Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien
Genre: Futuristic, YA
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Gaia is a midwife, apprentice to her mother. But her job is not just to deliver the babies: it’s to take the first three of the month to the city within the wall away from their families, to “Advance” them and let them join the government there. Gaia has never questioned the government—until she has to advance a baby herself, until her innocent parents are taken away, until she sees the injustice that happens behind the wall… Gaia’s only wish is to get her parents back, safely outside the wall, and then flee to the Dead Forest—which may or may not exist—but when she finally gets in, a series of events makes her question what is really right, who she loves, and what she lives for.
When I first started Birthmarked, I had a hard time getting through the first chapter. The thought of these people taking the newborn babies away from their parents to live in the richer society but away from the ones who loved them made me sick to my stomach, and I almost put it down completely. It also struck me as familiar, and I realized later that it was the whole concept of taking the children away. It reminded me of The Hunger Games, and I didn’t want a lousy play-off. But I couldn’t stop reading, because it was just so good. Good thing I didn’t stop.
The plot had me guessing every step of the way. It was completely unpredictable and I’m still reeling from it.
The writing was beautiful and descriptive, so visual that I could see everything exactly. It almost had a rhythmic feel to it.
The characters were wonderful. Gaia is a strong willed girl, willing to do anything for the people she loves. The other characters are quickly defined and unique. Gaia’s father is a sweet wonderful man, and her mother was strong and beautiful like Gaia herself.
One of the things I love about this book is the realness behind everything—the dialogue, the feelings, even the romance. Especially the romance. I hate it when the main characters get crushes for each other within the first paragraph of the book. In Birthmarked, I didn’t see it coming until maybe halfway through the book (and that was only because the character just kept reappearing). I love that!
The ending, though, left me hanging a little. It wasn’t as horrible as The Hunger Games endings have been (hurry up, Suzanne!) but it did leave me saying “but… but… but….awww dang….” I shall be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the sequel. And there better be a sequel.
Content: Clean of sex, language, and violence.
Recommendation: Ages 12+ Adults will love it, too!
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