Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: March 2010
ISBN: 9781596435698
Source: ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours


Gaia has grown up outside the walls of the enclave - with a scar on her face from a childhood accident, she would not have been advanced.  As a midwife apprentice to her mother, she has seen babies advanced or given to the enclave every month since she was a child.  But, when her parents are taken by the people they've been serving forever, Gaia begins to doubt her loyalty to the enclave.  She sets off on a dangerous mission inside the walls.  But, she is about to learn a lot more about what it's like inside the walls than she expected.

Things I Liked:
This was an excellent, fast-paced, surprising adventure.  I love the dystopian world O'Brien has created here with terrifying familiarity.  Gaia was an character that I grew to love as she began to understand more about what she does and why she does it.  The plot unraveled with nearly perfect pace - I only once felt like it got sidetracked.  Despite some of the things I saw coming, there were still surprises that hit me.  An excellent debut and addition to dystopian literature.

"Despite the crude simplicity of the Wharfton homes and the endless work, life outside the wall had a raw decency for a moment.  At least no one actually starved.  Her parents' arrest and continued absence were making her question things she'd taken for granted and see the impoverished community outside the wall with new eyes.  Perhaps the three advanced babies from their sector were simply payment for the water, mycoprotien, and electricity the Enclave gave them all.  Perhaps the exchange, stripped of its veneer of privilege and promise, was that simple.  And was it worth it?" p 35 of ARC
"Where the route circumvented large boulders, the packed path was cool under her bare feet, but most of the way lay in bright sunlight, and she felt like everything prickled - the bit of grit between her toes, the grasshopper's flecking at her hem, the itch of heat behind her ears." p52 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
I thought one particular chapter felt kind of out of place and didn't really add much to the story.  Also, I think it would have been more interesting if Sgt. Bartlett had more story about him - I'm assuming there will be more in sequels. 

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

s-factor: none
(at least not that I can remember)

mrg-factor: X
mostly from birth scenes

v-factor: ->->
some disturbing things and brief violence

Overall rating: ****

Have you noticed an increase in great dystopian literature or am I just now paying attention?  Do you have older favorites?


If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Sounds good!!

    Dystopia seems to be a craze lately... anything but vampires, I say. ;)

  2. Definitely interested in this one...adding it to my wishlist.

  3. Britt, yeah enough with the vamps.

    Bookshelf Monstrosity, I'd like to buy a copy too!


Love it when you comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright © melissa of One Librarian's Book Reviews 2008-2015