Jan 23, 2014

Vitro by Jessica Khoury Review

Vitro by Jessica Khoury
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill; 384 pages
On Skin Island, even the laws of creation can be broken.

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. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.

Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

I went into this skeptical.  I wasn't a big fan of Origin.  And if I had known ahead of time that it was a spin off of Origin I probably wouldn't have picked it up.  But this one is different.  I think one of my main issues with Origin was it was told from a character's point of view that I wasn't too fond of.  I recently had a conversation with a friend about how a story's point of view can drastically affect your enjoyment of a book.  Have you ever read a story that had a great plot, but it was told from first person and the character annoyed you?  Well that can make or break a story for me.

Vitro is told from mostly two point of views, with a few chapters told from another character.  Being told by two point of views helps flesh the story out a lot.  First there is Sophie, who has spent her whole life chasing after and worshiping her mother.  And then there is Jim, a fun loving pilot whose point of view I enjoyed the most.  Jim just seemed so realistic to me, and so normal.  I found a lot of his responses to be very believable.  Plus his dialogue was just a fun read.  I found myself laughing out loud at a few parts.

The premise of the story is very good.  Sophie receives a distressed email from her mother telling her she needs to see her as soon as possible.  She hops on a plane to Guam.  And after unsuccessfully finding a pilot to fly her to the mysterious Skin Island, she finds one in Jim, an old childhood friend who is now a pilot.  From there the story begins.  I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Sophie and Jim.  It made me think of a friend from my own childhood.  It's something that everyone can relate to.  What would it be like to reunite with someone from your past?  Is it truly like riding a bike, or is it more like assembling something piece by piece?

This story is definitely science fiction.  There were a few parts that had me a little confused.  When the Vitros are introduced, and their background was explained, I had to reread it to fully understand it.  And when imprinting was brought up, I am not gonna like I almost flounced on the book immediately.  There is just something about imprinting that's always rubbed me the wrong way.  The idea of it is just bizarre.  But something told me not to quit on this story.  And I am glad I didn't.  Halfway through the book there were so many twist and turns that had me so intrigued that I finished the second half of the book in one sitting.

The villains of the story keeps it so fresh.  Strauss was definitely a favorite.  She's pretty much evil through and through.  As I was reading I imagined it so much like a movie.  It was definitely a different experience for me in reading.  I usually don't read like that.  But I was pretty much casting this book as I read.

I can't end this review without talking about the actual Vitros.  Lux was such a unique character, but I was very happy that there were only a few chapters from her point of view.  It was cool to see inside her mind, but less was definitely more when it came to her.  The idea of humans creating life, or in this case altering genetics can be very scary.  As amazing as science is, sometimes we can take things too far.  This story is the perfect example of that, and it deals with the consequences.  I love how you can read Origin and Vitro as standalones, or connect the dots between the two.  I wouldn't be against another spin off of the tales of the organization of Corpus.

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