Stacey (prettybooks)'s Reviews > Birthmarked

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
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Jan 03, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: read-after-university, dystopian-or-post-apocalyptic, read-in-my-twenties, young-adult-fiction
Read from November 15 to 20, 2011 , read count: 1

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 parents have been hiding something that the Enclave desperately wants and it's up to Gaia to decide whether to give up the information or rebel against authority and rescue her parents.

The story begins with a dramatic and heartbreaking scene; Gaia is in the middle of helping a young woman deliver her baby. This newborn is the first baby quota of the month, unbeknown to the mother who is under the impression that the quota has already been filled and she can keep her baby. We're instantly introduced to the harsh and unthinkable laws that the Enclave enforce. Caragh M. O’Brien's world-building is brilliant. There is a scientific basis behind the Enclave's laws, which makes the society more believable and terrifying. There's also a surprise for Gaia once she enters the Enclave - she realises that the split society isn't as simple as she first thought and she's faced with shocking reality.

Birthmarked has everything I could want in a young adult dystopian novel, including the inevitable romance. Gaia begins to develop a relationship with Leon, an Enclave guard. However, the romance is understandable, natural, and not at all contrived. Leon has his own back story, which isn't as desirable as Gaia first thought.

Birthmarked is an epic, thought-provoking dystopian novel. I've already picked up the sequel, Prized, and I'll be rooting for Gaia Stone all the way.

Dystopian or Not Dystopian? Dystopian

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
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Reading Progress

11/17/2011 page 55
15.0% 2 comments
11/18/2011 page 124
34.0% "I think the dystopian society's really interesting. I hope we find out more about it."
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Grace (new) - added it

Grace Is there any romance in this book?


Stacey (prettybooks) Yup!


message 3: by Shawyon (new)

Shawyon Shirazi I thought this was a really good book. This dystopian world is like no other, and I really do love how Caragh M. O'Brien really made the setting very detailed and realistic. The laws in the Enclave really do actually make sense such as the law of marrying and having children with someone related. Although the punishment isn't so ideal from the point of view of modern times, but the law really brings up a problem that is not so often taken in account to: hemophilia. These true overlooked problems in certain societies is one reason why I enjoyed this book simply because of its uniqueness by incorporating it into the story.


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