Josie's Reviews > Prized

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
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Apr 11, 2012

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bookshelves: young-adult

** spoiler alert ** This kind of felt like a second-rate version of Birthmarked? Gaia was imprisoned again, struggled against a flawed authority, had to decode a message from a dead family member, worked out a genetics mystery, and revealed a hidden secret. And she delivered some babies.

So far, so familiar.

Where this differed was in the romance. I'll be honest, right from the first chapter I was just waiting for Leon to ride into Sylum and save her. So I was predisposed to root for him. But... the love triangle (love square?) made no sense. If Gaia was going to fall for anyone, I thought it would be Will, after their bonding session over the dead body in his barn. They had stuff in common! They talked! She thought he was handsome! But instead she suddenly decides she's in love with Will's brother Peter??? I don't get what basis she had for that -- did they even meet or talk after he rescued her from the desert? Peter forced Gaia to kneel in front of a woman who had just taken away Gaia's baby sister. (I mean, he literally shoved her down onto her knees, all for having a natural human reaction to losing her sister.) How is that sexy? I just. Don't even know. When Gaia realised she also had feelings for Will, my reaction was, "Well, duh." But it didn't sit right for her to admit that after she'd been mooning over Peter for a lot less reason.

And Leon. Wow. I don't even know where to start with him. I guess I can understand Leon's anger/frustration at Gaia (even though a lot of it was just mixed messages, and them misunderstanding each other's motives and actions). But then, just when I'd admitted that okay, he's justified in hating her guts, there's that moment where he carries her out of the canoe so her feet don't get wet, and he tells her he's been wanting to do that for so long. Um, what? I thought he was just messing with her mind, but no. He secretly still liked her, to the point of wanting to make gentle and romantic gestures, even though he continued to act coldly and say the most hurtful things to her in the next chapter.

I was as confused as Gaia. I felt like no one's actions made sense, or were consistent with their personalities. Even Gaia herself -- desperately making a stand for what she believed in, to the point of screwing up her relationship with Leon, and then suddenly capitulating because it was easier to give in. Or believing herself to be beautiful and desirable after enduring a lifetime of taunts and prejudice over her appearance. I kept having to remind myself that Gaia has a big, disfiguring scar covering half of her face, because she herself seemed to have forgotten all about it.

Maybe if I went back and reread the entire book, it might make a little more sense, now that I know how it ends. But maybe that's too generous of me. I reread Birthmarked before I read Prized, to refresh my memories of Gaia's world and what happened in the Enclave. And I was struck by how rambling the writing was in Birthmarked. People talk in endless circles about what the ribbon and the freckles might mean, and it goes on and on. (I don't think I noticed this when I first read it because I was trying to work out the mystery too.) I hoped the writing and plotting in Prized would be tighter. It wasn't. Only this time the rambling was more introspective, with Gaia endlessly wondering if she was doing the right thing (re: aborting Peony's baby, disobeying the Matrarc, having feelings for Leon/Peter/Will...). I suspect that reading Prized a second time would just make me hate Gaia's stupid decisions even more.
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