Origin by Jessica Khoury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This books supposedly asks the questions about what makes us human, what our purpose is, and how far should people go to find perfection - sort of like Revived, Skinned or The Adoration of Jenna Fox do. In this case, a top secret lab in some jungle has used a flower, elysia, and some unknown catalyst to create an Immortal: Pia. Told from Pia's point-of-view, we meet the members of the Immortis team (all her "uncles" and "aunts", with the exception of one she calls Mother) and learn about her life with Little Cam.
New Cam's labs are involved with more than just the Immortis project, but everyone there has sworn to not talk about their lives pre-Little Cam, discuss literature or history (let alone have a map!), so Pia's been raised in a science-oriented bubble with no one her age around. For her 17th birthday she demands a party (something she's overheard a member of Little Cam talking about), and receives an illegal map of the world as a birthday present. She also learns that she's somewhere deep in the Amazon, and by escaping through a hole in the electrified fence, she meets a native tribe and starts to question the project, her life and its purpose. Some of her friends inside Little Cam support her, others are so invested in the Immortis project that they'd rather die than give the project up.
Having also read State of Wonder, the theme of Amazon miracle plants with life-altering properties felt a bit tired (although the target audience for Origin probably won't have read the Patchett book). The bigger problem was that I didn't really empathize with Pia, and the Immortis project felt very much like a German eugenics program.
ARC provided by publisher.