Thursday, December 9, 2010
Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brian
Author: Caragh M. O'Brian
Published: March, 2010
Source: The Library
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.
I consider myself a lover of dystopian novels. Give me a story set sometime in the future that prominently features a corrupt government that originally just wanted to do good, and I'm hooked, I don't even care about the rest of the plot. So basically, I expected to like this book. I did not, however, expect to love it as much as I did. Yes, it was what I expected as a dystopian, but it was also so much more.
Let's start with Gaia, the main character. She was so relateable and realistic, despite living in a world completely different than ours. She was both strong and weak, confident and unsure, brave and scared; all the things a good main character is. There were a lot of other characters. None of them were constant except Gaia, and yet I had a sense of who each of them was as a person. Gaia's parent's themselves were seldom in the novel, but I really got to know them through flashbacks.
The world building in this book was exceptional. I was given a clear picture of how things were, and how they became that way. I got to understand both life inside and outside the wall and see it from the eyes of a few different people without ever leaving Gaia's point of view. By the end I was just as outraged by what was happening as Gaia. Something that's never really explained fully is how the world went from our world to Gaia's world, but that's not really important in the grand scheme of things.
The book moved really quickly at some parts, and really slowely at others. I enjoyed it when it was fast, not as much when it was slow. I thought that a few parts were dragged out. I appreciated that O'Brian didn't overdescribe things when she was trying to create a sense of urgency, because I tend to skip over the "boring" parts when there's a lot of action.
If you're looking for an exceptional dystopian novel I would definitely recommend this one. I absolutely loved it and I can't wait for the sequel (there is a sequel, right???)!
Overall: 47/50 A
Cover Comments: Fits the story perfectly. The bleakness fits the tone, the tower plays a big role, the girl could easily be Gaia, and the DNA is a nice touch.