Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

6 Oct

Series: Birthmarked, book #1

Published: March 30th 2010 by Roaring Brook Press

Details: Hardcover, 362 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

In a dystopian world set approximately 400 years in the future, 16-year old Gaia goes on a rescue mission to save her parents who have been arrested for traitory. It was an overall great read, with an intriguing world-building, good writing and a kick-ass heroine. The plot that at times felt too convenient, and a few holes in the world-building had the grade lowered.

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Synopsis:

In the enclave, your scars will set you apart, and the newly born will change the future.
Sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone and her mother faithfully deliver their quota of three infants every month. But when Gaia’s mother is brutally taken away by the very people she serves, Gaia must question whether the Enclave deserves such loyalty. A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

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My Full Review:

Birthmarked started out as a 5/5.

It captivated me immediately, and for the first half of the book I had a hard time letting it go. I kept thinking about it all the time, and was dying to get back to reading whenever I was working or doing something else. In other words, all symptoms of it being a 5:er were there. But half way through my interest faded, and it didn’t peak again until just towards the end.

My overall feeling on finishing the book was that the potential was there (which is what I felt in the beginning), but that it failed to fully deliver. A shame.

But let me start with what captured me in the beginning:

The writing and the world-building drew me in so smoothly, that before I knew it, I was completely immersed into the world of Gaia, who lives outside the walls of the Enclave, the governing state. Gaia was a heroine I immediately grew fond of, because of her kick-ass personality. She was brave and tough and fought for what she believed was right.

Early on in the book, we realise that Gaia’s parents have been doing something illegal, which has been put into some sort of undecipherable code. This peaked my interest straight away, as I anticipated the unraveling of said code and secret.

We also meet Captain Grey, one of the Enclave’s tough guards, who may or may not have an interest in Gaia. He reminded me of the fierce Valek in Poison Study, which is a great compliment right there.

In short, you could safely say that my interest had been captured!

What happened next is that Gaia smuggles herself into The Enclave in order to save her parents. However, it was after some time inside The Enclave, that my interest began to fade. The plot started to feel a bit too convenient, like when Gaia needed somewhere to hide, suddenly someone would appear in a doorway and whisk her in. She would get help just about everywhere, and everything would just always solve itself, in the most random and implausible manner. I can take one or two events happening this way, but not throughout an entire novel.

Secondly, the unraveling of the secret wasn’t fully explained. I was wondering why on earth it was such a big deal, what Gaia’s parents did? And seeing as the Enclave had such a problem with inbreeding, why hadn’t they thought of said thing themselves? It seemed odd.

The ending made up for some of the short-comings, as it was action-filled, tensed and made me swoon. It’s no cliff-hanger but slightly open-ended for a sequel to fill the holes.

The sequel Prized, is to be published in November 8th this year.

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5 Responses to “Review: Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien”

  1. patsy October 6, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Hiya
    Yeah this one was a little forgettable for me too
    New one called Ashes by Ilsa Bick is fantastic. Great zombie apocalypse dystopia that you actually get to be there for the start of instead of years later. Clever capable heroine, a dog, little girl and yummy soldier boy. First half of book action packed survival and second part weird little town cult setup. Ending is quite the shock and has been on my mind for days. Anyway best thing I have read since Divergent.
    Patsy

    • tess October 6, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      Hey Pat, yep, forgettable is the word for this one. As for Ashes, wow it really sounds great! And it definitely sounds like something I’d love too. In fact, I just ordered it, so we’ll find out soon :-) Good to get your book recommendations, as always.
      Tess

  2. jenika October 16, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    uhm… I’ll try to look both for Ashes and Birthmarked… they both seems interesting…

    • tess October 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      Great! Would love to hear your thoughts on Birthmarked! I haven’t read Ashes yet, but will do as soon as it arrives in my mail, I hope it’s as good as everyone says it is..

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre « After Twilight… - November 6, 2011

    […] thoughts regarding this book, are nearly identical as with Birthmarked. It started out strong with plenty of potential, but half way through the plot simply fizzled out. […]

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