Author: Caragh O’Brien
Release Date: March 30th 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
Age Range/Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 361
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be “advanced” into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Birthmarked was a thought provoking and vivid read. The novel, which is set in the future, is set around a girl called Gaia, and her attempt to rescue her parents, while discovering the true reason and use of the babies which are taken from her village and given to ‘The Enclave’.
Birthmarked was an interesting and fascinating read. The world building in the book was vivid, and so it is easy to picture the world Gaia is living in. The difference in society between ‘The Enclave’ and ‘Wharfton’ are clearly shown. I particularly loved the descriptions of the markets and sellers which are bright and particularly realistic. Similarly the houses, and streets create a detailed picture of the world. Even though the book is set in the future, there is relatively little technology, which I thought was less realistic, but apart from that it I enjoyed the world which Caragh O’Brien creates in the novel!
While the book was about Gaia finding her parents, there is also some mystery around the code which her parents created, and the reason behind The Enclave needing babies. I particularly enjoyed the mystery around the code, however, I was unsure on the idea of the parents of the babies being kept secret. I have to say I was unsure through most of the novel what the problem was with revealing the names of the children’s true parents, it would help the children themselves and ensure no future children were born with deficiencies or diseases. I only completely understood at the end of the novel the reason the parents names were truly needed, and so kept from the Enclave.
In addition to the mystery surrounding the parents of the children which were ‘advanced’, there was the scientific part of the story which I thought was clever. The initial need for the ‘advanced’ babies was because of the reduced population, and so reduced gene pool, which I thought was realistic. This lead to the specific gene that The Enclave wanted to find. Again how they have the technology to find and define specific genes and strands of DNA, yet they publicly kill people through the method of hanging contradicted, in my opinion, the time period which the story is set in.
The characters themselves in the story were good, and I really like Gaia’s character, and her morals. Gaia’s characters was bold, and decisive which I liked about her. She was strong, and held a solid belief in what she believed what was right and wrong. Although, the other characters could have been more developed.
Other main characters were not very detailed or developed, only Gaia’s character was very deep, and she is the main protagonist of the story. While we get to know other characters throughout the novel, none of them have very developed personalities. This was however balanced out somewhat by the vivid world building.
Additionally there is a small romance between Gaia and Leon, which is mysterious! 😀 The romance is not not the main drive in the story, but still plays a part, and develops slowly.
Overall I liked Birthmarked, and I thought the world which Caragh O’Brien was intriguing and brilliant! The story kept me reading on. I have rated it at 3.5 stars due to the lack in character development outside the main character Gaia. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!
“There are some things, once they are done, that we can never question, because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to go on. And we have to go on, every single day”
pg 112 (UK Paperback Edition)
If you enjoyed reading Birthmarked, and would like to read books which are similar, here are my recommendations:
- Defiance – By C.J Redwine
- Breathe – By Sarah Crossan
- Exodus – By Julie Bertagna
- Imaginations – By Tara Brown (A.E Watson)
- The Testing – By Joelle Charbonneau
All the books above are similar to Birthmarked in at least one way, and are all good reads!
Happy Reading xxx