Book Review: Vitro

Published By: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Penguin's First to Read Program
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

Origin, Jessica Khoury's debut, was one of my favorite reads of 2012, so I had super high hopes for Vitro. While Vitro is not truly a sequel of Origin, they do have some common ground. Both novels focus on science being used to further advance the human race using ethically questionable methods. Both novels also feature characters who learn that everything they thought was true isn't reality. I'm actually happy that this wasn't a direct sequel as I felt like Origin ended perfectly.

Vitro takes the notice of in vitro fertilization and pushes it to the limit of technology. The scientific process is allowing labs to grow people and program them to be a certain type. For example, some Vitros are trained to be bodyguards while others are academic sorts. I found the notion of creating a human for specific purposes to be darkly thrilling and terrifying. I can only imagine what would happen if this technology truly existed and it makes me blood run cold. I have come to love the dilemmas that Khoury poses for her readers to ponder. What is truly more important: progress or free will? I found myself debating this issue frequently as I read. 

In addition to the thought provoking material, I also adore Khoury's writing style. Her descriptions are lush and vivid, her pacing is spot on, and she creates beautiful figurative language. Reading her novels is an experience that is difficult to describe. I am mesmerized by the settings she uses almost as much as the ethical debate. While I missed the jungles of the Amazon that I had grown to love while reading Origin, I know have added visiting Guam to my bucket list. Khoury does a fantastic job of making the island seem both alluring and mysterious. I'd love to see the sites that I experienced through Sophie, Jim, and Lux's eyes first hand.

While I did enjoy the writing and the story focus, I have to admit that I didn't like this one as much as Origin. I spent some time trying to figure out what made this one less appealing when so many of the things I enjoyed were present. I finally arrived at the conclusion that it was the characters. I didn't dislike Sophie and Jim, but I didn't form a connection with them like I did with Pia and Eio. 

Overall, I liked Vitro and would recommend it to fans of science fiction. It poses some interesting questions that are relevant. Medicine and science continue to evolve; I for one, find that stories that use realistic elements to stretch the imagination on these topics, immensely enjoyable.

One Last Gripe: Because I got this ARC through First to Read, I had to read it on my laptop. I found this tedious and annoying. I found myself reading this one quickly which allowed for little time to savor the rich writing. I prefer to read on my Kindle and plan to reread this one in the future at a more leisurely pace. This is truly a personal gripe and in no way impacted my review.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: the purpose and creation of the Vitros

First Sentence: "Skin Island," Sophie said for what felt like the hundredth time.

Favorite Character: Jim

Least Favorite Character: Strauss

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.


  1. What a great review, I am hoping to read the galley that I have of this one, within the next couple of months. I really enjoyed the first book and I've been hearing some pretty good things about this one. :)


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