Monday, September 6, 2010

"Birthmarked: - Caragh O'Brien

I bought “Birthmarked” for two reasons, the cover fascinated me (probably because I majored in bio and loved the DNA strand image on the cover, sometimes I’m easy to please) and I was looking for a new book about a dystopian future. After, I gave serious debate over how much I wanted to read it, but when I went on a trip with some friends I took it with me, and spent much of the trip telling them about the story as I uncovered more of the plot. I was so intrigued by the plot, and wanted to know where the author was going with it.

The main character is fifteen year old Gaia, a budding midwife who’s just starting to deliver babies without her mother’s help. In this society, there are those who are privileged enough to live within the walls of the city and those less fortunate who live outside of the city. It is the job of a midwife to give the first three babies that they deliver each month to those within the walls to be raised. Right after Gaia completes her first solo delivery, and takes the baby to the city gate, she goes home to find her parents arrest and she is quickly drawn into the mystery of what it is her parents were hiding from those that run the city, and more importantly, what it all means.

Gaia was a likeable character, she believes in what she was taught, and wants to do what is right even when everything tells her that she shouldn’t. I also like that she’s not an all knowing character, she’s a good person and smart, but she has things to learn, and that is important, especially when your main character is young.

The story unfolded nicely for me. I actually laughed at myself when I realized what a Tvaltar was (it may seem obvious, but seriously, I just thought it was a made up word). I really liked this connection to their past, and how they came to tell you how the world came to be the way it was. More importantly, though, was how the mystery surrounding her parents arrest unfolded. It was slow, but believable, as you learned everything as Gaia did. I also liked that I could not immediately solve the mystery when they presented it, so I didn’t sit there going “why can’t she get this, it’s so obvious.” Instead, I actually had to go back and look at it a 2nd time to see what she found.

The major plot point was solved, though not exactly happily, but some may not like the ending of this book, as some of the plot points are left opened for a sequel. I’d be thrilled if there was, but my enjoyment of this book will not be lessened if there isn’t one.

If you enjoy reading books about dystopian futures, I highly recommend this book. If you are thinking of reading a book about a dystopian future for the first time, this wouldn’t be a bad one to start with. If you don’t like a slightly sad story, though, stay away, because there is a plenty of sadness here.

Please look for my next review, coming Thursday of "Peter and the Starcatchers"


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  2. I really enjoyed this one, too, although I was definitely frustrated with the ending. I've heard there's a sequel in the making - all I can say is, there better be, 'cause I want to know what happens!

  3. Thanks for the review! I borrowed this book from the library and have read the first few chapters but then put it down and left it alone for a while because I just haven't had the time. But now I think I will give it another chance!