Published by Roaring Book Press on 3/30/2010
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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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.
Birthmarked is what I would call a “classic” dystopian novel. It exemplifies the genre: it takes place in the future, the world has ruined itself, and humans – as well as other species – suffer a fate of their own making. And in response, they’ve devised a way to survive: by dividing the rich and the poor (because that always works, right?). But it’s not even so simple as that. The rich are a small population and inbreeding has caused them to not be able to reproduce anymore. Or when they do, they create children who are…less than desirable, who have genetic deformities. So the poor provide not just food sources and goods; they provide children as well. Children that the poor give up every month, so the rich can blindly adopt them, to “fix” their infertility problem. It’s chilling just to think about it. Gaia is a sector midwife, having learned the trade from her mother, when she delivers her first baby and she finds out her parents were arrested for “treason.” Rather than continue to provide to the Enclave, she sets out on a mission to rescue her parents from prison and – along the way – learns so much more than she ever bargained for. She finds out there’s more to her world than she knew and realizes how much disparity exists between her people and…them. I liked Birthmarked a lot! It was nothing like I expected it to be. Gaia was a strong character and very dedicated to her every action, whether it was birthing a child, rescuing her parents, or escaping confinement. The world O’Brien has built for us is so rich: I pictured every detail of the desolate and poor villagers outside the Enclave and the white, pristine cleanliness of the interior of the Enclave itself. O’Brien paints a sharp contrast between the two worlds separated by a mere wall, so sharp that one could easily imagine she got her inspiration from somewhere in our own reality. I would venture to say it is some of the best world-building I’ve ever read. O’Brien’s secondary characters could come to life right off the page. It’s as if she didn’t actually write them, but they were her muse so their story could be told. Leon was especially such an interesting character, immediately from the start. I loved him! He wasn’t just a simple soldier; he had depth and reasons for why he did what he did and where he was. I loved that about him. There are also a few character sub-plots woven throughout the novel to further drive home the main message of the novel and O’Brien has managed to do so very beautifully. They all fit together very well. And the best part about Birthmarked was the ending. What I was led to believe, I was so very wrong about and all I can say is…wow, Caragh O’Brien. I did NOT see that coming.
“Once I’m gone, be careful who you trust. Use your wits, Gaia,” the woman said. “Remember we’re all vulnerable. Especially if we love someone.” “You’ve got that wrong,” Gaia said, thinking of her parents. “It’s love that makes us strong.”
Similar Stories: Blood Red Road Disclaimers: This ebook was purchased with my hard-earned moolah but my review is still honest. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads.