Book Review: Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1) by Caragh M. O'Brien

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.

A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

Release Date: March 30, 2010
Age Group:  YA
Source: Purchased

I've had Birthmarked on my TBR list for a while now, but it wasn't until I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Promised (Birthmarked #3) that I got around to reading Birthmarked.  I was a little leery of accepting a review request for a third-in-the-trilogy book when I hadn't read the first two books, but I was hopeful that my library would have the first two books.  No such luck.  Catching up on the series (buying the first two books) has now cost me about $22.  But, if book two, Prized, is anywhere nearly as good as book one was, I'll be a happy camper.  Because I loved Birthmarked!

I sped through this book, in awe of how good it was and fast the story moved.  It's rare that I like a third-person narrative as much as I liked Birthmarked.  O'Brien continually surprised me with her plot twists, which I loved.  Each new revelation brought another level of intrigue to the story, which made the book so dang interesting.  The characters were so well-developed, even the minor characters.  Each character brought something to the story---there was no extraneous fluff in Birthmarked.  O'Brien manages to create a unique and totally believable world without a lot of draggy world-building at the beginning of the novel.  

I'm so glad that I didn't read any reviews of Birthmarked before I started the book.  I went into it with a clean mental slate, so to speak, and I was able to form my own opinions without being influenced by other reviewer's thoughts.  

I loved Birthmarked, loved everything about it.  It really stands out in the genre, and I cannot wait to start book two, Prized.      

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