Monday, May 31, 2010
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Review copy purchased form Amazon.com, kindle edition.
PJVs QUICKIE POV: Your typical dystopian, Birthmarked pairs an innocent girl with an oppressive society, makes that girl not so innocent anymore (knowledge) and narrates girl attempt to kick societies butt. I enjoyed Gaia’s story, and I’m a big fan of the genre. Birthmarked is up against some heavy hitters, though, such as The Hunger Games, Inside Out, and The Uglies which in comparison, Birthmarked does fall short…but it was an enjoyable read. The gritty setting, the iron-fisted ruling class, the conspiracy laced lies that society is founded on; all are well played and thought provoking. The main incendiary act of the oppressing society is quite disturbing and gets under you skin. O’Brien did a wonderful job with her world building and I look forward to the second in this series.
REVIEW: The world is set in what appears to be a post environmental apocalypse. The great lakes are dried up craters and the area that surrounds the community is called the wasteland. The main society is a walled community called the Enclave and is ruled by a dictator called the Protectorate. The people within the wall are pampered; they have electricity, clean clothing and indoor plumbing. The people outside the wall are the second-class citizens, hardly any electricity, living in hovels and completely repressed. They are so completely lorded over by the enclave that they even give up their newborn children to advance the genetic diversity of the people that live within the wall.
Everything is going good for the Enclave, citizens are giving up their children with very little complaint. They believe their children will get a better life if they go behind the wall. That is until Gaia’s parents are taken under arrest…and Gaia refuses to just sit back and allow the Enclave to take control of her life. And so begins the story of the young mid-wife and her slow realization that life isn’t exactly how she pictured it, the world is a nasty place but if you look deep enough, you might just find something that is worth fighting for.
RECOMMENDATIONS: A safe and entertaining read for teens, and mature enough for older readers. Fans of dystopian should enjoy Birthmarked.
1. When reading dystopian, the scary aspect is thinking, "Could this happen one day?" Did you ask yourself this while reading Birthmarked ? Do you think a future like this is possible?
No. If an environmental disaster would occur that would dry up lakes and turn the country into a wasteland, I don’t think the human element would wall themselves up in an Enclave. JMO. But it is probably because Climate Change is a pet peev of mine.
2. How did the puzzle aspect of the story work for you? Did you figure out the code or was the explanation a surprise? Does this element work for you in a story or is there one you like/appreciate more?
No. I’m not good with puzzles. A little slow here. I wasn’t really a surprise though, I could kind of see it, just not really. It was like a 50% realization.
3. Gaia follows in the steps of her mother as a midwife. For Gaia in the beginning its service and only later does she realize what taking the babies signifies. Can you put yourself in the mother’s role, what would you do if Gaia tried to take your newborn?
I don’t think I could casually give up my child to a governing body. I think I would take her and run.
4. Gaia feels ugly because of her scar and unable to fit in within the wall (enclave) because she wasn't perfect. Do you think finding out that her parents lied to her [about how she got the scar] was able to move the story along??
I think it showed the drastic measures that her parents were willing to take to keep her and not let her get sucked into the Enclave. While intensely selfish, I think it shows desperation. I think I might have done things a bit differently if I was Gaia’s parents.