Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Review: Birthmarked
Series: Birthmarked – Book 1
Author: Caragh M. O’Brien
No of Pages: 361
Release Date: 30 March 2010

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen year old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

My Thoughts:

Set in a world 300 years from now, after climate change has ravished the earth we are looking through the eyes of Gaia, a sixteen year old midwife who lives on the outside of the wall protecting what is portrayed to be the only civilised human colony left. The colony has a pretty communised outlook on life, banishing the poor, disfigured, uneducated people to a life of poverty on the outside whilst the privileged live on the inside.

Coming back from her first solo delivery Gaia finds her parents have been arrested, after realising that her parents aren’t coming back Gaia sneaks into the inside of the wall to rescue them, an offense punishable by death.

Birthmarked didn’t really have a futuristic feel but more of a medieval feel especially with the public hangings. It was also a little unrealistic in the fact that the world seems to have gone from having six billion inhabitants to a couple of thousand, which is all that was portrayed, hopefully this will be reconciled in future books. I almost got a Village (remember the movie?) feel as I got deeper in.

Birthmarked drew me in completely despite the flaws, the code that Gaia had to decipher was ingenious and although it took a little while to work out, was very fun to decipher once I realised how it worked. The world was very fleshed out and although it was a little unrealistic I found myself with an easy picture in my mind of what was going on.

It is hard to discern where Birthmarked is set, considering the mention of Eucalyptus, which is native to Australia and Indonesia, and various dried up bodies of water I am assuming Birthmarked was set in America, considering it’s an American author. Usually I don’t care, but in the way of Birthmarked I felt the need to find out which country went up the creek.

Gaia was a consistent character. She was dumb but only because she had been brought up to accept everything that the Protectorat said. It did get a little annoying but it was understandable, and it was very well done how she gradually came to terms with the unfairness of how she lives.

Although Gaia was strong, smart and very, very courageous I felt unable to connect with her. Her whining over her scar made her a little boring. Gaia constantly accused everyone of looking down upon her because of her scar, yes it’s a long term psychological damage but when people merely want to talk to you, the internal dialogue of “they only want to see the scar, they are all secretly laughing at me, everybody hates me” gets a little tiresome.

Flaws aside Birthmarked was an intriguing dive into the world of dystopian fantasy and one that I would gladly continue on the journey of. Originally, Birthmarked was written as a standalone book, I am anticipating the second book but I think it would have almost worked better by itself.


This Miss Loves to Read said...

I don't often read dystopian fantasies, but if it's a good one, I'll tackle this genre, too. The novel seems intriguing to me, despite the flaws, like you said. Your review is great. I might consider reading this one one day.

Allison said...

I'm a big fan of dystopian YA, so I think I'll definitely be reading this at some point.

Thanks for your review though, I like being warned of character flaws in advance :)

Anonymous said...

Great Review!!! Thanks for linking to the BWB.

Emily said...

Ahhh The Village! Moment of truth- I hated that movie, so maybe that's where my lack of enthusiasm about this book came from. I'm glad everyone else enjoyed it though!


Related Posts with Thumbnails