Test-tube baby with bite!
No. of pages: 394
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.
The cover and blurb had me picking up this book and flicking through. The quest for immortality through science, all wrapped up in the existence of a teenage girl – yes please!
Pia is inquisitive and intelligent (a combination which is asking for trouble while kept in captivity if you ask me) and though I found it easy to relate to her, sometimes I felt she was too well adjusted. I wanted to see her test the boundaries a lot more – I think it would have illustrated the need for the extreme measures of her containment better other than secrecy.
Eio was fascinating. Jessica Khoury managed to capture that innocence and naivety that isolated aboriginals have – even though they are fiercely intelligent in other ways (as Eio is). But I felt he also was a little too well adjusted (or domesticated) to having a camp – and Pia – close to his village. I had difficulty marrying the two cultures together properly with Pia’s narrative. Eio is that mix of a daring little boy and a courageous man, unafraid of the world outside, despite the rainforest having been his only home. I know it’s not related, but I kept getting flashes of Tim Allen’s movie ‘Jungle 2 Jungle’ while reading this.
Khoury has a decadent narrative style, she paints beautiful scenes of the jungle and night sky, which I felt suited this novel as it was all Pia knew; and she was finding the beauty in her surrounds (and being slowly introduced to new wonders around the camp). Even with that said, the first half of the book dragged on. In my opinion it was because it had a lot of scientific lexicon or Pia’s mental musings that contributed to weighing down the progression of the story… but I still really enjoyed it.
The story itself if intriguing, and the cast of scientists’ complex enough, but the pace, combined unsubstantiated actions or events left this feeling like a first draft.
I have since discovered another two novels in the Corpus universe (though not sequels) which I am keen to add to my collection.
Overall feeling: yeah, but…
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