Friday, March 26, 2010

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Gaia just delivered her first advanced. In a world that has been ravaged by the energy hungry people of the past, Gaia’s world at the beginning of the 25th century consists of months of no rain, eating mycoprotein, living on the shores of the unlake (once, one of the Great Lakes) and serving as a midwife. Every month, three babies from Wharfton, a town outside the walls of the Enclave, are taken from their mothers and given a better chance at life inside the protected walls of those with more wealth and privilege.

Gaia doesn’t mind too much. With the scar covering most of the left side of her face, she’s an abomination to others, but her parents still love her. And with dedication, Gaia is striving to become as good as midwife as her mother and better at serving the Enclave.

Until one night when the Guards arrest her parents and Gaia’s mother’s assistant flees to the Dead Forest. And at her own home, Gaia first meets young Captain Gray, with hard eyes, no emotions, and a vested interest in his service to the Protectorat. After their encounter, Gaia begins to wonder what will happen, but the uncertain future turns into action when she is given a secret her parents have been keeping from everyone....

Gaia ventures out of Wharfton and away from her normal life of hard work, rewarded by TValtar passes for entertainment, to the white-washed, perfect world of the Enclave. She will find her parents and help them escape from prison…but will they make it out?

Add this to the list of amazing dystopian YA novels already published. O’Brien’s dark future and the rules that govern the new world go hand in hand with some of today’s controversial issues, especially ones dealing with genetics. The stark reality that Gaia and the others live and deal with as normalcy slowly evolves into an awareness of what is truly happening not only in their lives, but in their societies as well. This is the first installment, with a sequel to follow and will definitely be an excellent companion lit to Collins’s Hunger Games and Shusterman’s Unwind.

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