Saturday, April 21, 2012

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

It's 300 years in the future, the Earth is drying out and natural resources are scarce. The Enclave is a privileged society with strict rules and harsh punishments. You either live in the Enclave or outside the wall in a seemingly different world. No matter where you live, you serve the Enclave. This is the setting of the first of three novels in the Birthmarked series.

Gaia Stone is a 16 year old midwife that lives outside the wall. Every month the first three children born in the sector HAVE to be 'advanced' to the Enclave. Gaia has been apprenticing under her mother but has recently begun working on her own when her parents are arrested. Until their arrest, Gaia does not question these advancements, she believes the story spun by that Enclave that it is in the best interest of the children. She does everything as her mother taught her, including marking each of the babies born with a distinctive 4 'freckle' pattern on their ankle. Gaia doesn't like the lack of information about her parents that she is getting from Enclave guards so she decides she needs to sneak into the Enclave to find her parents. That's when her world gets turned completely upside down.

The premise is very intriguing, however, the story is a bit sluggish right out of the gate. The first scene is attention catching, but then after that the pace slows way down until a little over one hundred pages in. The character of Gaia is a bit contradictory. She has no formal education, she is from outside the wall and is portrayed as being extremely shy and naive Then the author has Gaia using words like 'inchoate', and solving complex codes in a short amount of time when highly educated men couldn't make sense of them She is dominant and demanding one minute and then whiny and helpless the next. It's like the author couldn't decide how she wanted Gaia to be. On the other hand most other characters in the story seem a little under developed, like they were a shadow of what they could be.

I almost gave up on the book a few times but I soldiered through and am actually glad I did. The pace picks up and pieces start falling in to place. The story has definite potential and hopefully the author continues the momentum in the next book.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars


  1. Wow. I've only ever seen above-glowing reviews on this book (and series) so it's really interesting to see one that is somewhat less than glowing. It's not like you torched it though and I'm glad it seemed to get better for you in the end. Let's hope the rest of the series lives up to the hype, right? :)
    You haven't swayed me from wanting to read this one, so I'm keeping it on the reading list.
    I really appreciate your thoughtful and honest review.

    1. Thanks Lynne. I'm glad you are still planning on reading it, my intention is never to convince someone not to read a book, just to share my thoughts. After all, everyone likes something different and variety is what makes the world go round.
      Thank you for the comment. :)