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Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Birthmarked (edition 2010)

by Caragh M. O'Brien

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1,2341146,440 (3.87)61
Authors:Caragh M. O'Brien
Info:Simon and Schuster (2011), Paperback, 362 pages
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, library, read, 2013, pa, ya, sf, post-apocalypse, january, babies, midwife

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Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

  1. 81
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (PamFamilyLibrary, kathleen.morrow)
    PamFamilyLibrary: Intelligent, quickly paced YA dystopia.
    kathleen.morrow: Both have strong heroines in a dystopian society. Additionally, both have an interesting, but not overpowering romantic subplot.
  2. 20
    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (PamFamilyLibrary)
    PamFamilyLibrary: An intelligent, quickly paced YA dystopia.
  3. 21
    Wither by Lauren DeStefano (FutureMrsJoshGroban)
    FutureMrsJoshGroban: Another fantastic YA novel, set in a dystopic/post-apocalyptic universe where women are used for breeding and genetic engineering.

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» See also 61 mentions

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In my opinion, writing a good dystopian novel can be tricky. First you’re building a world on something that already exists - our world. Next, you have to take a part of our world, skew it, then write about it, but in a way that makes the reader think that this could happen, especially given the current state of the world. This is usually what I look for in my dystopian novels and I found it in Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien.

Birthmarked opens up with a birthing scene - a very gutsy move. Gaia, a young midwife, delivers her first baby; significant because it’s the first time she’s doing it on her own and because it lays the path for the reader to learn about the Enclave, the baby quota and the world that will be explored in Birthmarked.

After delivering the baby to the Enclave, Gaia heads home to find her parents have been taken to the Enclave for questioning. The mystery builds as Gaia questions why her parents were taken, what record the guards were interrogating her about and why her mother hid a ribbon with strange symbols on them.

Caragh does a great job at describing Gaia’s world and situation. Gaia’s home and all the places she travels to are carefully described, giving the reader a three dimensional view of the world. Once Gaia makes it into the walls of the Enclave the action is almost non-stop, like a wild ride with just enough pause for you to catch your breath and the right amount of twists and turns to keep you intrigued.

There is a splattering of biology in the narrative, but it is so well-weaved into the plot that it does not read like a science book. For the shipping enthusiasts there is a bit of romance which, while not necessary to the plot advancement, does a good job at adding layer of charm.

What I liked best about this book was the questions that it raised. It’s a great book to open discussions on prejudices in society, hierarchy and class. It also opens questions about the way we use our limited resources and what might happen if we aren’t careful to care for the world we have. While these are great questions, I appreciated the way that they were subtly intertwined in the narrative. There was no blaring agenda, the questions rose organically from the story and I appreciated this greatly. ( )
  iShanella | Dec 2, 2016 |
It was good. ( )
  RoseyEm | Jul 14, 2016 |
I'm literally an hour and a half away from the end of this 13 hour book and I just can't do it.

The characters stink.
The love interests have zero chemistry.
The story is just boring.

I can't waste more time on this. There are books to be read. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
Birthmarked hit upon many different keys of society and made me think, always a good thing in a book. I really felt for Gaia when she began to realize that the way her society did things was wrong and watched as her entire world fell apart. I've never been so interested in a book that held babies as a main component but I just couldn't seem to be able to put this book down until I had finished it. I am very glad for how the book ends and wonder what is in store for the next book in the series. As well as the fate of her new-found love. ( )
  mariahsidhe | May 12, 2016 |
I loved the romance in this book. Loved, loved LOVED. Okay? Okay. I also loved that it wasn't 100% obvious who the love interest was, at least at first. I was suspicious but NOT CERTAIN. Which I always enjoy, as opposed to meeting a new character who is pretty much wearing a neon sign saying "I exist to provide drama, angst, and love to the FMC!" And you're like okay.
And then they're so CUTE about it. They're all like...ridiculous. I'm going to resort to quoting from Snazel's review, because she is SO RIGHT:
"I really liked the characters here. They weren't the kind who start shouting about their emotions all over the page, which I have heard people complain about, because "you never get to know the characters," but I like it. I mean, how often in real life are we privy to people confessing exactly how that makes them feel in the middle of extensive trauma?"
(Btw visit Snazel's blog cuz she's awesome and reviews way more often than I do)
Back to Birthmarked. The plot is pretty classic dystopian YA: US has been pretty much leveled from some past event, most likely nuclear, and humans are scattered and just trying to survive, so the people with the bigger sticks end up being able to control and extort resources from the people with no sticks. Then, the MC starts realizing what's going on and is like Hey now don't be crazy.
The cool thing about this plot is that it's all about BABIES. I really liked Gaia's job. I liked seeing each birth that she helps with, and how each is different and how awesome and knowledgeable she is about birthing, even though she's so young. At one point I was thinking, "Aw, I want another birth scene!" Which...I don't normally think whilst reading.
Also did I mention the romance is awesome? Yes, yes I did.
I also liked the usefulness of all the characters, if you know what I mean. They all had very specific uses in the plot, the story, the world, or whatever...We LEARNED something from each character, none of them felt redundant. Even her parents were essential, who were not usually "on screen."
There are many mysteries in this book too, like what the Dead Forest is/does it actually exist, what is with the records and why is everyone so uptight about it, who are Gaia's brothers, why do people keep telling Gaia to go visit her dead grandmother, etc. Some mysteries are answered, some are not. Some I really wanted to be DISCUSSED at least, because I had major theories about them, but Gaia's just like "argh I don't get it" and that's all we get. So that was a little frustrating, but there IS a sequel coming, so as long as things are eventually answered, I'll be okay.
Okay so on to my major complaint about the book. Gaia, despite her incredible resourcefulness and bravery and all, isn't very...clever. The WHOLE mystery with the records, I was just like..."Duh." So when she finally figured it out, and was all like "OO MAJOR LIGHTBULB THIS IS INCREDIBLE" I was extremely underwhelmed. Also, I wanted her to THINK about her grandmother's name. JUST ONE MOMENT OF REFLECTION. And she never did. And I was like....wow. Come on. I don't know if the author thinks we're dumber than we are, or if it's just the way she's writing Gaia, but it could be very frustrating at times.
Soooo in conclusion...I have no conclusion! This was a well-plotted, well-characterized read, a little slow at points, but satisfying and still leaving you wanting more. Clever plot twists need not apply. ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
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In memory of my father, Thomond R. O'Brien, Sr.
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In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia's ready hands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

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Caragh O'Brien is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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