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(Birthmarked #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  47,803 ratings  ·  3,670 reviews
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has a ...more
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Roaring Brook Press
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  47,803 ratings  ·  3,670 reviews

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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
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A young adult-themed take on a future city in the US in which 2 social groups vie for scarce commodities, the one inside the wall gets all the best things and the people outside the wall have to make do. The outsiders, who in exchange for a few crumbs from the table, have to give up a number of babies each month. That's right, I said babies. A young girl training to be a midwife, like her mother on the outside of the wall, accepts this way of life as it is all she has ever known until her parent ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

*Read my review of all 3 books in the series before deciding whether to read this!

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. Ga
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
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 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I've read it a few times already. *smile!* ...more
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars.

It is somewhat different to other novels of this genre, due mostly to the heroin being a midwife.
I enjoyed it, but it does have different moments of intensity. It engaged me more at some times than others, however, there are some situations that are definitely memorable.

This book could work just as well if the characters were older.

I´ll keep reading this series.

Book 2: Prized - 4.5 stars
Book 3: Promised - 2.5 stars
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-10, own, debs10
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
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 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Grace A.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I did not feel emotionally invested in the characters and the storyline even when the stakes were high.

I felt like the story moved a bit slower than I desired, and precious moments was spent describing irrelevant props in some scenes.

I struggled to finish this book and will probably not continue with the other books in the series.
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
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
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker
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
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Karen’s Library
Mar 27, 2017 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-
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 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 finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy and I was looking for ...more
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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. :(
Oct 06, 2016 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 :) ...more
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
BriaKnits & Reads
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From the beginning, this book had me on my toes. I love the way the author really drew you in from the first page with intrigue and the thrill of walking in the same footsteps as our main character, Gaia, a young woman who grows up in a world thinking that life is just black and white. As the story progresses, Gaia slowly begins to discover that the black and white world she felt comfortable in, was in fact filled with many gray areas and it was just really exciting to go on the adventure with G ...more
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
May 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 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 abo
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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 earned her BA from Williams College and her MA from Johns Hopkins University. Once a high school English teacher, she resigned to write young adult novels. For more information, visit ...more

Other books in the series

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

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