by Caragh M. O'Brien
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
I'm having a very hard time deciding whether or not this book is dystopian. It certainly has the foundations of it: a misguided government, the Wall (because every dystopian has some to have some inanimate object capitalized), etc.
I had a smooth start with Birthmarked. The opening scene shoved me straight into the action, and I got a glimpse at how screwed up the world actually was. Gaia was mildly likeable; I certainly didn't have a problem with her. The way O'Brien crafted the society was interesting, but I still have a few questions about it. I felt however, as I got rolling in the book, that it began to drag. Birthmarked was just a bit too long for my taste. I found that I didn't appreciate some scenes, and there were some that I just skipped over because I couldn't find any value to them.
The slowness wasn't the only flaw of the novel. Gaia was likeable at first when she kept her mouth shut and obeyed the rules, but she changed almost instantly, transformed from a normal girl with a zipper on her lips to a girl emerging from the shadows with the zipper torn off and bravery only rivaled by the Lion, post-Oz of course. I found over the course of the rest of the novel that Gaia just wasn't likeable anymore because her transformation from outspoken to outbursting was just too fast; there wasn't any development to her character. It just happened, and that infuriated me.
You all know that it's hard to read a book when you don't give a rat's ass about any of the characters. Sadly, that was the case with Birthmarked, at least after the beginning. I couldn't love it anymore after the characters left me in the dust. Birthmarked is a dystopian society plagued with midwife Gaia Stone who quickly learns that you can't get anywhere without opening your mouth. If only she knew of a thing called "moderation" . . .