Review Detail

4.7 2
Young Adult Fiction 3022
Even Better Than Book One
Overall rating
Writing Style
As much as I enjoyed Birthmarked, the first book in the series, I liked this one way better. Or, possibly, I just don't recall the first one well now. Either way, I can tell you that I just ate this up. Were it not for work and social responsibilities, I would not have put it down.

What I love about this series is that O'Brien focuses on topics that are not often tackled in YA novels, like midwifery (which grosses me out, but it's still awesome that there are details) and genetics. Gaia, too, is pretty fantastic, because of her strength, not physically but mentally. Like me, she is a very stubborn woman and that makes her a force to be reckoned with.

Birthmarked had romance, but much less than can be found here. Now, the fact that Gaia has three men interested in her (two of them brothers) could be seen as a big negative for the book. Certainly, the love triangle (square?) plot can get old. However, I think it has been done fairly well. The reason is that it makes much more sense in the context of the story, since Sylum has so few women.

In the Enclave, only Leon ever expressed a romantic interest in Gaia. Most ignored her because of the burn scar on her face. In Sylum, that seems hardly to matter. I found the whole crazy society in Sylum endlessly fascinating. The women essentially have the pick of the men and have complete control. In fact, if a man so much as touches an unmarried man before they are engaged, he can go to prison, because otherwise the women of Sylum would be in serious danger, given the lack of available lady folk.

Even more interesting is the one exception to the women having all the power, which is the 32 Games, wherein the strongest young men play soccer. The begin with two teams of 16 and play until a goal is scored. The winning team divides up into two teams of 8, and so on until only one man remains. That man has his pick of the unmarried women, the Mlasses, to stay with him in the victor's cabin for a month. Supposedly, he's not allowed to get with her, but...come on.

Oh, how much I wish the final book in the trilogy could come out right now!
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