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Birthmarked Paperback – October 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Birthmarked (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; d edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312674724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312674724
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—In a dystopian world of the future, apprentice midwife Gaia, who has served the Enclave faithfully along with her parents, is thrust suddenly into a crisis. She delivers her first baby independently of her midwife mother and takes it to the Enclave inside the Wall as the first of her monthly quota of three newborns. Then her parents are arrested and she learns that they will soon be executed. Gaia springs into action and smuggles herself into the Enclave to rescue them. What follows is an exciting, almost breakneck adventure, as Gaia tries to discover what information the Enclave wants from her and her mother and tries to save both of them from prison. Along the way there is a mildly romantic turn to the story as Gaia develops a friendship and attraction to one of the soldiers, a man with a mysterious past. This world is one in which a small society, composed of an elite inside the Wall and a subservient class outside, is completely cut off from knowledge of anyone or anything outside of its borders. The rulers are authoritarian and mysterious and resemble a monarchy rather than the strictly ideological communitarian system in Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993). The cliff-hanger ending sets up the action for a sequel. Readers who enjoy adventures with a strong heroine standing up to authority against the odds will enjoy this compelling tale.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

It’s been 300 years since Lake Michigan became Unlake Michigan; the “cool age” is only hazily known to residents of Wharfton, a small village that sits alongside the walled city of the Enclave. Gaia is 16 and works in Western Sector Three with her mother delivering babies, “advancing” the first three per month to live a better life inside the city. It’s a wrenching routine Gaia doesn’t question until her parents are mysteriously arrested by Enclave authorities. Gaia’s rescue attempt is fraught with peril—the burn scar on her face marks her as a “freak” who would never be allowed into the Enclave’s exclusive gene pool—and soon she herself is tossed into a cell with other female physicians. Although the setup suggests speculative fiction, O’Brien’s concerns are corporeal; her impulsive and spirited heroine (who even resists, yes, romance) is the kind readers adore. The facts behind inbreeding and the numerous birthing scenes will give this an added appeal to science-minded teens. Continual revelations push this toward an ending that hints at more to come. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS, a new YA sci fi novel from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Her novels have been honored by the YALSA BFYA, the Junior Library Guild, the Amelia Bloomer List, and state reading lists in Texas, Arkansas, Utah, Georgia, and Rhode Island. Ms. O'Brien lives with her family in Connecticut, and recently resigned from teaching high school English to write. For more information, visit www.caraghobrien.com.
Photo (c) Tomy O'Brien

Customer Reviews

Excellent story, very good characters, well written.
Laura
I really fell in love with the character of Gaia, she is so strong, passionate, determinded and most important of all likeable.
Georgina Scott
The characters are 2-dimensional and the plot is too predictable to have boring characters.
Kate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 115 people found the following review helpful By S. Power TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gaia's world is outside the wall. She is a midwife and those outside the wall are required to give up three of their babies to the enclave inside the wall where they will live the privileged life every month. When Gaia's parents go missing she suddenly questions her existence and the rules that her society has always followed. She breaks into the enclave and finds that things there aren't as perfect as they've always seemed.

As the story continues the moral story of a perfect race and the perils of inbreeding and genetic manipulation (with an elementary genetics lesson wrapped in) becomes an engrossing one and Gaia has to make difficult choices to save herself and do what she knows is right.

Gaia is a wonderfully strong teen heroine. She fights for what's right and won't let anyone or anything stop her. If you liked Katniss from The Hunger Games and Tally from the Uglies series you'll love Gaia.

The ending is complete yet leaves space for a sequel which I will be thrilled to purchase.

Appropriateness: There isn't any subject manner that will annoy adults. No drinking, drugs, sex or graphic violence. The romance is sweet and the herione is the type of girl that parents would like their daughters to be.
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80 of 98 people found the following review helpful By YA book lover on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
An ARC of "Birthmarked" was gifted to me by my friend, so I feel kind of bad for giving this book such a low rating, but at the same time I don't want to sugar coat it either. The thing is, "Birthmarked" is not one of those horrid books that I despise for awful writing or atrocious characters ("Evermore" and "Hush, Hush" come to mind). It is not bad, but it is simply boring and unremarkable. To be honest, only a marginally interesting premise kept me skimming last 200 pages of the book instead of giving up on it completely.

Gaia Stone is a 16-year old midwife in training in a small village near a walled city called Enclave. At the beginning of the book Gaia assists in birthing a baby and an hour later "advances" it, meaning she takes the baby from its mother and gives it over to the Enclave guards to be raised inside the city walls. Even though the mother of the child is in tears, Gaia advances the baby without any hesitation, this is a part of her job and she knows it's a right thing to do. When later that night Gaia reaches her home, she is told that her parents were arrested and are now imprisoned within the city. The girl doesn't understand why it happened, the only clue to their possible discretion is a hair ribbon covered in mysterious symbols that Gaia'a parents left behind. What follows is Gaia's quest to find her parents and uncover the importance of the ribbon.

I think the first major mistake the publisher of "Birthmarked" makes is that it markets it as a cross between "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Hunger Games" which happen to be two of my favorites. Trust me, it not even close to either of these books. It lacks the depth and emotional impact of the first and non-stop action and hot teenage romance of the second.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By navyblue on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
*Contains spoilers*

I just finished Birthmarked. The premise is quite good: an accepted and largely uncontested baby quota, a midwife marking the babies in secret and keeping some kind of record, and a looming, exclusive society inside a large wall.

Sadly, the book did not deliver. The story feels awkward and ill-done.

My main issues as I was reading were:

1. The foundation for the society as a whole.

We get that the Enclave rose up after some kind of environmental disaster. The founders created a community that appears to have most of the advances of our day (called the cool age in the book): electricity, computers, running water, and indoor plumbing, though it sounds like the women mostly wear cloaks and dresses. It seems to be a fairly self-sufficient city, we know they have a factory to manufacture some kind of mycoprotein food item, but we are left to assume that they also have the means to manufacture computer parts, light bulbs, clothing, fuel, and more. It's difficult to suspend reality when you're always wondering how people eat or where they get their water.

The sectors outside the wall don't seem to be needed for any kind of product (other than babies), and Grey hints that those outside the wall arrived after the Enclave was built and 'leeched' off the system. We're told that those inside the wall sneer, somewhat, at the 'lowlifes' outside, yet their babies are desirable for genetic diversity.

It's unclear as to why the larger city inside the wall would have diseases as a result of intermarrying where those outside the city would not. Aren't those outside the wall also marrying each other? Or are new people coming through the 'wasteland' and adding to their populace?
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed this book fairly well. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it, either. I think, really, that I won't know how I truly feel about this story until after I've read the next book, because it's obvious there will be a next book. But I am intrigued enough to *want* to read the next book, which is a good thing.

Gaia's character is very naïve and accommodating, sometimes too much so. But she wasn't raised to believe anything was potentially wrong with her way of life, and she trusts the Enclave implicitly. So I found this part of her personality believable. Her journey to discover what the Enclave is really like was both interesting and appealing, and her motivations fit the story well. She didn't grow as much as I was hoping, but perhaps that will come in the next book.

Some of the plot elements didn't make logical sense, like the lack of record keeping or the level of genetic testing available to the Enclave. I didn't quite believe that the Enclave could do certain types of genetic testing, but not others. And, considering how important genetics are to the Enclave, someone, somewhere, would have kept some kind of minimal record keeping of the advanced babies. At the very least, they would have kept track of the babies who were related to one another. Also, the Enclave's obsession with appearance and need for certain genetic backgrounds seem too conflicting. But, perhaps that will be further explained in the next book.

Still, I'm curious what will happen next, and will definitely read the next book. I'm hoping then I will be able to form a more solid opinion of whether or not this is a story I can recommend.
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