Author: Caragh O’Brien
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Square Fish
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia’s ready hands.
Goodreads blurb: In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be “advanced” into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.
Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
During the last week or so before the move – and during those first days of adjustment – I needed a book that would completely engross me, draw me into its world, and make me love its characters. Birthmarked was just that book. The author thrusts the reader right into the middle of the action, doing all of the world-building along the way, which makes for a total page-turner.
O’Brien doesn’t give the reader much history behind why the world is the way it is, but she gives plenty of description of how and what this new world is, and I had no problem believing it. The age-old conflict between the haves and the have-nots is shown in the people who live in the Enclave, and the people outside the wall. The Enclave has all of the resources and doles it out to the people outside the wall. The payment demanded is their children; the first three babies born each month are “advanced” into the Enclave, and placed with families inside the wall. The government inside the Enclave is reminiscent of the Capitol in The Hunger Games; they have no compunction about using the people outside the wall as possessions.
Gaia is a young woman who has just started working as a midwife when her parents are arrested. She has no idea what the Enclave wants with her parents, but is determined to find out – and to get them back. When she gets inside the Enclave, she learns that the picturesque life she imagined people living isn’t quite what she thought. The Enclave has its own problems, and they need Gaia – and her mother – to help solve them.
My two favorite things about this book: both of the sequels have already been released; and there isn’t a love triangle. (At least not in the first book.) I am going to read book two very soon.