I was so incredibly excited to get Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien.  It was a book I jotted down to purchase after reading a review online... I can't remember who wrote it, although I really wish I did because it was a GREAT review.  Anyways, I had my little post-it note with the title and author in my wallet for what seemed like a century.  Every single time I went to Barnes & Noble, they never had it in stock.  I was perpetually disappointed... until one day, when I wandered around and spotted it. Finally! It was pure bliss- I had been so interested in reading this novel. I absolutely hyped it up  in my mind too- knowing it had been hard to find made it all the more intriguing!

So.. what is this dystopian YA novel all about?...

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
Overview from Barnes & Noble

Gaia Stone is living in a changed world, in the not so distant future.  There are two worlds, divided by concrete.  Inside the walls is a life full of promise. Outside the walls in the harsh reality of a changed planet and a controlling government.  Forced to serve those who live inside the walls- the Enclave- Gaia fills a monthly "baby quota".  Her mother is also a midwife, who taught Gaia everything she knows about birthing babies and turning them over to the Enclave.
One evening Gaia returns from a birth to an empty home- her mother and her father are gone.  Taken by the Enclave.  Gaia is greeted by a stranger, who questions her before reminding her that she still has a quota to fill, especially now that he mother has gone.
Gaia is filled with questions and looks for answers as she goes about her daily life.  When she uncovers a list bearing a code, she realizes how deep this mystery goes. As she raises more questions, she becomes bolder.  Gaia risks everything to find her mother and father.  She enters the world of the Enclave to search for answers and for the only family she knows.  Willing to risk a life in prison- even death, Gaia challenges all that she has come to know about her world.

I psyched myself up for Birthmarked- I was thrilled to get my hands on it. While my socks weren't blown off, I certainly enjoyed it.  This YA novel had a lot to offer and a lot to think about.  The idea of a changed landscape is a pressing issue.  Controlling governments and their presence- how involved should the government be in your life? The moral implications of a "baby quota", what is considered an acceptable baby, sub-par healthcare and conditions, and the promise of a "better life" to babies turned over to the Enclave are all topics worth exploring.
I also enjoyed the novel because I liked Gaia.  She had a strong sense of self and her character really shone through all that was going on.  It was a busy novel with a TON to think about, but I still felt that Gaia held my attention.  I was drawn to her and the mystery of the seizing of her parents.  The baby quota also drew me in- why would they need babies from outside the wall? Why are the women within the Enclave having babies?- can they?
When a list appears and the code is shown to the reader, I was desperately trying to figure it out.  I even went ahead and paused my reading to try and figure it out! That is something I rarely do. Of course, I wasn't able to figure it out, so I furiously read on to witness the cracking of the code.
As the mysteries unfold and the plot thickens, I stayed glued to this book. I must admit that the book does have some dull spots which I had to troop through, but the reader is well rewarded!
Lucky for me, this is a series (I had no idea of it until I added it to my Goodreads account!).  The next book in this series is Prized and the third is Promised, which is due out this October. There is also a FREE eBook Tortured, which is a "bridge story between Birthmarked and Prize".  Apparently, many of O'Brien's fans wanted to know about Leon, so she published this FREE eBook!  It is available for both the Nook and the Kindle.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of these books.  I would definitely recommend this book to YA fans and dystopian fans... even those who are just looking for a bit of mystery.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

1 comment:

  1. OMG, i had never heard of this book until now BUT i need to read it :) any mention of birth/midwife and i'm in and dystopian even better haha. Well i am a midwife lol. Thanks for bringing this to my attention :) x