Monday, 9 April 2012

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Title: Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1)
Author: Caragh O'Brien
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 1st April 2011 ( 30th March 2010)
Pages: 361
Read in: April 2012
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.
When I keep making up vivid theories for what will happen next, while I’m reading a book, it is usually a good sign.

““Your parents were fools,” Old Meg said. “Trusting, cowardly pacifists. And they’ll pay.” Gaia was horrified. “Don’t say that,” she said. “They’ve been loyal to the Enclave forever. They advanced two sons. They’ve served for years”
“And don’t you think they’ve regretted their sacrifices. “”

On reading the summary, what drew me to the book was the main basis behind the society. Babies from outside the wall in Wharfton, the less well-off area, are “advanced” to inside the wall, The Enclave, to live with more well-off parents. This of course leads to many parents not knowing how their children grow up or what they are like as people. However the summary was vague, in that I still didn't know what the story was. I was wondering how this society was going to play out.

The story did take a while to satisfactorily develop the world however when it did I was more than pleased. My thoughts were constantly with both the parents and their kids; what sort of lives they could of lead if they had not been advanced. The main character, Gaia, herself had two older brothers that were advanced, and when she enters the Enclave I was constantly on edge wondering if she was going to meet them. I have always seemed to like that sort of thinking when I'm reading a book; so no wonder Birthmarked appealed.

Gaia as a lead female was interesting. From the beginning she showed strength and a slight willingness to fight the system (after all they had just arrested her parents.) However, it did seem to take a while for myself to put faith in her; that she will make the correct decisions. Her decisions were not those I would come to expect from a lead female in a YA novel. However they were major in affecting the direction the story was going to follow. I did like her in the end; it just took a little while to get there.

I loved the slow building relationship between Capt. Grey and Gaia. We get to know him as a character, but also we find out about his childhood and how that has a part to play. This just made him even more interesting; and the book even more exciting!

One little thing that I liked was the pictures provided of the code that Gaia has to crack. I felt the need to try and work it out for myself. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful *sniff*, but I guess I don’t have Gaia’s brains, or developed knowledge of her parents.

Another aspect that really appealed was the constant mention of genes and genetics. You see I’m studying Biology, so a society making decisions based on population genetics just made me, let's say, a little giddy. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a degree level scientist to understand; it is pretty basic stuff. I guess for most this wouldn’t be a major bonus but I loved it.

Overall the society, and the route the story seemed to take, made this to a very exciting read. I have so many theories for the next book, Prized, most of which are probably completely wrong. But the fact that I am thinking of them shows how much I ended up enjoying this book. Birthmarked is definitely worth a shot. 5 Stars.


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