Update: I seriously need to stop putting this off.
Title: Prized (Birthmarked #2)
Author: Caragh O'Brien
Plunging into the forest with her baby sister and only a handful of supplies, sixteen-year-old Gaia finds the community of Sylum, where women govern and men vastly outnumber the women. As girls are highly valued in the society, Gaia's sister is taken from her. She soon learns about the strict rules of the society and how she must play along to see her sister again.
This book goes on a not-very-long list of weird-ass sequels. Actually it probably tops that list. It is really the completely opposite of the first book in every way, and there's really little-to-no connection between the two.
This book focuses on a more village-like society, very much similar to the Giver or the villages outside the world of the Giver (by Lois Lowry. There's a whole series that I recommend you read). The rules are even worse than that of the Enclave. This was a complete departure from the generally realistic and mostly plausible society created in the first book and moved the series further into the 'dystopia' category. While there were a few elements that tied it to reality, such as air pollution, water pollution and such, it was more fiction than prediction.
Gaia's character was seriously odd, and the society in the village, Sylum, caused her to do stuff which confused me. The politics were mind-blowing (not particularly in a good way) and weird. The society wasn't well balanced, either, lacking technology and medical research while having deep knowledge on past technology. Seriously, in this series they seem to have forgotten about all our discoveries in medicine.
As the plot progressed, it just got weirder and weirder and weirder until Leon showed up. That's when, forgive my French, the shit hit the fan. He was pretty realistic, to tell you the truth, but I guess in some situations realistic is more than a bit frustrating. He was cruel for a large part of the book, and with good reason, but he had sudden character shifts with little actual development and I didn't like that. And this character was so different from that of the first book that I just....words fail me.
Some things I did like: The love interests. Yup, Leon isn't the only one. However, these love interests were unusual in that they represented the stereotypical third parties in fictional love triangles, and Caragh O'Brien sort of showed us how differently they are treated in books. It was a cool contrast that I haven't seen before and I thought it was adorable and interesting to read.
Towards the end of the book I really couldn't see where it was going, but I still hope for the last book, which I'm about three-quarters through. I've been straggling. I'll get it done. I will.
To sum it up, this book was weird and nearly unrelated to the first book. I can't see where it's going. But the exploration of different stereotypical love interests was enough to warm me up to the book.
Grade: C+. Confusing, but redeemable.
P.S. OH FOR THE LORD I FINALLY DID IT.