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Birthmarked: Review

Synopsis: After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested. 

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned. 

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

Details: "Birthmarked" by Caragh M. O'Brien, 362 pages, 4.06 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: Um, first? That cover? It's beyond gorgeous. It has to be one of my favorite covers ever. Recently almost all of the books I've been reading have come from blog reviews, but if I saw that in a bookstore, I would buy it on the spot, even without a gift card. (Guess what? I've never in my life bought a book with my own money, always from the gift cards I get from relatives on birthdays and holidays. 'Cause, yeah, I'm stingy that way. Libraries for the win?) The cover fits the book absolutely perfectly - it's dark and beautiful and mysterious, all at once.

The book itself was great as well! I'm not usually the hugest fan of third person (it's okay but I tend to prefer first person because you can get closer to the characters), but I think it worked really well here. Gaia is mature and brave for a sixteen-year-old, and time and time again throughout the book I was admiring her strength. Personally, I don't like her name because I kept thinking it was pronounced "gay-a", but then at the very end, she mentioned it rhymes with Maya, so is it really "guy-a"? I'm so confused! I like "gay-a" better. She's "gay-a" in my mind. 

The other - and less superficial - thing I didn't like so much about Gaia was she really was quick to decide the Enclave was bad. I mean, since her parents were arrested, I understand her eventually concluding that there's icky stuff going on, but she came to this conclusion about 0.2 seconds after she heard the news. Think of it this way: say one day you came home from school/work/whatever to find out that your parents/spouse/whatever has been arrested for reasons they won't reveal to you, and you know for a fact that your parents/spouse/whatever would never do anything bad. Is your first conclusion going to be that the judicial system is evil and biased and conspiring? 

That was the only thing I found a bit iffy. All the characters were great - no one was pure evil or pure good, so everything was really multi-dimensional. And, oh, I love Leon! Leon + Gaia = <3. I really like that it took Gaia a while to fall in love with him and that she wasn't attracted to just his physical appearance like the other girls. I think the best part, though, was that she recognized he was a very attractive person instead of "not noticing" like some books. 

In the beginning it was a little hard for me to get fully involved with the characters, but by the end, it was definitely worth it. The writing style was fantastic for this book, and I'd recommend it for anyone who likes post-apocalyptic stories! 4 smilies out of 5.


Jami said...

This was one of my favorite reads of the year. Gload you enjoyed it, too!

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