Tuesday 15 November 2011

Review: Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

Prized (Birthmarked, #2)Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

Book 2 in the Birthmarked series

This is the US cover.
Pretty nice huh?

It is probably advisable to read Book 1 Birthmarked before starting this book to understand some of the world-building and back story, but not absolutely essential because this new story has a completely different tone to the first one. Gaia has struck out into the wasteland with her baby sister, looking for the village that her grandmother was rumoured to have escaped to. She has left without Leon and without knowing what has happened to him and if he is still alive. Where the world of the Enclave was very high-tech, the new village that Gaia finds herself in is very rustic and basic, so the whole book has the feel of more of a survival story, rather than a fight against a futuristic controlling society.

The new village is very odd, and run by a group of matriarchs, but there are many political and social problems resulting from the fact that there are very few women in the village. The way they run things is very backwards to what Gaia is used to and she has a lot of trouble adapting and learning a whole new set of rules and what behaviour is socially acceptable. The village itself though I loved. It was so well described and the people and customs felt so real to me, it was like I was there. I really liked the two brothers who vie for Gaia's attention, and they were both really sweet to her, trying to do little things to make her happy like planting flowers in her garden, and then drawing straws to see who would walk her home. Where in her old town Gaia had resigned herself to a life of being the local midwife, and thought she would always single because of her scarred face, in Sylum she finds men are fighting for her attention- so it's not so much a love triangle, as a love square!

Little Gaia is the hero in this story again, as she experiments, questions, and pieces together the snippets of rumours that she hears about varying success rates of leaving the village. Her brain is constantly trying to work out the dual mysteries of the village- why people drop dead when they try to leave, and why the village is mostly populated by men- and is again solving puzzles and riddles to come up with the answers. She manages to put together all the little clues, and with her outsider's perspective and analytical brain comes up with the answers that had eluded the other villagers.

Gaia is such a steadfast and spunky character, and will always do what she thinks is morally right even if she ends up being punished for it. She has the admiration of two local brothers, and through her constant questioning and making a stand against any percieved injustice, she also earns the respect of a large portion of the village.

I love these books and definitely recommend this series to fans of a good dystopian novel. Fantastic world-building, characters that stay with you, and a clever and complex story that is intense and emotional, with a romance story that is sweet and real.

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the advance e-copy.

Rest of the series:
Book 1 Birthmarked. Read my review of it here

Book 3 is titled Promised and is due for release late 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I love this series and I can't wait to read the third book! It needs to hurry up and come out LOL.

    Great review! =)


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