Guest Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Why I chose this book:
 Even though the Dystopian craze is dying down, I am still drawn to those stories that sound unique, and do not utilize the same five or six variations of the same popular plots. From the summary this book gave the impression that it would have an unconventional spin on what would happen when one group of people is separated from another, but only by a wall. I found it interesting that the sixteen-year-old lead character is a midwife. This was essentially what hooked me into choosing it. I also have liked almost every book I have read from this imrpint, Square Fish (also known as Feiwel and Friends), which includes the Syrena Legacy Series and The Lunar Chronicles. I actually almost chose this book the first time I participated in Amanda’s Free Books and Cool Opportunities for You, but ended up choosing another because I was in a Fantasy mood rather than a Dystopian one.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'brien
Publisher: Square Fish
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
B&N  ||  Amazon  ||  Book Depository

IN THE ENCLAVE, YOUR SCARS SET YOU APART, and the newly born will change the future.

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. A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish. (Goodreads)

My Bookish Thoughts:
 I was pleasantly surprised by Birthmarked; I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting to. I found that I had no idea what was going to happen because it is so different from other books I have read. I rarely am unable to at least somewhat predict what will happen, so this made it a delightful read.

 Birthmarked revolved around the plot more than the characters, which is not a bad thing. It worked really well in this case. Even though it is truly a dystopian book, it had a hint of mystery, subtle romance, and some great action, which combined into a kick-butt plot. The plot definitely was centered on the main character, Gaia, who I had a hard time empathizing with at first because she seemed so feeble for most of the book. Initially, I really wanted her to “take the bull by the horns” (like some other popular strong female characters lately). She does eventually, but she just does it in her own way, not the way I originally wanted her to. As the story unfolds, I could completely understand why she was so tentative of her decisions throughout the book. Her uncertainty fit with how her society had raised her.

 I also loved the way Caragh had her characters interact in a very organic way; you could not always peg how they were going to respond to Gaia. Caragh made you see and feel every interaction like how Gaia would see it, not in the third-party way of how it actually transpired.

 Honestly, this book earned my respect because of the last 75-or-so pages. I could not put it down towards the end. I would never have guessed where Caragh was taking certain aspects of the story and I loved it.

 Birthmarked kept me on my toes while reading it, and it was an awesome feeling to get to undergo. I have already ordered the second book and cannot wait to see how Gaia’s story will continue.

 I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

About the Reviewer:
 Emma is a math major at college in Seattle, WA. She has previously worked at a bookshop, and decided she wants to work with books in the future for a job. When she is not reading YA, you can find her baking,knitting, or hanging out with friends. You can connect with Emma on her Goodreads.


  1. I'm so happy to see a review of this book somewhere. Back in the days before I blogged I read this series and loved it but saw little mention of it anywhere. I think this was probably one of the most original dystopian trilogies I read during that craze and I never got to rave about it. I agree with a lot of what you say about the character of Gaia, she wasn't necessarily the protagonist I would have wanted, but she is wonderful anyway. And the twists in this story are so unexpected, I love a book I can't predict because they don't appear often enough.

    1. It really is one of the most unique, huh? I am so glad I had the chance to read it! The next two are waiting on my shelves for my quarter in college to be over :)

  2. I am always up for trying a new unique dystopian! I have had this one on my TBR pile for a while now.

    1. Do it! It was a breath of fresh air in terms of the dystopian genre. And it was quite intricate of a plot, I was on my toes the entire time!


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