Book Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Birthmarked is the first novel in a series by Caragh M. O’Brien. It was published on 28th April by Simon and Schuster and the book is 368 pages long.

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

What I thought
So many great things have been said about this book and I was really looking forward to taking it on holiday with me because of this.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get on very well with Birthmarked to begin with. I knew beforehand that the initial idea of the plot was about babies but I really had no idea about how detailed some things would be. I’m really not a fan of babies to begin with at all so mix this in with scenes of birthing and it was like my own personal hell. Due to these things, I found the beginning of this book really hard to get through and almost gave up on it several times. I would have much preferred for things to not be as graphic and for me, disturbing.

I am really glad that I didn’t give up though as Birthmarked turned out to be a fantastic read… if you can forget about the gross baby scenes that is. Caragh M. O’Brien has created a truly amazing world. There were so many rules and regulations as to who could do what but it never got confusing. It was always extremely clear to me who rules things and who doesn’t have a say in anything. I really loved how detailed the world of Birthmarked was and how much thought had gone into the smallest details.

Gaia was a wonderful main character. At such a young age, she had to deal with a lot of things and this made her strong, brave and determined. She did extremely well to put up with and cope with all of the difficulties that got thrown her way. I also loved Gaia because she wasn’t the typically beautiful and perfect teenage girl. Gaia’s character sets a really good example for young girls by showing that beauty on the outside isn’t everything and that it really is what is on the inside that counts. She is so sweet and caring about other people and sometimes, others couldn’t see these qualities in her.

Birthmarked is a tense and mysterious read that I thoroughly enjoyed in the end. I never really knew what was going to happen right until it was unfolding before my eyes and I think that this was mainly due to the complexity of the characters and the situations that happen thorough the book. There is always so much going on and this made Birthmarked really exciting. It was hard trying to catch my breath sometimes because the story was so non stop!

I am so, so glad that I didn’t give up on this book as it turned out to be really good. It is far from a favourite but I will definitely be following on with Gaia and her adventures.

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