Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Hundreds of years from now, Lake Superior is a dried wasteland renamed "Unlake Superior." The bountiful North America that we now know has been replaced by a barren, hostile world. Inside the walled-off enclave the wealthy live in relative luxury, on the outskirts of the Wall the poor scrape by. Only, the children of the poor have a chance at being accepted into this world of privilege. The first three babies born every month are "advanced" from their birth parents and will be adopted by the rich families inside the Enclave.

Sixteen year-old Gaia Stone is training to become a midwife. She is horribly scarred from an accident that happened when she was just a toddler. Her horrendous facial scars make her bashful in most situations, but not when she's attending a birth. Her mother is a master midwife and has shown Gaia all that she knows, including the process of tattooing a "birthmark" on a newborn before it's handed over to the guards at the wall.

When Gaia's mother and father are taken by force one night, she decides to enter the Enclave illegally. Once she does, she meets a whole host of people who are willing to risk their lives to rebel against the sick system that has robbed the people outside the wall of their children for hundreds of years and that has kept the gene pool inside the wall riddled with diseases, weak DNA, and infertility.

This is a thought-provoking exploration of a futuristic world where no parent has the right to their children and where the rich are pitted against the poor in a strict caste system. Gaia and many of the other women in this story are depicted as strong and intelligent. True heroines--an encouraging trend that will hopefully continue in YA lit.

There are some aspects of this book that don't always add up, but on the whole this series is rich, fresh, and exciting. I read that there are two more books planned for future release. I can't wait to read the next book in this series and find out what happens to Gaia and the rest of the rebels of this dystopian world!

**Read as part of the YAD2 Reading Challenge from Bart's Bookshelf**


  1. I wondered if this one was any good-- the premise appeals to me a lot. Thanks for the review, and I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

  2. This sounds really original!!
    Thanks for the review.. I think it's worth checking out! :)

    Kelly @ I Work For Books

  3. I thought Birthmarked was fantastic! There was something about it that reminded me a lot of The Giver, and Gaia was really such an empowering female protagonist. I wonder when the next book will come out?!

  4. I love how you feature so many dystopia reviews! There are so many out lately. I'd love to know which ones are your absolute favourite top recommendations in this genre :)

    Thanks for the review - i haven't seen many for this book.

  5. Great review! I hadn't heard of this one, but have added it to my wishlist. BTW, love your blog and am a new follower! :)

  6. @ Nomes: Good idea! Maybe I'll include a favorites list/ giveaway in my upcoming blogiversary celebration. I do love this genre. It's all I can do sometimes to not just read one after the other. I have to vary it up for my students, but I indulge myself at least once or twice a week!

    Thanks for the idea.

  7. Well, since I already love the cover, I have no problem added this one to my wishlist based on your review. I have really come to love dystopian fiction but I have noticed that things often don't add up for some reason.

    Thanks for reviewing this.

  8. I really need to get on this one. I have heard so many good things about it.

  9. I have seen this book around and thought that I would like it. Like you I love dystopian novels. Great review.

  10. I love the name Gaia! The main character in the Fearless series I read in High School had the same name! So strong! I love Dystopian, and haven't heard of this one yet. I'll definitely have to read this one soon! Thanks for posting another great review! Happy Thanksgiving!



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