Sunday, December 11, 2011

Birthmarked and Prized (Birthmarked #1, 2) by Caragh M. O'Brien: review

Goodreads rating: 3.99
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Square Fish (first published March 30th 2010)

Goodreads rating: 4.11
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press

From book 1:
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.


There's such a huge plot difference between these two books. If you've read Birthmarked, don't expect the same kind setting. If not for the love between the Gaia and Leon, these two could have been standalones.

Birthmarked is a little hard to get used to. It's just strange that it's about birthing. I think I know more about what happens to a woman at birth than I ever really wanted to at this point in my life. But it all fits I guess, and it's certainly unique. Baby quotas have always fascinated me, because it's one of the most wrong things you can do in a society, even if the babies aren't killed. Because the main characters mom is apparently keeping records of the children she births, the girls parents are arrested. When Gaia goes inside to find them, she befriends a soldier named Leon, who asked her questions after her parents had been taken. She also saves a child from a woman's womb who was being hung, but she's caught and gets sent to jail. And the whole time she's trying to get out, she finds out about her family. She finds one of her brothers. She figures out the code her mother left her and what it could mean. She falls in love. A promising start to a series, but in the realm of dystopians, it doesn't even compare to some of them.

Prized, again, was completely different, but almost better and worse at the same time. I didn't like who Gaia was becoming because of this strict matriarchal, even though it kind of made me mad how logical Leon, after all this time away from her, was being. You want them to work so badly, and then two brothers come into the picture. Two hot brothers who are both madly in love with her. As if it couldn't get any worse, anyone that leaves the place dies within a day. Not good news for our heroes. Prized was the most frustrating, because Leon was being so distant, and meanwhile Gaia was losing herself, and on top of that she had to deal with the strange infertility in some of the men, and why there were very few women born. Let's just say, it has something to do with the sickness that kills you if you try to leave. Next, in Promised, we'll be going back to Enclave for basically a final showdown. Surprisingly, I'm a little excited about the ending.

As a warning, if anything about birthing makes you queasy, don't read this series. It's gets a little graphic (barely, but for YA it's a bit graphic). But I really loved the romance, and though Prized was very different, and didn't seem to fit the story, I enjoyed both Birthmarked and Prized.

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