Lesley's Reviews > Birthmarked

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
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's review
Sep 22, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, teen

Birthmarked will please readers who are looking for more dystopian sf, but it's not my favorite entry in the genre. Although it's gotten a lot of positive reviews, I agree with the reviewers who found it "muddled" and "uneven." There are some inconsistencies in the world-building and in the main premise that I couldn't move beyond, plus so many helpful coincidences that it started to bother me (she's literally running for her life with a newborn baby that doesn't make a sound, etc.). But what really got me is how we're meant to see the main character in the light of all these things happening around her: We're meant to see her as brave, but she mostly strikes me as reckless and a bit clueless, rushing off to save people without any idea how to get into the place where they're being held, much less get out. But then she does get out, thanks to some other piece of pure luck, not thanks to her actions. This is not to say she doesn't take action--she does a lot of things, but they always seem to be instinctual reactions that might endanger the larger cause, rather than going about the overthrow of the totalitarian government in a more methodical and, ultimately, successful way. It's ironic that my response is the opposite of my response to Mockingjay, in which Katniss sat around worrying and rarely doing anything! I wanted the good old Katniss of Hunger Games, who thought things through and then kicked ass.

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