Monday, May 21, 2012

"Birthmarked" by Caragh M. O'Brien

361 pages

Sixteen-year-old Gaia has always stayed under the radar. Her mother is one of their District's best midwives, and she dutifully turns over the first three babies born each month to the Enclave. The residents of the Enclave live lives of luxury that those in the impoverished outside can only dream of. Some parents on the outside resist the idea of giving their children over to strangers, but most accept it because it offers their babies a better life. Now Gaia is training to be a midwife herself, and it looks like she's going to be as good at delivering babies as her mother. Then, one awful night, both of Gaia's parents are arrested and taken to prison inside the Enclave. Gaia vows to break into the Enclave and get her parents out or die trying. In the process, she learns that not all is at it seems inside the Enclave, and she begins to question everything she's been taught about the society she has been raised in. 

I enjoyed this story, but I had some major problems with the premise. I didn't have trouble believing that the outsiders had been subject to the Enclave's tyranny for so long--real-life history has shown us how good one group can be at subjugating another. However, I did think it was weird that they had given up their babies without much of a fight or even an explanation. Also, when I read the part where Gaia found out why her parents had been arrested, I felt sort of disappointed. I was expecting something bigger, I guess. I know governments can be paranoid, but this goes way beyond that. It just doesn't make sense to me that the leaders of the Enclave would go through so much trouble to prevent something that is so random. I'm trying to explain my complaint without giving too much away, and it probably makes no sense. Sorry about that. Anyway, I still enjoyed the story. There's lots of action so it moves along at a quick pace. It leans more on the romance and less on the dystopia, so I don't think hard-core scifi fans will like it too much. I would, however, recommend it for fans of  recommend it for fans of dystopian romances like "Wither," "Delirium," and "Matched."

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