Jessica's Reviews > Birthmarked

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
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's review
Dec 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult-fiction, science-fiction
Read from November 20 to December 08, 2011

A couple of caveats: I don't like dystopian fiction or most sci-fi, and I don't read a lot of YA novels. I picked up this book because the author's sister is a friend of mine and I enjoyed it in spite of my prejudices. It is The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid's Tale. Gaia Stone is a young midwife in the 25th century, after global warming decimates the Earth's population and a few privileged survivors retreat to the Enclave. Outside the wall, Gaia and her mother deliver babies and "advance" a quota of healthy infants to the Enclave. When Gaia's parents are arrested, she sneaks through the walls to learn their fate, and finds the mythology of the Enclave differs from the reality.

So, I couldn't get through The Hunger Games. I can see why people think that book is well-written but it depressed the heck out of me and the protagonist felt too powerful to be real. O'Brien's writing can get clunky at times but she keeps the story moving and Gaia's bravery stands out not because she is particularly strong or wise, but because she questions her own choices and yet does not falter when she must confront her fears or the results of her decisions. I also appreciated that O'Brien made her political points without anvils. A couple of the plot twists felt unwieldy but most of them worked.

Does that mean fans of The Hunger Games will find this book disappointing? I have no idea. I cared about the characters and wanted to know what happened next, which is what I want from my genre fiction. Support a St. Paul native and pick up Birthmarked; it is the first in a trilogy and the second book just came out.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Jennifer This totally looks like it's up my alley.

Jessica I will send it to you when I finish it.

Jennifer You are too nice. Thanks!

Jessica I will just toss it into the Christmas box with the coal and fruitcake.

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