By Caragh M. O'Brien
Published October 11th 2011 by Square Fish
Borrowed Paperback from Local Library
"In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying." ~ Goodreads
Birthmarked is not your average dystopian. Although it has the traits of one (independent, brave female heroine, unjust future society, rebelling etc.) it felt different.
The respect I had for Gaia was unmeasurable. You had to hand it to her... she delivers babies at sixteen years old. Yeah. Plus, she was ostracised her entire life over her appearance (she had a burn scar on her face). This girl was just about ready to do anything for her family. I admired her strong will and resolve. For those who are wondering, yes, there was romance. However, it was a slow build up kind of romance since a great deal of trust had to be built between them. A more realistic version, yeah? The chemistry wasn't a bunch of fireworks for me, but their relationship was endearing. It also was not the centre of the story. I managed to locate another book that puts more emphasis on family. How nice! I found her romantic interest very intriguing. His character was the type of person who fits the phrase "there is more than meets the eye".
Maybe it was just my lack of concentration or I'm not adept in understanding a more complicated plot, but at times I felt lost on the reasoning behind this futuristic-world-that-I-kept-picturing-as-set-in-medieval-times (fail on my part). I loved the idea of "advancement" (it was new and exciting), but the underlying reason for it all was a bit fuzzy. There were so many needless details, I wish they would have been directed instead to the world building. The pace was rather slow because as I said, details were there. It never became overly dull, though, since there was always that suspense as to what was going to come next. It felt like a long, eventful quest. The ending reminded me of The Giver (read it and see why).
I recommend Birthmarked to readers who can tolerate a slower pace, who enjoy an on the side sort of romance, and just want to read a different sort of dystopian.
The solider moved toward the door, and Gaia thought he would open it to say good-bye. When he paused there, she looked up again.
"What happened to your face?" he said.
She felt a familiar kick in her gut, and then a stab of disappointment. Twice in one night,. She had assumed he would be too polite to ask, or that he, with any background knowledge of her family, would already know the story.
"When I was little, my grandmother was making candles and she had a big vat of hot beeswax in the backyard," she said. "I walked into the vat." Usually that ended the conversation. "I don't remember it," she added.
"How old were you?" he asked.
She tilted her face slightly, watching him. "Ten months."
"You were walking at ten months?" he asked.
"Not very well, apparently," she said dryly.