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Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy) Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 2, 2012
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More than a year has passed since Birthmarked (2010), and in this trilogy ender, 17-year-old Gaia returns to the walled city of the Enclave along with her Sylum followers, who are desperate to once again have female babies. But things have changed in the Enclave. The ruthless Protectorat has created the Vessel Institute: a baby factory for birthing offspring for wealthy but childless couples. Will the standoff between camps be breached by diplomacy or violent assault? (Take a guess.) Though some of Gaia’s impulsive actions to save her beloved Leon strain credulity, this is a satisfying finish to a strong series that deftly mixed romance and, of all things, genetics. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus
"A satisfying finish to a strong series that deftly mixed romance and, of all things, genetics." ---Booklist --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
Top customer reviews
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Rating: 2.5 Stars
This will have spoilers!!!
It's impossible to discuss the final book in a trilogy without spoilers. It has been a real struggle to come up with a "Star" rating for this book, I have to admit. I think that is because there were parts of the books I liked enough to say 3.5 and those I disliked enough to say 2. I've settled on 2.5 Stars as my overall rating. I wrote the review with a "3″ and then realized I just didn't feel that way. As an ending to a series I've mostly enjoyed, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Let me start with what I liked.
It was a quick read, but not always well paced for my taste. Some sections dragged a bit. Overall though, a quick read. I enjoyed Gaia's brothers Jack and "Pyrho." They weren't deep, but they were fun. I enjoyed the reappearance of Myrna Silk, who is a fabulous, crotchety, independent ol' gal. I liked that the people of Wharfton were finally ready to put it all on the line and revolt. And I liked the part of the story when they were preparing to fight. And then...
There was everything else. The rest was mostly frustrating.
Gaia - I don't understand the Gaia in this book really. She starts out tough and the people are following her, so you think she's the same girl she was in Sylum, when she really grew and fought for what she believed in. Except O'Brien keeps emphasizing Gaia's unwillingness to cause any harm to others...to the point that she throws up if she hurts someone. And somehow this weakness in her is one she transfers over to her own people, avoiding the tough choices and tough approach that is pretty obviously needed at this point. Her insistence on negotiating with the Protectorat was completely implausible, IMHO. The character is a one-dimensional villain who never negotiates or deviates in any way from the most nefarious possible action step. So why would she march herself in there and offer herself up like a sacrificial lamb OVER AND OVER again? I don't get it. It's like she's suddenly got brain damage. She's young and she's kind, but she was never stupid. The Gaia in this book, to me, is actually stupid.
Finally at one point she has an "ah-ha" moment when she realizes that though she dislikes doing dirty work herself, she's perfectly ok with letting Leon do it for her. So then she gets a spine for a moment (a chapter really) and decides that they do have to fight back. Everyone is all ready to do that and then...she changes her mind AGAIN and decides to march to her own doom (along with nearly all her people) AGAIN. The premise is that they would be slaughtered if they didn't take the non-violent approach, but in this story, it's not really a fit because the villains are so uncompromisingly evil. Why would they give a crud that her people offered themselves? She doesn't even barter well with what they do have - genetic diversity. Which leads me to my next issue...
The Science Gap - As you know, I am a science geek and I love dystopians that deal in science fiction. I don't mind fantasy, but when one attempts to explain things scientifically, it helps if it makes sense. Previously O'Brien has presented some scientific explanations for some aspects of her world, but I always found it to have a few holes (for example, when I reviewed Prized, I wondered why the next step was to return to the Enclave as if NO ONE ELSE in the world existed and no other place was safe. So the apocalypse that changed their world eliminated all but 5000 people? Implausible. And, there is the fact that the Enclave had rudimentary medicine and science at best (Sephie is a doctor, ok. Not sophisticated.) But in this book, they've somehow found a way to harvest ovaries and grow a bunch of genetically manipulated embryos and do IVF...it's crazy that they went from barely having antibiotics to that level of manipulation.
AND they aren't even doing the right thing with it. When they said they wanted Gaia's ovaries and were going to CUT THEM OUT OF HER to harvest her eggs, I was like, "WHAT?" Why would you do that? Her own body can produce much better if you leave them in her and harvest the eggs. She's only seventeen. O'Brien tried to explain this but it was a no-go for me. Plus, they aren't even going for genetic diversity, which is the main antithesis to inbreeding. Also not well explained enough for me. It seemed like a made up vehicle to place the beloved Gaia in grave and unspeakable danger. Also, with regards to that surgery and its aftermath...I've had an ovary removed myself and BELIEVE ME, you don't run around and fight wars and save people hours after your stitched back up. That was just too tough to take.
And, the Vessel Institute women wear this weird blue glowing bracelet that is cut off once they deliver. It's so important that they have it on the cover of the book. But what is it for besides tracking? Does it imprison them somehow? Doesn't seem like, since it can just be cut off. Is the only thing about it the fact that it's a human LoJack? Who cares? I didn't get the bracelet. The first mother that delivers has hers cut off and her head slumps and I guess it's supposed to be from sadness or something but at the time I thought, "Ha! The bracelets do something important."
Oh, and they strap Gaia down and electrocute her massively before harvesting said ovaries and eggs. PROBABLY not medically recommended.
The Love Triangle - I was pretty done with this in book two and glad to have it resolved. Buuuuuutttt it is brought back in this book in sort of the most frustrating manner possible. Gaia wants the Chardos to remain piningly in love with her while she ignores them and bosses them around in favor of Leon. What's worse is she resolves it by killing off Peter in what turns out to basically be an "aside" and that somehow breaks Will's interest in her too and everybody's happy. What? I could have done with the death of the love triangle (and not Peter maybe) in book two. Let the dead rest in piece.
Leon and Gaia - Sigh. I REALLY wanted to like this, but I didn't like them in this book either. First of all, the author implies that Leon and Gaia have been having sex, but she never gives you a sex scene. It happened off "Stage Left" I guess, which is a major disappointment, let's just be honest. The whole thing with Leon is all about smolder and she left out the satisfaction at the end. And if you think they're too young to be having sex, that's fine. Don't tell us that they did. Either they did it and you give the reader a peek into that moment, or they didn't do it at all, but just referring to it? I saw another reviewer who said, "WHO DOES THAT?" about this aspect and I have to agree.
And before you think I'm just a lech who wants a hot scene, that's not the main issue I had with the love story in this book. The issue is all the scenes with the Protectorat wherein he attempts to sway her option of Leon, and she sits and listens and lets him sway her. It's very weird and seems inconsistent with Gaia overall. It makes you start to wonder where the author is going and if you should be wary of Leon as well. It totally destroys the romantic vibe, I think.
In the end, I actually can't recommend this title very strongly. If you've read the rest and want to know how it ends, you might like it. Some people do. I've seen five stars for this work. But for me it was not my favorite.
In the second book the heroine flees the torture and the villain who runs the enclave seeking another society which may provide safety. She finds them, but it turns out that there are environmental hazards that also affect fertility of this population. This leads to the third book. To escape this toxic environment not only does the heroine return, but she leads an entire group of people back to the enclave with the villain who then tortures her, as well as her main love interest and has a henchman perform surgery to remove all of her eggs so they may be fertilized and given to other people with money.
These are really complicated themes, that get short shrift. You have to really willingly suspend all disbelief to get through the last book. At one point, the heroine draws the attention of the villain to a family who helped her escape in the first book and it apparantly takes days for the villain to get around to targeting them, though it takes much less time for them to remove and fertilize her eggs. The boy friends are cardboard characters. One is suspected by the "adoptive parents" of having molested a sister who kills herself - though apparantly the allegations are false. Small children are toted around like mascots and somehow survive.
I didn't find this to be a serious treatment of parentage, family, and societal themes. It's got too much torture and senseless violence to be a light romp in the park either. At the end I was neither entertained, nor intellectually challenged. I did regret having spent the time reading the second and third books.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved the second book in the series so much and was hopeful that the strength of character and fortitude would continue through this...Read more
Big let down