03 May, 2012

Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 361 
Format: Paperback
Published April 1, 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's 
First published March 30, 2010
Goodreads // Amazon UK

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 always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.
Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish. 
Gaia breaks into the walls of the Enclave in search of her parents. She learns that the society she thought was privileged and perfect turns out to have its problems and they actually need the children from outside the wall. From the start, the book's summary didn't actually grab me in; I picked up this book based off of reviews from others. This book met some of the expectations I had and fell in others. I suppose I'll get to that in a minute. I just simply liked it. Nothing amazingly outstanding.

Like all dystopian books, the setting as well as the society itself has to be original. The Enclave, like many other societies, was all-seeing, practically all-knowing, and intimidating. I wasn't blown out of the water with the original idea of babies having to be given to the Enclave. I found myself annoyed with it for most of the book. In the Enclave, many of the inhabitants are having children with genetic diseases like hemophelia due to the lack of genetic diversity and they need children from outside the wall to supply stronger genes. They need Gaia to crack her parents' secret code so that they can discover the parentage of the 'advanced' children. What I don't understand is that if they've been so concerned with genetics, why didn't they keep a record in the first place? It certainly wouldn't have been difficult. I just couldn't get over this fact for the entire book!

There were redeeming qualities about this book, however. I can see why readers enjoyed it. Caragh O'Brien is a genuinely talented writer and paints a vivid world full of a few good characters. I really did like reading about Gaia. She's strong and doesn't take no for an answer but isn't afraid to still be gentle when she needs to be. I just couldn't really get past the main plot. I guess that's why the book was just okay for me. I'm not really sure I'd read the second book in this series. I'll probably have too a long queue of books to place the next book near the top.


  1. This sounds like a bit of a 'meh' book which is a shame because the cover is gorgeous! x

    1. I know! I love that cover. I don't know if it's just in the UK or not. I'm a bit disappointed. I always want to love a book.


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