Nafiza's Reviews > Birthmarked

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
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Jul 08, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-2010, favourites
Read from August 06 to 07, 2010

So I began reading this when Catching Fire and I were having problems and then this one got put away while I glomped the other. Then I returned to this novel and we started having problems too. Mostly because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that the protagonist could take children away from their mothers and hand them over to the “Enclave.” But I persevered with my reading and, ultimately, am glad I did so because this book, out of all the others I have read (even Hunger Games), shows one of the most possible repercussions to our society should we continue to advance in the way we are currently doing. The Enclave consists of a select population of people who live a life of seeming grandeur and luxury when compared to those outside the walls of the Enclave. The poor people outside subsist on peeks inside and whatever tidbits the Enclave chooses to show them. Gaia is a midwife – like her mother. It is her job to “advance” the first three infants born every month to the Enclave. She doesn’t closely question her job in the beginning because to her, going into the Enclave is an escape from the poverty outside. Then her parents are arrested for no reason she can fathom and instead of listening to her mother’s assistant, she finds her way into the Enclave and what she finds there, changes her entire perception of the so-called Utopian world in the Enclave.

At first, I thought Gaia was self-righteous and not very interesting and this was what presented the biggest barrier in my reading. Then as the story continued and her character developed (and she grew some backbone, became more interesting) the plot became more engaging. The imperfect hero who helps her despite his own troubles. The people inside the Enclave who could have easily been portrayed in a negative light but aren’t. The coldness of the villains and the warmth of family. The losses and within that loss, the gains. Sacrifice, betrayal and discovery. Birthmarked, which is certainly the first of a series, finds its strength in not just its characters but also the entirely realistic portrayal of some future society. It paints a possible destination for the human race and it’s a chilling foreseeing of where we or our descendants might end up. I find it even more compelling because Ms. O’Brian took the time to present the case from both sides of the issue, going as far as to explain to the reader why the Enclave is acting as they are. She lets you understand their perspective instead of taking the easy way out and casting them in a villainous right. But she also reminds you that just because you understand their motives and actions does not in the least make them right.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games. While the books are not identical, they have the same three things in common: compelling characters, a message and a fast paced plot.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Nazia (new) - added it

Nazia Shafik sounds interesting... I like your choice in books =)

Nafiza Hehe. I wish getting them were easy.

Nafiza Okay, I didn't realize this was a dystopian novel too.

Bethany i got this from the library a couple months ago, i only got about 20 pages in and put it down to read something else. I'll wait for your review to see if i made the wrong choice, lol

Nafiza I'm like 28 pages in and the protagonist has not made herself my friend. I ditched her to go back to Catching Fire.

Nafiza Okay, I changed my mind. The story picks up after page 50.

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