"Vitro" Book Review (Origin Series)

ImageCynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
By: Jessica Khoury
Published: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Origin
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Mystery
On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.
Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists her old friend who is now a charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for discovering what happens when scientists play God.
This novel was okay.  The premise is intriguing, but the execution of it could have been done far better. It has a strong beginning for about a quarter of the book.  The problem is that even though it’s fast paced, there isn’t a lot of detail to ground the reader in the book.  That takes away from attaching to the otherwise bland characters.  Even though the novel switches perspective per chapter, the characters are nothing but names on a sheet.  They are not enticing, even though the Khoury sets out to create a very strong protagonist, Sophie; she quickly sacrifices it by turning her into a reckless idiot who does not think before she acts.  So far, the pace of the novel is fast.  Then there is the other main protagonist, Jim, who is pleasant enough to read but again, his personality just does not stand out.  In the beginning, for about a quarter of the book, the mystery of the island and the fast pace are the only things the writer did that worked.
After that, the novel slows down to a snail’s pace.  Though at least one mystery is brought to light, while the reader has time to mull it over, nothing in the novel will distract.  However, that does not work in favor of the novel.  Though the situation is revealed as more dire than initially thought, the characters have remained much the same as when the story started.  With a plot twist like this, it should be fast now, not slowing down, especially with all the tension and action going around.  The story is rife with mystery after mystery but with little character development for half the book. The story as it develops comes off as far from cohesive.  When Sophie finds herself trapped, her character continues to remain a reckless idiot.   Her inside plot is virtually invisible, it’s as though the writer is trying to make it as subtle as possible to not distract from the overall plot, which would normally work if not for the characters’ lack of development.  The only thing that the writer did right for Sophie was make her a determined character: a stubborn one that keeps her from being unlikable.
Halfway through the book, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the writer finally makes everything cohesive.  The pace speeds up to proper speed that befits the characters, the tension, and  the plot twists that are each incredibly unpredictable.  Nicholas, who is one of the characters antagonists, is something more, and brings so much now that he has revealed a string of truths to the story: unprecedented truths that are all intriguing and well written.
An added bonus is that there is finally character development, making the struggle the characters are facing more intriguing, building the respective inside plotlines and pulling them together. This book went out with a bang and went from painfully boring to exciting.
Grammar wise, there were sentences that read awkwardly, comma usage was either ignored or used incorrectly, which will bother some readers.  Overall, a decent novel however, if you make it past half the book.  ★★★☆☆ (C+)

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