Tuesday 14 May 2013

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Okay so after reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman, all the dystopias pale in comparison. But this was interesting.

Title: Birthmarked (Birthmarked Book #1)
Author: Caragh O'Brien


Gaia Stone was burned badly in an accident as a child. And because of her scars, she will never be advanced to the Enclave--where technology, comfort and education lies. She assists her mother as the midwife of her sector outside the wall, until her parents are taken into the Enclave walls for questioning, leaving Gaia with a code to decipher. To save her parents, she must embark on a dangerous mission with the mysterious and handsome Captan Grey, into the Enclave to save her parents, or die trying.


I was extremely skeptical of this book. And with good reason. But it proved to be okay. 

The dystopian universe was curious. It wasn't particularly unusual, but the idea to separate the two societies by a wall was different. But apart from being different from other dystopias, the purpose of it just totally confused me. It's like Caragh O'Brien was trying to create a world where the First World and Third World societies could live side-by-side for contrast. I do think that worked, but her decision to do that just made the story itself a bit illogical. (Pardon my vocabulary. I just watched Star Trek. Will be reviewing that soon.)

Gaia, the main character, is a midwife. Well that certainly was different. I mean, a midwife is possibly the most random thing you could decide to make your character. But I guess it served the purpose of increasing her value to the society (so people have a reason to keep her around) and to show her caring, motherly side. Although...HELLO. THE GIRL IS SIXTEEN. I DONT CARE THAT SHE'S A QUALIFIED MIDWIFE. I WOULDN'T TRUST HER TO DELIVER MY CHILD. 

Gaia was sarcastic and sassy, though more than sometimes unnecessarily so. Her complete lack of survival instinct just bugged me. Even so, her narrative is oddly compelling, and her determination to save her parents is a strong point throughout the book. 

Now, let us talk about Captain Grey, AKA Leon. So he didn't play a big part in this book. But their relationship was developed a bit more gradually than other books (AHEM Shatter Me AHEM Adam AHEM). And there wasn't an "Insta-Attraction" thing. She actually had to catch his attention because of her rebeliousness. Leon is an interesting character in that he's very conflicted, and in no way perfect. Loved him. (Okay so here's the thing. I'm writing this having already read the second book, and so I'm clinging to what happened in this book okay? Just bear with me.)

Next thing: The government in the Enclave. For once, what was made out to be the "bad guys" in this book, actually made a whole dang lot more sense than Gaia's morals. For example (*this is a spoiler*). I know this sounds harsh, but I seriously don't think saving a baby from parents who are siblings is even worth it. I know the point there was not to kill an innocent child, but seriously. Gaia. You're there to save your parents. You don't go charging in. Eurgh. *End Spoiler*

So to talk about the plot, the first bit was confusing and kind of boring, because it set the scene in a sleepy, sort of primitive village. The purpose, I suppose, was to show us the environment that Gaia grew up in, but that was plenty explained in Gaia's extremely frequent flashbacks. I'm talking extremely frequent. And that society isn't even the main setting for the book. But after that, the whole running, fighting and stuff was interesting enough to keep me reading. 

Grade: C+ If you have patience with books, you could try this.

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