Birthmarked – By Caragh O’Brien Review

BMS+SUKcoverBlog1Title: Birthmarked

Author: Caragh O’Brien

Release Date: March 30th 2010

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

Age Range/Genre: Young Adult

Number of Pages: 361

ISBN: 9780857071392

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

MY THOUGHTS

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!

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Favourite Quote:
“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)

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If you enjoyed reading Birthmarked, and would like to read books which are similar, here are my recommendations:

  1. Defiance – By C.J Redwine
  2. Breathe – By Sarah Crossan
  3. Exodus – By Julie Bertagna 
  4. Imaginations – By Tara Brown (A.E Watson)
  5. 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

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Matched – By Ally Condie Review

matched-ally-condie-book-coverTitle: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Release Date: November 30th 2010

Publisher: Penguin Group

Age Range/Genre: Young Adult

Number of Pages: 366

ISBN: 9780142419779

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


RATING: 3.5 Stars

MY THOUGHTS

Matched is a book which I have had quite a while. I will admit this was not the first time that I attempted to read the book.  A couple of years ago I attempted the book, and out of dislike for the main character, and out of boredom I stopped reading early on in the story. However, I decided that I would have another go, as I know a couple of people who liked the book, and I did get through the book this time, and enjoyed it!

After reading through the whole of the book, I enjoyed the story and the romance between Cassia and Ky. The idea of a future society where everything is controlled is very similar to The Giver by Lois Lowry, however the romance between the main characters, Cassia, Ky and Xander features more prominently. Similarly, through the novel it shows how peoples love for each other mean that they bend the rules.

The criticisms that I had with the novel was that I found the story could slow at times. While Cassia is breaking rules of the society she lives in, there is not much action in the novel, and neither is the novel very fast paced. The book for me took a while to get into, however further into the story I found it became more interesting.

What I enjoyed about Matched was the romance between Cassia and Ky. It was not an ‘insta-love’ and throughout the book more is revealed about Ky so you feel as if you are beginning to understand him. Their relationship was sweet, and you can see Cassia slowly falling for Ky :). I also enjoyed the futuristic world, which was easy to imagine as the world building was good. Similarly, throughout the novel certain privileges and objects are taken away from Cassia and her family showing more clearly how every aspect of their lives is controlled by the government.

While the romance between Cassia, and Ky is the main story line, their relationship also opens up onto showing what is wrong with the society. I was left questioning at the end who put Ky into the matching ceremony, and why? Also I was left intrigued at who they were at war with.

Additionally Ally Condie’s writing style is enjoyable and beautiful to read. Towards the end of Matched I really got into the book; as more is revealed it left me questioning what was happening, and wanting to read the next book in the trilogy – Crossed!

Overall I rate Matched 3.5 stars. While I did enjoy the novel, I found the beginning slow. However if you enjoy a futuristic world and romance I would not let this put you off reading it, and I recommend the book!

MatchedQuote

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If you enjoyed Matched and would like to read books which are similar, here are my recommendations:

I thoroughly enjoyed each of these books, and highly recommend them!

Happy Reading xxx