by Jessica Khoury (Penguin Group, 2012)
The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.
This was about a 16-year-old sheltered girl who is immortal, perfect, made in a lab and knows it. So she is a bit on the young side. She has never been outside the compound.
It was a great book because it explores the idea of where science should morally end before they begin playing god and creator and where it really could be going in our not so distant future. Khoury uses a bit of Amazon plant magic to make her story possible, but with cloning and the genetic discoveries you have to wonder how far away we are from this type of reality.
There is a romance which helps pull Pia from her conditioned future. She is cute in the romance because she has been trained to be a scientist her entire life and is a perfect example of a book smart girl falling for a street smart boy (without the author constantly reiterating it like some other books out there).
I feel like I’ve discovered some fascinating new species. Homo ferus: wild human. An unpredictable, nocturnal creature usually found in trees. Caution: may cause bewilderment and disorientation. Also, prone to teasing. (pg 84)
It is pretty safe and sweet, the romance, but the evil of mankind is pretty harsh. Not that we have super crazy scenes, because honestly the book felt pretty young even though the theme and ideas are anything but.
Pia is very proud of who and what she is, what science has brought about and what that means for her future. Her world and rules are the only she has ever known, but by meeting an outsider she is forced to question those rules and the people she thinks of as her family.
He stands back and stares at me for a while. “They’ve tamed you like a monkey. Trained you to fetch nuts and sit on their shoulders, and now you would rather live on a leash than run free through the treetops.” (pg 150)
The writing is also filled with some lovely descriptions, this one of falling in love
“he made my world shatter into a million shards, then brought the pieces together again in new patters, creating a whole new world – and a whole new Pia – that never existed before. (pg 273)
Ultimately, it is a rollercoaster filled with revelations. Some of the science really crosses the borders into magic, but it is a fun ride anyway. I just got tripped up and a bit annoyed by the naivety of the kids, how quickly they fell in love and how life or death everything became. Sometimes I get in a little fight with stories and have a hard time getting over the “oh yea, right” factor. I guess I had a hard time suspending my disbelief a little and the bit of insta-love was juvenile. BUT the science at what cost, the moral questions it raises make it worth it. A fun and interesting read. 3.5 stars floating in a warm swimming hole, their reflections rippling only slightly as the anaconda swims beneath.