DNF Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on September 6, 2012 | 16 Comments

DNF Review: Origin by Jessica KhouryOrigin by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill (9.4.2012)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 372 pages
Source: NetGalley


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.

My thoughts

I usually hate to include spoilers in any review, but the reason I put this down is based off of a spoiler, so that’s most of what this review will entail.

I think my hopes for this one were much too high before I picked it up. The story was decent. The originality was great. The characters…eh.
I love the premise, really I do. A flower that can make people immortal and a perfect being with impenetrable skin is awesome. There was a lot of science involved (although most of it didn’t really make a lot of sense, but oh well) and I like science. And Pia’s friend is a jaguar. So cool.

The romance = instaluv. I understand that Pia has never seen a boy before, and OMGSH Eio’s abs are just, like, soo sexy, but damn. Within a mere week of meeting they’re all, ‘I love you, you are my heart, I’d die without you’ and it was just a little much for me. The L word could really have waited until the end, moving a little slower to let the romance truly develop. But whatever.

The whole Evil Scientist spiel was…interesting, but perhaps a little overdone. Rooms with chairs that have shackles on them, lies and cover ups, putting birds inside a cage with electrified bars to see how long they can stay in flight, keeping a nest of man-eating ants for examination, killing a kitten to pass a test of ‘perfection’…Why? Because they’re scientists and they only care about a means to an end?

Let’s get to the real reason I marked this as DNF. Killing kittens in the name of science.
I bawled. Ugly cry does not even cover it. Not because the writing is good, or because the author is talented, but because the idea of someone purposely killing a kitten is just so horrific to me (I am a crazed cat fanatic) that I think a little piece of my soul died just reading about it.
I will never understand for the life of me why an author feels the need to put something like this into their novel. To get a rise out of the reader? To make an emotional connection? To create controversy? Unless the book is focused on animal abuse, there should be absolutely NO reason for it. Especially in fantasy/sci-fi novels. And with this particular reader, an appearance of said abuse is more likely to make me get angry, throw the book, and never pick it back up again than to make me give kudos for being ballsy enough to face such a controversial topic. Sorry, that’s just my opinion. Actually no, I’m not sorry. I hate it when authors kill kittens fictionally, no matter what the reason. I am a cat lover, and any abuse or murder of a cat is enough to condemn any book in my eyes. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m overreacting. That’s just the way it is for me. If a two-week-old kitten getting stabbed with a syringe of poison and then thrown on the ground doesn’t bother you, then give this book a go; you’ll probably like it. The issue here is that it just wasn’t for me.

I made it through more than 250 pages before the kitten murder. I was mostly enjoying the book, sure, but it wasn’t anything particularly spectacular….not so engaging that I feel the need to finish it. I can part ways with it without feeling any loss. I read the last few pages and I know what happens ultimately, so I could really care less about that 100 pages in between. I just can’t bring myself to continue. I can’t.

Favorite character: Little Sneeze, the two week old ocelot kitten. OH WAIT, HE WAS BRUTALLY INJECTED WITH POISON AND DIED.
Plot: 3.5/5
Writing style: —
I can’t rate this because the cat killing destroys my ability to be objective.
Originality: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
World-building: 3/5
Pace: 3.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall rating: DNF
NOT recommended for cat lovers.
Jessi (Geo)

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16 responses to “DNF Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

  1. I have seen comments like your kitty murder one from other readers, and I will not be reading this book because of it. I’m sensitive to animal slayings as well, so I know I would hate this book instantly. Thank you for your review!

  2. You’re not overreacting at all Jessi. I know I mentioned this to you in other comments because I heard about this from Megan at Book Brats. At the time, I thought maybe I’d still give it ago, but I didn’t have all the details then and now from your review, I do. If you bawled, I would too. Any animals…I can’t stand it. If I hear this stuff on the news I turn the channel. I can’t watch Sarah Maclachlan commercials. Not because I don’t want to help animals – I do and I’m all about ending animal suffering – but I can’t look at it or read about it. I know I told you something happens in Once also (and only at 19% through) but that was a dog and though it wasn’t as senseless as this cat killing, it made me bawl and bury my face in my dog’s fur. I haven’t picked it up since and I’m not sure I will.

    I definitely won’t read Origin now though. I’m greatly disappointed because I was initially excited about it and got a copy at BEA, but I guess I will see if anyone else wants it, but who knows. I understand the usual animals for food and all but this kind of stuff is unnecessary.

    • Tabitha

      Ik that this was written in 2012 and all, but I still wanted to leave a reply for the future. Animals for food is pretty horrific. Factory farming can be even worse than what happened to Sneeze. I was reading this, as a vegan, and almost cried in public over when Sneeze was killed. It’s all awful.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    Bekka – That’s what I did! My kitty crawled up on my lap (probably wondering why I was crying).

    Amber – I should have known from your warning…and I think you just said animal abuse in general so I was hoping the bird in the electric cage was it (and the same when the rat ate the poison). Then the ‘test’ came and even though Pia didn’t want to do it, I had that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach because I knew this must be what you meant. I was afraid it was going to happen but I kept reading…I should have quit right then and there.
    I know what you mean about Sarah’s commercials! I tear up every time the one with Angel comes on. I’m a little less sensitive to dogs as cats, but I’d probably still cry. If I like Eve I’ll try Once anyway…as long as it’s not senseless killing then I should be able to get past it. Anna Dressed in Blood had a cat death in it and I still enjoyed the book even though I hated that part.

  4. I’ve seen this book floating around and honestly, it didn’t sound like the book for me. Even more so after the cat comment. I have 3 cats… enough said. LoL
    Book Sniffers Anonymous

  5. Wow, this book sounded so good! But I think the cat thing would definitely keep me from liking it too, and I’m a dog person! Thanks for the honest review and even for the spoilers. I won’t feel quite so bad now that I was unable to get a copy of this one.

  6. Yeah, I think I did say animal abuse. I didn’t want to spoil it but maybe that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing and I learned all this from someone else who read it lol. Once….it’s a protective thing, but I still didn’t think it had to happen.

  7. My eyes immediately fell on the 2 bolded words. KILLING. KITTENS.

    WHAT?! No, just no.

    Insta-love is annoying but it can be overlooked if the writing/plot is good. But killing off innocent animals, never. >:(

  8. I am SO glad I found this review. Thank you so much for the warning! I’m a crazy cat lady with 7 cats. Yes, 7. I’m 25 and I own 7 cats… 6 of them are outdoor ones I’ve adopted, though. They live in my backyard and I put out food and water for them. Anyway… I love cats so much, and I will not be reading this because of your warnings. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I read your spoiler. And man… I met this author, and she is so sweet! She’s very young, with big doe eyes. I never would ave expected this from her. I’m really sad. THANK YOU for your honesty.

    – Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

  9. Liz

    Thank you for your honesty. I was so excited for this book and I was like oh yes its going to be so amazing in the Jungle and (so i was skimming the spoiler part)..but then you wrote the words..kittens and killing. and I was thinking wait why are kittens being killed so i fully read the review. and was like **** no. haha so yeah. I have a cat that is my world and i lost a furry baby last year. no animal should be tortured and I completely teared up when you said your favorite character part so there is no telling what i would have done if I read it.

    I normally hate spoilers, but I seriously thank you so much for this.

  10. Liz

    Also I agree with Jana, I think Jessica Khoury is the sweetest person I have probably ever talked to. Hopefully she will write something that doesn’t involve animal abuse because I would love to read her work, just not that.

  11. The writing was pretty good, if she wrote something else I’d probably try it (after reading many, many reviews carefully to be sure there is no kitten killing). Without that part, this book probably would have been a solid 3 stars for me.

  12. I’ve scanned your review a bit, because I tend to read spoilers even if I don’t want to :’) but I was so curious about your thoughts. Such a shame that you didn’t like it. I’ve read something about insta-love and I hate that.. Oh, bugger. I was looking forward to this one because of the secret laboratory, since I tend to like those subjects – because of my study. Hmm.. Perhaps this one is going to be a library copy.

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