was deep inside the Amazon Rainforest. The way the author described the scenery made my mouth water. Everything was vividly written and described well. I didn’t have a hard time imagining Pia’s world. I also enjoyed the exotic flowers and animals. What I like the most are the Ai’oa people. I was fascinated! Their culture and customs had absorbed me in. I also find the story unique and believable. The characters are well developed and realistic. There are many characters in the book. I find it hard to get to know them really well. But I connected to Pia instantly. She is likable and not so perfect, despite her immortality. She had flaws which made me like her more. I understand her loneliness and anger. She’s strong minded and full of courage. Uncle Antonio is my second favorite. His love for Pia and dedication to her, melted my heart. Then Eio, the boy from the Ai’oa tribe, he intrigues me the most because of his heritage. He was described as exotic, dark haired and blue eyed. How come he could speak English and looks sort of a Caucasian? You have to read this book to find out why. All I can say is that the revelation had left my mouth hanging open. The love angle is impressive. I felt Eio and Pia’s connection. It was innocent and cute. There were some scenes that gave butterflies in my stomach. Overall, Origin is a great book! If you like sci-fi and something new to read, this book is for you. I can’t wait to read another book from Ms. Jessica. I give this 4 experimenting whales
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Origin offers a unique and refreshing approach to the YA genre with its interesting exploration of immortality, science fiction and forbidden romance. And probably more than any other YA books I've read, Origin has more than one level to it, which adds a greater depth than the average novel with some actually thought behind many of the elements.Pia has spent her entire life in a secret compound deep in the Amazon rainforest, kept hidden from the world outside. Raised by a group of scientists, Pia is the result of generations of experimentation and the beginning of a new raise of superior immortals. Pia never bothers to think past the glorious destiny laid for her by the scientists until she meets a boy named Eio was a local native village. As Pair starts to question her existence, the dark and deadly truth behind her origin starts to unfold.I had some mixed feelings about this book. Some aspects of it were incredible, while at other times I considered putting it aside almost completely and not even finishing it. I know that doesn't make much sense, but in the course of reading this book, I went from nearly giving up on it to sitting on the edge of my seat and flipping pages non-stop. I think much of this had to do with the fact that Origin, to me, was a very uneven book. The plot seemed to move incredibly slowly at the beginning and Pia felt like a very flat and dull character with little personality. It also bothered me that the secrets surrounding Pia and the compound seemed to take forever to come out, and the reader just wasn't given enough breadcrumbs along the way to keep things interesting.But when the secrets finally did start coming out, I was hooked. Though I think this book could have easily been edited down, once I finally waded through it and got to the good stuff, the book seemed to change completely. Suddenly, Pia and many of the other sub characters emerged from their haze and took on stronger characterization. And once the truth started to come out, the action just wouldn't stop and the story finally took off. I honestly think that for the final 50-ish pages, I was glued to every word.Origin has a lot of good things going on, but it could use some polishing up. This book has so much potential coming from a debut author, and I'm excited to see this author does in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
elizac More than 1 year ago
Astonishing. Thrilling. Suspenseful. Romantic. Jessica Khoury adds many surprising elements throughout her work while maintaining a sense of realism. In this science fiction novel, a seventeen year old scientist is bred just so she can make more like her. Pia is immortal and has lived her life inside a science lab being studied, trained, and used. On the night of her eighteenth birthday, she finds a hole in the infamous electric fence keeping her hidden inside of the lab’s walls. She finds a native village with many native people, new sights that take her breath away, and best of all - a curious boy who roams the jungle and just happens to be really cute. She returns to her tests and discovers shivering secrets that her little lab and other scientists have been keeping. Pia and her jungle boy piece together her shocking origin as they fall in love but are nothing short of terrified when they realize just how gruesome the unnerving truth is. As Pia writes about her electrifying adventure, the reader is left on the edge of their seat and anxious as Pia plunges down into the fearful facts kept from her for so long. Origin has been in my top favorites ever since I finished, and I definitely recommend it. It has the renowned concept of an immortality-giving drug, derived from some mysterious plant in the Amazon that is familiar but foreign to many. While it is not a bedtime story, it is mostly written for young adults or teens with a yearn for a good read. Even if you are not a huge fan of science fiction, I would still take a peek at it because with Khoury’s writing style, it almost seems realistic. The debut novel is from an astonishingly young new author. There is no doubt that Jessica Khoury has a gift for writing and storytelling, as Origin is a compulsively readable and entertaining book. She has also written a few other novels, but as this is her first, it is the most popular. If you haven't read Origin or are debating whether or not you should read it, read it. There's not much else like this in the YA world, and something so original and different is refreshing. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the best thing I've ever read but not the worst either. Though I did call your Big Plot Twist in page 89 out of 313. For how smart the main character is preached to be it took her a painfully long time to figure it out. It really suffers from Twilight Syndrome - the side characters are much more interesting than the two mains. I'd rather read Dr. Harriet Fields' story any day than that of immortal Pia and Eio the wild boy's secret romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Soo good. I picked it up and never put it down until the last page was turned
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read! The story is so heartfelt, fun, and reasonably fast paced. I gobbled it up and will definitely be checking out more of the authors other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's an amazing read...I laughed, cried, and shouted out loud in quiet public areas.....A very nice change from other YA books out now..... What are you waiting for? Read the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ana_Y More than 1 year ago
Awesome book! I picked it up at Barnes and Noble on a whim; I'd seen Vitro several times and was curious about Khory's novels. I love the cover art for both of Khoury's books! Anyways, I began reading it and was immediately hooked. Almost every aspect of the story is original and unique, which sets it apart from other YA books. The jungle setting is beautifully portrayed; the romance well written and the characters are colorful and animated. The book kept me in suspense more than once. I wish there was a sequel! I would love to read more about Pia and Eio.  In short, this book is amazing. I wasn't sure about it at first since I hadn't heard a lot about it, but I'm so glad I bought it! I can't wait to read Vitro. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it was a very well written book. I think it could have used more at the ending. Pia is going though issues that can be relatable. I am glad I got this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read many books in the past year with this book being one of my avorites. This book is about a young girl being led on to believe a certain way and a brave boy tring to show her the right way. This book is also about how far a person would go to achieve their dream. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book I have read in a long time! I really couldn't put it down. It was full of suspense, action, romance, and BETRAYAL! You have to get this book. If you don't you will not have lived your life. ****If a movie director or producer is reading this then you have to make this into movie! I think I speak for all of the readers when I say, it would be an amazing movie!!****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago