Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Birth Marked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: Birth Marked
Author:  Caragh M. O'Brien
Genre: YA, Post Apocalyptic, sci-fi, romance
Perfect for: Fans of raw sci-fi like Hunger Games or Enders Game

Gaia, a sixteen year old midwife from behind the wall, never thought anything about the birthing law demanding that the first three babies delivered a month were to be taken to be 'advanced' inside the wall.  Advanced babies were to grow up in much better conditions than those behind the wall so there was no need to fear for their safety.  When her mother and father are taken captive by the government, accused of treason, Gaia has to make a decision that will change her life forever. Adding to her discomfort is something Old Meg, a family friend, gave her. Something her mother wanted kept hidden.  Does she stay and take over her mothers midwifery, or does she save her parents even if it means venturing into the unknown?

What a surprise!  I really enjoyed this book.  There were some faults, but overall, it was a great read.  Starting off with the characters...  'Birth Marked' has a small cast of characters, but a good cast of cast of characters.  The novel is told from Gaia's point of view.  With a face half scarred by a child hood incident, Gaia is considered a 'freak' by most in her village, but is liked, nonetheless, for her talent of delivering babies.  She is an interesting mix of shyness, sarcasm, and strength.  While some find this unbelievable, I don't mind.  She actually kind of reminds me of myself.  Shy and quite from a strangers perspective, but sarcastic and goofy to friends.

Also among the characters is Leon.  First introduced questioning Gaia about her family, he turns into a character you have to wonder about.  He has many mysteries about him and, even with this rude introduction, I really liked his character.  Leon and Gaia, well, I found them cute together, regardless of his background.

When it comes to the story, expect elements to be more raw than your typical book.  Just like 'Hunger Games' or 'Enders Game', 'Birth Marked' has a storyline driven by elements that aren't pretty or common.  The fact that this story starts in a society where babies are taken forcibly from mothers should give you that impression right off the bat.  Later on, as secrets are revealed, we learn that the plot is even more rooted to reality (though I won't mention how as to not spoil you!).  The other thing that is great about the storyline is that it isn't just about a couple in puppy love mode.  Gaia has a task she must complete and sticks to it, letting romance in but not letting it take away her goal.

What I didn't expect from this title was that it was the beginning of a series.  I thought it was going to be a stand-alone.  I was wrong.  The ending is so open ended.  Although I haven't found any information on a sequel, it's necessary..  The plot in this brings up so many questions-- none of which are answered.  I'd be upset if the society portrayed in 'Birth Marked' stayed the some.  Someone needs to change it, preferably in a sequel!

'Birth Marked' is available on store shelves and online.

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