Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Page Count: 361

Rating: 4/5

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be “advanced” into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.

Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

I’m so glad that I decided to pick this up when I was at the library even though I’ve heard next to nothing about it. Now that I’ve finished I’m kind of curious as to why I haven’t heard more, it’s a great read and deserves attention.

The plot involves a rather unique twist on the typical dystopian society that gives it a far more personal feel to it. Babies are born and in order to meet a quota they immediately handed over to the more privileged society called The Enclave hidden behind a wall. The mothers have no say in it, and they are expected to cooperate completely. There is something about it that really gets to me. As the story progresses it doesn’t really get any easier even though you come to understand the reasoning behind everything. It actually put me in a spot that I rarely find myself in when it comes to dystopians, I didn’t really blame anyone for following along in the path set for them. I do blame those in charge because they could actually improve things for everyone, but I found myself understanding everyone else who lives under them and sees what they are doing as ‘good’. I really like the fact that it made me stand on that fine line and see both sides of it. The writing style is fantastic and I liked the way it flowed, though it was a bit slow to get to the point in the beginning. I also thought the clever use of codes was a nice touch. She also gets points for using a few names linked to myths and lore.

The main character, Gaia, is quite interesting and I liked her for the most part. There were times when I just wanted her to be quiet about her scar and move on. I understand that she’s self conscious about it but I just wanted her to stop pointing it out to herself, it was almost like she was punishing herself for forgetting. She is a strong character though and I envy her ability to not give up even when things are at their most dire, I know for a fact that if one of the events had happened to me I would have lost it. Leon is a great counter-point to Gaia and he really had me wondering what his deal was. I liked the way they interact with each other and also the evolution of their relationship, given their different backgrounds it makes it quite interesting to see how they work around the obvious strain it puts on them. I might also mention that I think this is one of the few YA novels where I actually liked the parents, they come off as really caring and brave individuals. The characters have a depth that really makes you care about their futures and that makes the story even richer.

Overall it’s a great dystopian and I can’t wait to read the second one, especially since the ending left me wanting more.

You can purchase Birthmarked here on Amazon:

Birthmarked (Birthmarked Trilogy)

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2012) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

  1. This is one of my favorite series and it does not get enough attention! Great review!

  2. zettew says:

    I enjoyed your review! I’m very into dystopian type novels right now, and loved finding a new one to add to my TBR list!

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