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Self-contained sci-fi thriller adds emotion to immortality.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Origin presents a reasonably convincing picture of life in the Amazonian rain forest and raises questions about the limits of genetic engineering.

Positive messages

Many of the characters in Origin embark on a quest for immortality without examining what it might actually mean to live forever among the rest of a fragile humanity. The novel's protagonist, Pia, gradually uncovers the secrets that have governed her entire young life and must find the strength to assert her humanity, at the possible expense of her near-invulnerability.

Positive role models

Pia, the young protagonist of Origin, begins the novel as a sweet and naive test subject, eager to fulfill the expectations of the only family she's ever known. Her gradual realization of the cost of the quest for immortality makes her take active agency against nearly everyone who has raised her. Eio, the boy she meets in the jungle, helps her set her ethical compass and accept that love and compassion are more valuable than physical invincibility.


The level of violence in Origin is fairly low until the climactic scenes, at which point there are a number of shootings, a suicide, and death by arrows. The mayhem is not described gratuitously. An earlier scene involving euthanasia and a kitten might upset some sensitive readers.


Pia and Eio share a strong physical attraction, but their romantic activity never progresses beyond longing looks and a few passionate kisses.


Readers will find little objectionable language in Origin. At a moment of emotional intensity, Pia says "Screw you" a few times.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Origin is a fast-paced science fiction thriller that explores some of the possible consequences of genetic engineering. Pia, the young protagonist, gradually learns the history of lies and treachery at the research facility that's been her only home. There's little violence until the novel's climax, when there are some shootings, a suicide, and a death by arrows. "Screw you" is the book's most objectionable language, and there's little sexual content, beyond some longing looks and a couple of passionate kisses.

What's the story?

Deep in the Amazon, Pia has been bred and raised in isolation by a team of scientists searching for the secret to immortality. She is willing to put up with their tests and strict rules until she begins to learn that nothing in the research facility is at it seems. With the help of a sympathetic newcomer and Eio, a boy who lives among the local people, Pia begins to question the cost of immortality and explore the possibility of life outside her camp's fences.

Is it any good?


ORIGIN is a refreshingly self-contained science fiction thriller, the story of one remarkable young woman's discovery of the secrets and betrayal that lie at the heart of her family. Author Jessica Khoury does a fine job of orchestrating Pia's ethical awakening, making her initial naivety and passivity relatable but making her an active agent in her own redemption. The love-at-first-sight of Pia and Eio is a bit overdone but somewhat understandable, given the extraordinary circumstances.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why genetic engineering and the search for immortality are popular themes in science fiction stories. Can you think of other books or movies that explore either or both?

  • What would it feel like to know that you might live forever?

  • How would you feel if you learned that you had been born to be a test subject for a secret experiment?

Book details

Author:Jessica Khoury
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Science and nature, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:September 4, 2012
Number of pages:393
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Kid, 11 years old December 4, 2013


This is great for people who like romance and sci-fi novels. It's a teen fiction, so it has a lot of romance, but it's fine for younger kids because they never do more than kiss. There's a little bit of mild violence.
Adult Written bymerilia July 8, 2015

To inappropriate

Violence, violence, violence that's about it besides some kisses. This book is actually quite graphic. There is a bunch of blood in this book and a lot of deaths. The way they make the syrum in the books is to put in part of the formula into a local human who lived in the forest and drawing the syrum out of their veins after their blood had mixed with it, which a few minutes later kills the person because they can't handle it. When someone or something is injected with the syrum but is already immortal they will lose immortality but if they have already lived past a normal life span they die. These are some of the worst scenes there are more but these are the most graphic.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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