Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1)

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Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1)
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
March 30, 2010
ISBN
1596435690
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In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.

Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

Editor review

1 review
The Giver meets The Handmaiden's Tale
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
0.0
Writing Style
 
0.0
Sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone lives outside the wall. Those who are lucky enough to live inside the wall have privileges she can only dream of. It is the job of her mother to give to those inside the wall a small quota of babies. Gaia nevers questions this practice until the day she comes back from her first delivery and finds her parents have been arrested. No one tells her the reason only a helper to her mother who gives her a small package and warns her to guard it with her life. Gaia no longer trusts those she has faithfully served. Now it's up to her to try to get inside the wall to save her parents or die trying.

This dystopia reminded me of a teen's version of The Handmaiden's Tale. In the future children are 'marked'. Those who are, go to those inside the wall. Gaia never understands the purpose of her mother 'marking' some of the babies. Only later does she find out the truth and how it relates to her own family.

I liked how Gaia tries to find out the truth. She's a very likeable heroine with courage and strength. I also liked the hint of a romance between her and Leon, one of those from inside the wall. I only wished this romance had blossomed more.

I also wished more of those outside the wall would have protested having their babies taken. As a mother I find it hard to believe that only a few of these parents did that.

Great action and pacing keeps the reader wanting to know more about the secrets and how they relate to Gaia and her own family. I hope a sequel is in the works as I had lots of questions that weren't answered. Will Gaia find her mysterious grandmother?

A great read to those who love dystopias.
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User reviews

4 reviews
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
4.8(4)
Characters
 
4.7(3)
Writing Style
 
5.0(2)
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Solid Dystopia
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Birthmarked is a good read, not incredibly fast paced, the way The Hunger Games is, but it moves along steadily. The characters feel realistic and multidimensional. My only real criticism of the novel is that I could not picture any of the characters. O'Brien does wonderful descriptions of the places and the codes, but does not tend to describe people, except some of the details. This may be a good thing, if you are one of the people who likes being able to create the character's physical appearance in your mind. (Personally, I like to have a 'correct' picture, by which I mean based on the canon of the author's description.)

I do not want to spoil anything, because I know that is unbearably obnoxious, but I will say that this book flows much more like a traditional dystopia and less like some of the more cheerful ones coming out for children now. Some comparisons could be made here perhaps to The Handmaid's Tale, although obviously less harsh for the teen audience. O'Brien came up with a different plot line, focusing less on how the society came about and more on the problems within it (particularly the unforeseen complications a small population can bring). I highly recommend this as one of the better written and more original books coming out now.
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Amazing
(Updated: February 18, 2012)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
N/A
Wow! I really really enjoyed Birthmarked, right from the very first page to the very last one.

I was drawn into Gaia’s world right from the very start. We are thrown straight into her challenging life: delivering babies at sixteen years old, destined to a life stuck on the outside of the walls that enclose the Enclave where people live in luxury, and always suffering the stigma that comes with having a prominent scar on the side of her face. I was reminded a little bit of Katniss from the Hunger Games. Gaia has the same fiery determination to fight for what she believes in and a fierce loyalty towards her family.

This is what drives her to sneak into the Enclave and it is here, really, that things get interesting. Before long, Gaia realises that the Enclave in reality is different to the airbrushed image in her mind and her life is turned upside down during her short time there. She delivers a baby from a dead mother, gets thrown into prison, gets out of prison and discovers and learns so much along the way.

I think that the story really progressed at a nice pace, going into enough detail that you had a nice insight into life in this different society and could really believe in each of the characters, but not too much that you began to get bored. In fact, not once was I bored reading Birthmarked. I was gripped, virtually unable to stop reading, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit.

Amidst all the action did blossom a romance, which I think complemented the storyline very well. It grew slowly and sweetly, so that you often weren’t quite sure if it was there and intrigued me even more.

Overall, I really loved Birthmarked and definitely recommend it to everyone!
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Review From Blkosiner's Book Blog
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Birthmarked is packed with action, and I didn't want to stop. Even though the world is kinda scary because I could see society evolving into what the Enclave has created in Gaia's world, I didn't want to leave their adventure when I reached the last page.
It starts with a bang, and gets me intrigued right from the start. Why would she deliver this baby and then take it away? Why is she so torn over it? Then when her parents have been arrested and a strange but handsome guard is there to question *her* I am pretty entranced with her story and wanted to find out what was next.
Gaia's bravery and determination are admirable, and I never expect what happens next, or who will surprise me and step up to be an ally.
There is just a hint of love story in Birthmarked, but it left me satisfied, but at the same time wanting more, if that makes any sense.
I can't wait for the sequel, and to see what takes me by surprise next.
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Birthmarked: wow...a must-read!
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
0.0
Writing Style
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Kelsey

Wow. I can't think of anything this book is missing or anything the author could've written to make it better. Birthmarked has
everything from the first page: excitement, intrigue and mystery, and a
little romance. I loved the main character, Gaia, and following her
adventures: getting past the wall, trying to find and rescue her
parents, finding out that not everyone finds her face hideous, and
learning to be independent and make her own choices.

One thing
I've found through reviewing book after book on The Door to Wonderland
is that if the author doesn't write great characters, the book is pretty
much doomed from the start. Even if the plot is beyond awesome, I still
don't get a connected sense to the book, and so I rate it down. But Birthmarked
not only has evolving and self-aware characters, O'Brien wraps them up
in an engaging world, which is most definitely oppressive, but yet the
characters manage to find the good in their dismal situation.

*SPOILER* I
didn't like the ending. Yes, it's probably more realistic, but hey,
what's the good in a fictional book if you can't have a happy ending?
What happened to Leon?? Is there really a Dead Forest or is it a myth?
Is Gaia's grandmother alive, and if not why did her mother tell her to
go to her in the note? I want to know Caragh O'Brien! There better be a
sequel, that's all I'm saying. Birthmarked clearly ended at a point where there could be more to the book, so I'm DEMANDING a second one!
*END OF SPOILER*
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