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Prized (Birthmarked) Paperback – September 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Reminiscent of James's Children of Men and Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, this series practically begs to be a book club selection." ---VOYA
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Since earning an MA in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, Caragh M. O’Brien has been a high school teacher, an author of romance novels, and now a novelist for teens. Her novels Birthmarked and Prized were named YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults.  Birthmarked was also a Junior Library Guild Selection and chosen for the ALA 2011 Amelia Bloomer List.  She lives with her family and writes from her home in Connecticut.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Birthmarked (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250010314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250010315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS, all YA science fiction novels 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
Photo (c) Tomy O'Brien

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bookphile TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Birthmarked was one of those rare gems of a book that captivates me right from the start. I loved pretty much everything about it, from the dystopia that O'Brien established to the characters to the romance. As far as YA dystopian novels go, it was one of the best I've read, with fully realized characters and a complex plot that I could really sink my teeth into. Naturally, I was eagerly awaiting the sequel and did everything I could to get my hands on a copy of it as soon as possible. Given this, it was an enormous letdown for me to read Prized. Caution: there will be spoilers in this review.

Right from the start, I was surprised in a negative way by the book. Nothing at all is recounted of Gaia's time spent in the wasteland with her sister, not one word. Instead, the book opens with Gaia being scooped up, rescued, and promptly dropped into the middle of yet another dystopian society. I could not believe that the author passed up an opportunity to show more of Gaia's strengths. The story of Gaia's flight practically begs to be told, and I was stunned that it wasn't addressed in the book at all. What a missed opportunity to flesh out not only Gaia's strength of will, but to establish the strength of the bond between her and her sister.

The next unpleasant surprise for me came in the form of the setting: Sylum. I could not for the life of me figure out why Gaia had been plucked from one dystopia just to be plunked down in another. For chapter after chapter, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading some other book or some alternate version of Birthmarked. I simply could not see how Gaia's time in Sylum furthered the plot. Essentially, Birthmarked and Prized are like two stand alone books rather than two installments in a trilogy.
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47 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A. Shibley on April 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
It's hard for me to write this review, because I actually liked the book and plan to read the third. Had it been aimed at an older audience, I would have rated it much higher. But the ridiculous hypocrisy of the book is a but much to take.


Let me get this straight. Gaia can kiss Leon and wriggle around a little on his lap, but that's the extent of the sexual content. Apparently, the author/publisher believes that's as much as is appropriate for a 12-year-old audience.

However, we can have a long, lengthy, and detailed discussion of why abortion is an important personal right. Because that's far less controversial than some heavy petting. Whatever your views on abortion, it's a very sensitive topic that many families believe is completely equivalent to the heartless murder of an innocent infant. I think it's a bit less appropriate to champion this cause to young audiences than to include some mild sexual content. And let's not use euphemisms like "miscarry." If you willingly terminate a pregnancy, it's an abortion. Saying otherwise is an insult to people who have had involuntary miscarriages. If you're going to take a stand, have the guts to call it what it is instead of wimping out.

The author has every right to write a novel about abortion, and the inclusion of that topic wouldn't prevent me from reading that novel. But if we're going to target this to pre-teens, their parents have the right to know that the novel promotes abortion. It's not mentioned in the cover flap or the description of the book, so I'm mentioning it now. If you'd rather discuss abortion personally with your child than have her read an author's diatribe on it, think twice about this book for your pre-teen.

That being said, it's a pretty good read for older audiences.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TillyMom on November 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked 'Birthmarked', the first in this series. I really did. But, unfortunately, I can not in any way recommend this book. The author has blatantly condoned abortion. It was very disappointing and honestly made my stomach turn. It wasn't a consideration of abortion in the case of rape or incest. It was abortion because a 16-year-old girl was careless, irresponsible, and not prepared for the consequences. When the baby had been killed, the author passed things off curtly as if it were no big deal. Whether one supports abortion or not, those who have gone through an abortion know that it is a big deal.

I can't believe a mother would write such a story, especially a story that is marketed to young girls. It is saddening.

I so enjoyed the first book. I wish the second compared. In fact, the second is SO different that I question if the author stayed true to her own voice and beliefs. I wonder, when reading the author's acknowledgements, if she weren't somehow unduly influenced by her editor. The first book was about freedom and the worth of the individual and the preservation of life. The second was clearly a statement that medically-induced abortion is good and that there need be no regrets. Don't worry, be happy.

(In addition, the book was too detailed when it came to physical intimacy.)

It seems like the author lost her way. At least, I hope she did, and that she doesn't really believe the conclusions to which her characters came in the book. Of course, even if she doesn't believe that abortion is good, her writing is doing its very best to convince multitudes of young women that abortion is a fine choice and that if they do want to "miscarry", as the author so delicately refers to medically-induced abortion, they won't regret it.
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