Clare Cannon's Reviews > Prized

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
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's review
Nov 07, 2011

it was ok
Read from September 28 to October 08, 2011

This is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write, both because the book left me heartbroken, and because it was so confusing that it left me quite exhausted. It is also difficult because I highly respect the author, especially for her openness to honest feedback, and though I disagree with some of the things in this book I continue to respect her and will eagerly await whatever else she may write. The other difficulty is that the themes dealt with are highly controversial, and yet they are too important to leave undiscussed.

I considered the first book in this series, Birthmarked, to be a rare find in contemporary YA literature. In my review I couldn’t praise it highly enough.

Some of these qualities can be seen (somewhat faintly) in Prized, but it is a completely new story in a different place with different people and different values.

In general terms the story seems to have lost its ‘epic’ quality: while Birthmarked created a logical and coherent world and told the story of one girl’s place in it, this book is more about the ups and downs of Gaia’s personal struggles, and the ‘world outside’ in Sylum (her new home) sometimes seems a mere backdrop. This book also places more emphasis on emotions and physical appearance than the first, and it is a lot more morally confusing.

Feelings determine right and wrong
I must acknowledge Gaia’s admirable appreciation for honesty and her earnestness in wanting to do what is right. However, in Prized, Gaia’s earnestness is set above the question of whether or not she acts rightly, and so her moral choices become cloudy. She no longer asks ‘what is the right thing to do?’, but rather ‘do I feel right about this?’

There are many examples of this that I would have preferred to know about before reading the book, and perhaps others may too... things to do with rebellion, romance, and especially life issues.

(view spoiler)

That’s about all I can say for now; there are other good and not so good things in Prized but it would take a book to explore them all. And though book one looks a little different in the light of book two, I still think Birthmarked was one of the best YA I’ve read in a long time. Prized is taking time to get over, but as we learned in Birthmarked, there’s always hope.
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Reading Progress

09/28/2011 "so excited!!!"
09/29/2011 "heartbroken"

Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Jennifer I'm so sad to see that you didn't like this one as much as the first. I've been eagerly anticipating this sequel...

Jennifer I'll still read Prized, of course, it's just that I really, really wanted it to be as incredible as Birthmarked.

Clare Cannon me too, I so loved the first one, but there were some things I just couldn't get over in this one... review is in progress.

message 4: by joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* no, no, no!!
once you said spoilers, i didn't read the rest -- could you give a cleanreads rating?

message 5: by Julie (new)

 Julie what a thoughtful and honest review, I know that was difficult for you, but at the same time very important knowledge for a reader to have prior to reading the book, particularly a YA

Clare Cannon Yes it's pretty clean, a little bit too much information - more than the first, but fairly brief. The abortion issue was the most disappointing for me, it seemed so different to the first book. And the characters' change of character...

message 7: by joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* okay. thanks for the info!

Clare Cannon you're welcome :)
And thanks Julie, it was really hard because this author is such a lovely person, and I don't live close enough to give her a hug.

message 9: by Marianne (new)

Marianne Good review, I particularly liked your point about the obvious lack of support when it comes to unplanned pregnancies. Someone in that position is probably at their most vulnerable - a time when they really need positive support rather than negative pressure.

Pauline Thank you Clare! I certainly appreciate that we can all take a closer look at each book and not lump a series together as either good or not.

Clare Cannon Thanks Pauline, yes sometimes it's necessary... and maybe book 3 can be different too!

message 12: by Amy (new)

Amy S Wow, what a great review. Lots of thought and insight.

Clare Cannon Thanks Amy, I hope it's helpful :)

message 14: by Tressa (new) - added it

Tressa (Wishful Endings) Thanks for the review. I own the first one and was planning on just purchasing this one, but now I will get it from the library. I'm pretty picky about what I keep on my shelves, especially with kids who will one day read them.

Amanda I agree. I can't get over her helping Peony to kill her baby.

Amanda Good move. I agree with you.

Andrea Smith I just finished reading Prized and had a lot of the same feelings you did. I'm actually surprised and saddened that more people didn't mention the abortion issues. Thanks for the review.

Clare Cannon Thanks Andrea, I guess it was hard to know what to say, it's such a difficult issue - but I'm surprised how many people feel the same. Thanks for your comment :)

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I really liked your review. I will say I don't put that much thought into a read but you are right on with your points about this book.

Clare Cannon Thanks Katie, I write for a few literature blogs and work in a bookstore which makes me consider what I read more than I probably would otherwise - people are always asking what we think of books and why, it's hard work but I love it!

Caterina Great review! I totally agree, I felt like Gaia and Leon were completely different people in this book - in their characters, motivations, and relationship. I also thought it was strange that Will/Peter seems to have fallen in love with her at first sight. Anyways, hope the 3rd one is more like the first!

Clare Cannon Thanks for your comment Caterina, it would be great if the next one could be more like the first!

Magdalen Dobson I really liked your review! You expressed just about everything I felt about that book's merits and flaws.

message 24: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Clare, thanks for the great review. I am sorry that this book took this turn. I am taking it off my to-read list even though I really enjoyed "Birthmarked". I am tired of the societal change from do what is right to do what feels right. Keep up the insightful reviews they are appreciated

Clare Cannon Thanks Jenn! Yes the 'feels right' approach is almost take for granted - I thought C S Lewis' Abolition of Man was very insightful on how the thinking of society could turn in that direction so quickly.

Clare Cannon And thanks Magdalen - let's hope book 3 picks up again :)

Jessica Although I don't agree entirely with your review; I respect your fairness towards the author's view points. While maintaining yours. Reminds me of Gaia. ; )

message 28: by Tris&four (new)

Tris&four Hi, ive completely forgot what happened at the end of Prized and i loaned the book to a friend and she lost it also i cant find the answer online, could you tell me please ? :)

Elisabeth I completely agree with you. It seemed to me that half the book was the author trying to convince readers why abortion - MURDERING a BABY - is good and moral. Besides that, the book was great. I hope the last book in the trilogy is more like the first book, though. Great review!

Heathera diddo

Shannie Well said, I agree completely.

message 32: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Interesting. This was my favorite book of the series. Yes I did roll my eyes a bit at the the thought of yet *another* YA love triangle, but it's got to be inevitable for people falling in love so competely, so young. She's 16, has never had a boyfriend and now is the new, mysterious girl in a town with a woman shortage. Of course they all want her. That's how life works. It seems sad to me that the negative reviews of this book are taking the predicable side. Welcome to the world of's part of the gig. I admire the bravery of Ms. O'Brien to tackle it and to have Gaia stand on the side of choice for Peony even though she admitted it was something she would not choose herself. But my favorite part of this book is the complex, tangled mess of a relationship with Leon. It was so raw and honest. There were a couple of chapters that left me gutted. That, to me, is a good read.

message 33: by Robin (new) - rated it 1 star

Robin Thank you for so thoroughly nailing down the things that were making me increasingly uncomfortable as I read this second book. WELL SAID!

message 34: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole I am passionately pro-life and this book bothered me too! :(

message 35: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Pappas I stopped reading it. The first one was so good too!!! And clean.

message 36: by Julie (new)

Julie Thanks for review. It is nice when someone writes a review and addresses the morality of it.

message 37: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Yes - exactly. You perfectly stated every thought and frustration I experienced while
reading this book. That said, I still enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next book.

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