Summary (from author website): After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents disappear.
As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she faces the brutal injustice of the Enclave and discovers she alone holds the key to a secret code, a code of “birthmarked” babies and genetic merit.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where a criminal is defined by her genes, and one girl can make all the difference.
Commentary: I’ve always enjoyed reading dystopian novels, and Birthmarked’s premise sounded interesting to me–a society with a sharply divided upper class and lower class, and where a certain quota of children from the lower class are taken every month to be adopted by members of the upper class.
O’Brien’s YA debut was nicely plotted, with all your requisite dystopian features, but I wasn’t seized by the story. To be honest I was just a little bit bored. Everything was a bit predictable, and the true problem at the root of this dystopian society was revealed in a way that wasn’t all that earth-shattering or even exciting. There just didn’t seem to be a true conflict or obstacle that our heroine, Gaia, had to overcome in order to save the society she was a part of–there were plenty of personal and emotional issues that she had to deal with, which I think were handled much better.
This is the 1st book in the trilogy, and I’m not sure that I’ll be picking up the rest of the series. The writing and the story just didn’t draw me in strongly enough.
Author Website: http://www.caraghobrien.com/