Prized is the second book in the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien. This young adult novel follows Gaia Stone as she continues her journey through her dystopian society, trying to find the strength to stand for what she believes in.
Please note that this synopsis and my subsequent review may reveal some story lines from Birthmarked (book #1) and Tortured (bridge book #1.5)
Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?
I really enjoyed this novel. When I finished Birthmarked, I was very eager to continue the trilogy. It obviously took me some time to get around to it, but once I started Tortured all the memories of the plot lines in Birthmarked flooded back. The same happened when I began reading Prized. Birthmark left us hanging in the balance- wondering what would come of Gaia and baby Maya. Prized answered those questions. Gaia made it to the wasteland and found herself in a new society, Sylum. As she began to learn the rules of this new society, ruled by women, her beliefs were challenged. Prized allowed us a glimpse into Gaia's mind and her struggle to define her values and beliefs as she was taken in by Sylum. When Leon appears in the Sylum jail, things begin to shift inside Gaia. As she works out her own issues, Leon is doing the same. They both have a lot of baggage to sift through while they discover what they want in one another and what they want for their futures.
Prized kept me engaged and interested- the society that O'Brien built in Sylum was extremely consuming. There were some aspects that I did not find plausible, but for the most part, Sylum was a believable dystopian society. It was built by women (for women) and developed over years of control. I can see how in the beginning the society was formed to help sustain a simple life and continue their population.... and I can also see how the years changed the women, creating power and control hungry leaders. O'Brien also created a lot of depth of character in Gaia and Leon as they changed while living in Sylum. While reading Prized, I felt much more connection to all of the characters. They were fully developed and the characters in the shadows were also multidimensional . Prized had a strong internal struggle throughout the story, which I think really created a platform for character development.
Aside from the deep connection to Gaia's struggle, I thoroughly enjoyed Prized for its pace and constant movement. I remember feeling a bit stalled while reading Birthmarked, but I certainly didn't feel that way with Prized. The moments that it did lull, I was still anxiously awaiting the turn of the page. Again, O'Brien left us with another major cliffhanger at the completion of Prized. I would highly reccommend this book for young adult and dystopian fans alike. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Promised on Oct 2nd and cannot wait to download it to my Kindle and dive in!
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow