- Fizzy Thoughts: Origin


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Diana Abu-Jaber
384 pages

Once again, my sidebar is up to date. I took a break from If on a winter’s night a traveler and read Origin. By the time I considered changing the Currently Reading info, I was finished with Origin and back to If on a winter’s night a traveler. Sometimes procrastination can turn into efficiency.

Anyhoosie, on with the review.

This book is everything I expected Into the Woods to be. And more. It’s described as a creepy thriller, but I didn’t find it particularly creepy. It is a mystery, but there’s much more to it than that. I’d classify it as a damn good book.

Lena believes that she was raised by apes when she was a small child. She grew up in foster care, and her foster parents were always cagy about her past. Now in her 30’s, Lena works as a crime lab analyst. When a series of SIDS deaths turns mysterious, and Lena begins to investigate, she becomes drawn into the mystery of her own past.

The present day mystery teamed with the mystery from the narrator’s past is what makes me compare this book to Into the Woods. But Origin has resolution, the one thing that Into the Woods lacked that also happened to piss me off and almost (but I refrained!) made me throw the book across the room in disgust. In contrast, I wanted to hug Origin when I was done (I refrained from the hug, too).

I was enjoying this book, but reading it slowly, which is not like me. But once I hit the halfway point, I could not put the book down. Seriously…I was even sneaking peeks when I shouldn’t have been (at work). And no, I wasn’t sneaking peeks at the end, which I tend to do…I actually read the whole book without giving in and checking out what was going to happen at the end. I think I deserve a gold star for that.

Part of what made this book so appealing was the setting. When the book starts, it’s winter in Syracuse, NY. And Abu-Jaber does such a good job of invoking the cold, and isolation, and dreariness, that let me just say there is no way (none!) that I am ever going to Syracuse (I’ve been to Green Bay, I think that’s enough snow and cold for me). As Lena starts to come out of her shell (a bit), winter gives way to spring. So there’re lots of analogies and whatever to be drawn.

I also enjoyed the characters. Lena is… a bit socially inept, a bit of a loner and reluctant to fully engage. Charlie is…well, Charlie is both the ex-husband and an ass. I loved Keller because he was able to both let Lena be and draw her out. There were other characters (Lena’s co-workers, her foster parents, her neighbors) and they were all vividly drawn.

And finally, there’s the resolution. I think Abu-Jaber did an excellent job with the ending. But I’m not going to tell you what happens, because hello? It’s a mystery.

So if you’ve read Into the Woods I dare you (okay, I double dog dare you) to go find a copy of this book (for once, you can’t have mine, because I gave it a friend at work) and read it. And then tell me which one you liked the most. And it better be Origin (just kidding. maybe). Me, I’m going to go track down more books by Abu-Jaber.

5 comment(s):

blueviolet said...

I like your review on this. You've sold me completely.

Traci said...

Great review. I'm adding this to my wishlist. Of course, your haiku review had me almost sold on it already.

Tracy said...

I don't normally read mysteries but your review made me want to try this one. I still need to get around to In The Woods too!

softdrink said...

Thanks everyone...I don't know anone else who has read this (yet), so I hope my review doesn't lead you astray!

Carrie K said...

im in love with creepy books...esp ones that you want to hug :)

now i just have to get my hands on a copy...

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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