Monday, February 21, 2011

BR: Birthmarked

by Caragh M. Obrien
Birthmarked series; book I

I'm not even going to make up something different, the one big huge honking reason I wanted to read it was because Steph Su gave it 5/5 and I just love her blog :)

Summary (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.

My Expectations: Apart from Steph's seal of approval, I didn't read many other reviews, I just hoped it would be awesomesauce!

Delivery: Oh em gee, it was awesomesauce!

Put-down-ability: 2/10 it was crazy addictive. I'm just glad I didn't start reading this at 10pm!

My Thoughts

Where do I begin with Birthmarked? Well, I always love touching on the dystopian worlds in dystopian novels, and I found the one created by O’Brien to be rather spectacular. It is very strongly conceptualized and deeply intricate. As the author gradually clued me into this world, the baby quotas and the Enclave, I became very impressed with the way things were organized.

O’Brien also manages to juxtapose the two sides very well; readers are given a bleak feeling on the outside and the repressive, urgent yet modernized atmosphere on the inside (the Enclave). The writing was sharp and engaging, and instantly pulled me into the story. I was initially disappointed by the third person POV but I eventually didn't even notice, which is defs a good thing. I found the imagery to be particularly strong.

What took this story from great to amazing was Gaia. She’s freaking awesome. She doesn’t necessarily set herself apart from ‘kick ass heroines’ in the conventional sense, but she has this unconventional attribute about her (that I can’t quite name) that makes her stand out amongst the rest, kind of like Katniss. And she doesn’t make ridiculously stupid decisions either, which always helps.

The plot was fantastic; there really isn’t anything bad I can say about it. The pacing was perfect as O’Brien kept the story moving along briskly but still including minor twinges of details that added spark. As Gaia struggles with many internal and external conflicts, the world around her is swirling in a mess and she’s caught right in the middle.

I was initially extremely wary about the romance but honestly, I grew into it (but unfortunately, not the love interest's name). There was enough chemistry between the two for it to be believable, and I loooved the crazy ending, yes I am one of ‘those people’ xD.

Birthmarked is a intriguing and smart debut that constructs an intense dystopian world, adds in a super sekrit mysteries, a strong-willed heroine and well, more secrets. Just blend.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations / Outstanding (I couldn't choose!)
Recommended for: ALL dystopian fans and reluctant dystopian readers. Hehe, did I miss anyone? Oh, and dystopian moderate-ists too. And boys.
Acknowledgements: lovely, 3.5/5

9.1/10 – because I loved everything about it, it is another fantastic dystopian novel you should definitely add to your shelf. The society was unique, the characters were well drawn out the stakes were high. With so much on the line, O’Brien deftly weaves an entertaining and intense storyline filled with suspense, secrets, and love.

source: publisher
author website / livejournal


  1. Audrey,

    You don't know how happy this review makes me. It feels like forever since I've gotten my hands on a good dytopian novel that doesn't disappoint me.

    Gaia sounds like an exuberant character that I need to get to know and anything you deem as awesomesauce is a must read for me. Thanks for the excitement you have shared in this review.

  2. I really haven't heard much about this novel but now I NEED it! Gaia sounds like my kind of heroine.

    And lately dystopia novels seem to be all about the same thing so it is nice to have something unique.


for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*