OriginOrigin by Diana Abu-Jaber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

libraries are the single best thing to happen to readers since the invention of moveable type. having libraries means that one does not always have to pay for fairly meh books.

i downloaded this one from the digital library as an audiobook. there were 12 parts to it, but somehow only 11 downloaded. i think perhaps the library was, in a cyber-maternal way, looking out for me, trying to save me from my choices.

so! this book. our heroine is a fingerprint analyst at a NY (not NYC, thank god) police department. one day a hysterical woman awaits her at her office, freaking about how our fingerprint analyst is the only one who can solve her baby’s murder. everyone else is pretty convinced the child died of SIDS, but our heroine smells a rat.

sort of literally. our heroine has an amazing sense of smell. this near-canine ability comes as a result of having been reared by apes in some unnamed jungle after a plane crash kills off her parents. found at age 3, she is taken in by a flaming narcissist mother and a limp dishrag father.

wtf? i nearly quit listening right there, but some spirit of masochism forced me to continue. i don’t know why literary self-punishment was on the menu for the week, but i listened on.

our heroine is separated from a swaggering control freak named charlie and is also being courted by an impossibly nurturing detective named kellet or something like that. i forget. anyway as it becomes clear that the baby was in fact murdered, along with a number of other infants, it also slowly dawns that the murderer is, unsurprisingly, also after our heroine.


so so so many cliche elements in this book… so many plot holes you could drive a dump truck through on your way to pulp the entire print run of this book… so much utter improbability.

but the book does have one good thing–sensory description. presumably our heroine, having been reared by nature, is super-sensitive to it. whatevs. the writer does have a great way of making a natural scene come alive–scent, light, the feel of things in nature. so yep, that’s what i listened for through all the eyerolling at the dross.

this lady should write stuff set in the great outdoors–she should make an Anna Pigeon-like detective, if she’s stuck on detective fiction. stop listening to whatever agents or editors want her to ratchet up her conflict or whatever bad advice she got. she could be great, if she’d play to her strengths as a writer.