A surprising first novel set deep in the Amazonian rainforest.
Inside the electric fence surrounding the secret compound known as Little Cam, scientists have labored for years to create one immortal person. Pia, now 16, has lightning-fast reflexes, inexhaustible stamina, and a body impervious to sickness or injury. She is the perfect creation of the current lead scientist, whom she calls Uncle Paolo, but she is also his pawn, and her still-human soul has begun to chafe at the restrictions and isolation that surround her. When a storm causes a break in the fence, Pia ventures into the jungle, meeting and becoming intrigued by Eio, a boy her age belonging to a nearby tribe, the Ai'oans. Eio speaks English and knows more about Little Cam than Pia does about the outside world. Then a female scientist comes to Little Cam and bolsters Pia's growing sense of rebellion. Gradually she uncovers the secrets and tragedies that led to her immortality. Khoury's debut captures the lush rhythms of the rainforest. Her characters, dialogue and pacing are clean and accomplished, and the plot moves at breakneck speed. As the book progresses toward its emotionally satisfying but logically puzzling ending, cracks start to show in the science of her dystopian world, but by then readers will hardly notice—and will certainly easily forgive.
A teen thriller/romance without werewolves, wizards or vampires—utterly refreshing. (Science fiction. 13 & up)