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Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  40,053 Ratings  ·  3,392 Reviews
In the future, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like 16-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia delivers babies, then hands a quota over to be 'advanced' into the privileged society of the Enclave. She has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested.
Paperback, 361 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's (first published March 30th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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the fact that i can't think of a single thing to say about this book should be review enough, right? and yet, that could be misconstrued as one of those "if you don't have anything nice to say" remarks. and that's not it. it was a "good" "read," i am just having difficulty saying anything interesting tonight.

i will just sit here and hope the votes pour in without any effort on my part...



okay, i will give it a go.

yes, yes, it is another YA dystopia. (half of you have officially tuned ou
Clare Cannon
Jan 24, 2011 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 13 years - adults
Recommended to Clare by: Rated Reads

I cannot wait for the sequel! I thought this would be a heavy read, but I was so wrong. It is everything a gripping dystopian should be, but has wonderful characters who grow through adversity and whose experiences afford powerful insights into what is most important in life.

A dark future world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those - like sixteen year old Gaia Stone - who live outside. Gaia was trained as a midwife by her mother, and it's now her job to "advance" a quota
Dec 15, 2011 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 60-books-in-2011
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The premise seemed really interesting, but the book just fell flat. Gaia was just boring and the rest of the characters were flat and underdeveloped. I honestly didn't understand why everyone was risking their life to help her because she wasn't inspiring and her cause for the most part helped only her, no one else (saving her parents). I also didn't understand the need to separate the people from the Enclave and those outside the wall, since the Enclave ...more
Sep 29, 2009 Caragh added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I've read it a few times already. *smile!*
Feb 26, 2010 Tatiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to read about babies and birthing
An ARC of "Birthmarked" was gifted to me by my friend, so I feel kind of bad for giving this book such a low rating, but at the same time I don't want to sugar coat it either. The thing is, "Birthmarked" is not one of those horrid books that I despise for awful writing or atrocious characters ("Evermore" and "Hush, Hush" come to mind). It is not bad, but it is simply boring and unremarkable. To be honest, only a marginally interesting premise kept me skimming last 200 pages of the book instead o ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Reynje rated it really liked it
This book and I got on a plane together, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that we were both trapped in a small space with little else to do, we might have parted ways early on.

I didn’t step smoothly into the first few chapters of Birthmarked. My reading experience sort of tripped, stumbled, almost face-planted. At first the writing seemed quite dense and strangely... formal? I had some difficulty getting my head into the world – possibly due to some pre-conceived ideas I had about the book, w
Steph Su
Sep 30, 2009 Steph Su rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, debs10, best-of-10
Words fail to adequately describe how astonishingly completely Caragh O’Brien drew me into Gaia’s dystopian world in this debut YA novel. Holy cow! BIRTHMARKED is a layered and action-packed dystopian treat that just might satisfy readers eagerly awaiting the third and final installment of The Hunger Games series.

I am absolutely bowled over by how well-written this book is. Caragh O’Brien presents us with interesting characters that we want to follow through all their suspenseful adventures and
Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
Such a good dystopian book!

I love the world that was created. It seemed so realistic and could even be true. I wanted to know more about the mycroprotein though. The different societies and how each are vastly different but also not free. I pretty much devoured this in two sittings. Especially with that ending, reminding me so much of Delirium's ending. Also I like how there wasn't a focus on romance. She was very set on helping her parents until the very end, love her growth. Started out as tim
Katherine C.
May 10, 2011 Katherine C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacey (prettybooks)
Gaia Stone lives in a dystopian society that's split in two: the rich, privileged members live inside the walled Enclave while the rest, including Gaia, live in poverty Outside. It is an acquiesced law that the first three babies born every month will be "advanced" into the Enclave to be brought up by the elite. Gaia happily serves the Enclave as a midwife, alongside her mother, until she comes home one night to find that her mother and father have been arrested. Gaia has been told that her pare ...more
May 16, 2016 Renata rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sinceramente este libro lo cogí de la biblioteca la semana pasada por que me llamaba bastante la atención y estuvo bien, sí, pero no la gran cosa. En un principio la historia es muy lenta pero como empieza explicando las cosas va bien para situarte, pero llega cierto punto donde cansa mucho. Hacía mitad-final del libro hay bastante acción y fue eso lo que más me enganchó e hizo que no dejara el libro en la página que me había quedado. Realmente no pensaba que me iba a encantar ni que lo iba a od ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Karin Librarian for

Gaia (Guy-ya) Stone is following in her mother's footsteps. She has been training to be a midwife for years and is ready to accept her role in the community. For as long as she can remember, life on the outside of the wall has been this way.

The first three babies of the month are advanced to the Enclave to be adopted and live their life inside the wall. While the pain of losing a child is great, the mothers know that their baby will be living in a
Caragh O’Brien’s book Birthmarked tells the story of a world where the state is able to take infants away from their mothers by quota. Set approximately 300 years into the future, the world is a bleak place. Resources have dwindled, lakes have dried up and become “unlakes,” and a portion of the population has difficulty conceiving.

The Enclave is a walled city where its citizens enjoy many of the better things in life – food, running water, motion sensing lights, and an education. The Enclave is
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
I went into this book with a bad attitude. I seriously did not want to like it (yeah, I know why the heck did I have the book and why was I reading it if I had a bad attitude...long story). Anyways, I was ready and willing to compare every part of this book to The Hunger Games, which I did. I couldn't help it. I automatically assume that O'Brien wrote this book due to the success of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Even if O'Brien wrote the book without thinking of The Hunger Games, in my nar ...more
Arielle Walker
Finally what I've been looking for - a decent dystopian fiction with likeable, multi-dimensional characters (including a tough-as-nails heroine), an interesting plot and world set-up, and writing that isn't utterly appalling.

The premise is fairly simple: a classic futuristic walled society scenario, where those inside the wall (the Enclave) are rich and privileged, while those who live outside the walls mostly depend on help given by the Enclave. Water is a necessity and used in some ways as cur
Apr 15, 2010 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Birthmarked is a thrilling, action-packed dystopian by 2010 YA debut author Caragh O’Brien. I was in the mood to read a good, satisfying dystopian and Birthmarked really fit the bill. This book should satisfy those looking for something similar to the Hunger Games with its intrigue, mystery and suspense.

The dystopian world is set up very well, with a plausible concept, and the characters are compelling. The protagonist, midwife Gaia Stone, is brave and faces danger at every turn. Her parents kep
Gaia Stone's family has always faithfully served the Enclave. Her father makes his living as a simple tailor, and her mother is a midwife, delivering the first three babies of every month to the Enclave for compensation. Now sixteen-years-old, Gaia is finally able to step into her mother's lead and deliver babies on her own. There isn't any tension between her family and the Enclave until one night Gaia's parents are arrested without any explanation. Gaia learns more about what really goes on in ...more
May 23, 2010 elissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to elissa by: Captiol Choices
Definitely had a good start, but I found it to be slightly uneven. Dystopic futuristic atmosphere was very good, and reminded me of Handmaid's Tale, partly because of the reproductive aspects involved in the plot. World building good, characters interesting, plot was compelling and moved the reader along. I guess sometimes the coincidences didn't always work for me (like when the main character meets just the person who can help her in an alley--a man who she's never met before--right when she n ...more
Oct 06, 2016 Carla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something between 3/4 stars...I liked some things and I didn't like other things and I don't want to spoil anything so I'll talk about this later :)
Mar 27, 2017 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian
Birthmarked pretty much had me from the first few pages! My friends have been telling me that I'd enjoy these books and, as usual, they're right! I started and finished this one in one day and it's been a very long time since that's happened!

Gaia is a midwife in a society where the people who live on the outside of the wall are willing to give their newborns up so they will be raised in better circumstances on the inside of the wall.

This story was very gripping and full of discoveries with non-
4.5 stars

This book should come with a warning: Heartbreak ahead

Birthmarked was a book I had been thinking about since I first knew it existed several months ago, so I was pleased to get hold of a copy. I was even more pleased to find this was a book I enjoyed hugely. Injecting the dystopian genre with some new ideas, it definitely had me glued to the pages.

Society is divided between those who live inside the wall and those who live outside. Those inside enjoy a life of luxury and privilege, whil
Jul 17, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

If I remember correctly, and I am 99.9% sure, I read this book during my exchange year in the US. For my English 12 class we were required to read at least 3 books per semester for further analysis, presentations, homework, etc about them. Now, 3 books per semester? 6 books per year? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I read over 35 books that year even though I had to study hard for my Spanish A-Levels (we call it Selectividad). Anyway I had just fi
I would give this 2.5 stars. It wasn't terrible and would probably appeal and be good for a younger audience.
For me however, I seriously wasn't even very interested until page 180! This book fit a spot in a challenge, so I was determined to finish. I started out with the audio, and the narrator did a big injustice to an already slow moving storyline. The main character was supposed to be a strong resourceful heroine but the narrator made her seem timid and flat. Her voice inflections were off an
Set about 300 years in the future, after the "cool age" (which seems to represent both the time during which we were dependent on oil and possibly pre-serious global warming), this dystopian novel hits all the usual notes: babies born with genetic problems (here, due to inbreeding), a division between the haves and have-nots, babies taken from families are reared elsewhere, etc..

The Enclave's insistence on perfection is what ultimately saves Gaia (yep, the name is significant), who has a disfig
Steph Sinclair

I really wanted to love this book, but sadly I did not. I felt that it just dragged on and was a bit anti-climatic for me. I tried to connect with the characters and I just couldn't. Another reviewer mentioned the characters seemed more like rough sketches and I have to agree. In the end, I had to force myself to finish the book.

It seems like there will be a sequel and I'll think I'll give it another shot. But for now it's pretty far down on my list. :(
May 23, 2010 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Sigh. I love dystopian novels. I mean really love them. The worldbuilding is so intricate and unique, the struggles are so real, and the power of the human spirit is all over every page. I'd heard great things about this book before it was picked as a May Blog With Bite selection; pretty much across the board, the book didn't really live up to my expectations. Set phasers to stun, then, and read on.

Birthmarked took a long time to get going. I was totally okay with there being a lot of lead in be
Feb 27, 2015 Imani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Finally, a breakthrough. I loved this book. The writing was amazing, the plot clutched at your heart, and it was hard to put down. It was engaging from the first chapter to the last.

The mother stared at her, shock and horror shifting across her face. "You can't," she whispered. "You can't take my baby. She's mine."
"I have to," Gaia said, backing away. "I'm sorry."

I've read a lot of dystopian books. This is the first time I've been so effected emotionally from one. It's one thing to read abou
LH Johnson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2010 Milly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, dystopia
I actually enjoyed this book despite the mix reviews it garnered. It helped that I had no preconceived notions or expectations upon reading it. I found the premise and the plot intriguing and refreshing as I've never encountered any dystopian book with the same themes especially with regards to the codes and cryptology in this book. I love mystery and code breaking and I felt that the codes in this book, though not as sophisticated and intricate as the ones in the DaVinci Code, were interesting ...more
Isa Lavinia
I have nothing but great things to say about Birthmarked, it's one of those books that went into my favourite shelf as soon as I had finished reading it.

Quite honestly, I've lost count of how many people I've recommended it to.

Birthmarked does a wonderful thing which has become rarer and rarer these days: it focuses on the plot without letting it be overwhelmed by the romance, BUT without relegating the romance to the role of an afterthought.

The plot is strong and addictive. Really, is there a
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Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS series, both from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O'Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University. She recently resigned from teaching high school English in order to write young adult novels. For more information, visit http://www.caraghobri ...more
More about Caragh M. O'Brien...

Other Books in the Series

Birthmarked (3 books)
  • Prized (Birthmarked, #2)
  • Promised (Birthmarked, #3)

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“There are some things, once they are done, that we can never question, because if we did, we wouldn't be able to go on. And we have to go on, every single day.” 145 likes
“Even the worst feeling, with time and familiarity, became tolerable.” 72 likes
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