Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It's Gaia's job to "advance" a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia's parents disappear.

As Gaia's efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she faces the brutal injustice of the Enclave and discovers she alone holds the key to a secret code, a code of "birthmarked" babies and genetic merit.

My thoughts:
Birthmarked is much darker than most dystopian novels I have read. I love how it is set in the Lake Superior area - the story somehow feels more real when it's set in a real place. All through Birthmarked we get a lot of information about how this dystopian world came about, and why the society is split between those inside and outside the wall, and all of this makes it a very believable setting. 

Gaia is a very reasonable sixteen-year-old, and she's got such a strong sense of what is right and wrong. She does not always make the smartest decisions, often based on how incredibly naive she still is, but that is what makes her feel real. None of the other characters felt as real to me, and I would have loved to see some of them described a little more. I'm having a hard time putting my finger on exactly why I didn't like Birthmarked as much as everyone else, but I think it mostly comes down to the similarities to so many other dystopian novels; the world divided into the haves and have-nots, and the teenage girl who can change it all. But then again, it works.

The cover:
Beautiful, but a little too cluttered for my taste.

My rating of this book:
3.5 stars out of 5

Want a second opinion? Check out these reviews written by some of my book blogging friends:

Want to know more?
Add Birthmarked to your Goodreads wishlist
Visit Caragh M. O'Brien's website
Follow Caragh on Twitter

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Published: March 30th 2010
Pages (hardcover): 362
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 1596435690 (ISBN13: 9781596435698)
Full disclosure: Checked out at my local library

This book can be purchased from a number of local retailers and on-line book stores such as Amazon or The Book Depository (I'm not an affiliate of either). The latter store does by the way have free shipping to about 100 countries.


  1. I'm on the fence about this one, I don't think I'll be buying it anytime soon(but I would like to read it one day). Great and honest review, Nina :)

  2. I'd never heard of this one before, but I think I'm going to keep an eye out for a few more reviews before I decide. It looks interesting but I'm not sure!

  3. I keep seeing this one and it has definitely caught my interest. I prefer the US cover to the UK one. I think your cover suits the book better.

  4. Sounds creepy, just like dystopia books should be.
    But yes the cover is cluttered

  5. I actually really enjoyed this book, mainly because of how strong Gaia was. I would have been happier with a stronger love interest though. What's his face was a bit too weak for my taste.

    I haven't bid you welcome yet Nina! I adore Miz Ladybug and this blog and I'm very glad you decided to come and play with us all in book blog land. I'm more of a lurker than a commenter but rest assured (both of you) I'm always reading. We must have a similar book muse because we reviewed this book on the same day!

  6. Oh, I hate it when I can't put my finger on what it is about a book I don't like. I know it's there, I just don't know what it is. It doesn't help me like a book very much when that happens!

    I'm kinda interested in this one, but I think I'll get it from the library.

  7. Thanks for the honest review. Donna

  8. This sounds really good, I like a darker tone to stories sometimes. Just added it to my list :-)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)