Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Bought from B&N
Published March 30, 2010

IN THE ENCLAVE, YOUR SCARS SET YOU APART, and the newly born will change the future.
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.

As soon as I read the summary for Birthmarked I knew I totally wanted to read this book! I mean how interesting is it that a teenage girl works as a midwife and is required to take the first three babies delivered every month to the Enclave, a.k.a. this messed up controlling government/ "perfect" society enclosed in this huge wall. I honestly can't remember reading a dystopian that I didn't fully love so when I finished this book and was left a little disappointed I was fairly surprised.

The story starts off with Gaia delivering her first ever baby on her own and having to advance the newborn to the Enclave (the 'perfect' people inside the wall). Once she returns home she discovers that her parents had been taken inside the wall for questioning. Gaia's mother left her a package that was wrapped in a ribbon with a code stitched on it, throughout the book Gaia must decipher what the code is to save her parents.

The main character, Gaia, was badly burned when she was a young child that left her with a very noticeable scar on the side of her face. She talked about her scar very frequently throughout the story, to the point where I was getting a tad tired of hearing about it. I wish I could have watched Gaia overcome her scarred face and learn to accept the person she is on the inside, but maybe that will happen in book two. I also had some issues with how Gaia reacted to some of the major events that were happening in her life, like after her parents were taken away she continued to deliver babies and live normally.

My favorite character wasn't really even technically present in the book. I really enjoyed hearing Gaia tell stories about her father and times she spent with him while she was growing up. I adored that her father loved Gaia's mother with everything that he was and he would risk anything to keep his family safe.

Throughout the story I thought there was quite a lot of filler and found myself wishing that it would just get to the point in places. One of my favorite parts of a book is that it takes me to a completely different world and with Birthmarked I didn't feel that. I was also left fairly confused when the mysterious code was figured out, I thought it was pretty crazy. I mean you had to do a lot in order to discover what was there and even after I was told how to see it, I still had trouble.

I had some issues with the love interest in this book, well not so much him, but just Gaia and his relationship. I didn't feel a connection between the two and thought it was more of a convenient pairing than both of them actually liking each other. I'll be curious to see where the relationship goes in the sequel.

I really wasn't fond of the ending. It reminded me a heck of a lot of another book that I read and absolutely adored so I was fairly unimpressed with it. However, it did leave me wanting to find out what happened to the characters in the next installment.

Awesome Quote:
Even the worst feeling, with time and familiarity, became tolerable. 

Characters: 3/5
Creativity: 4/5
Voice: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Impact: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Even though Birthmarked wasn't everything that I was hoping for, it was still a great story that left me turning pages and curious to see what happens in the next book. The idea of a society split by a wall is intriguing and entertaining to read about. The people on the outside lived in less than ideal living conditions and were required to give up some of their children while the Enclave thrived in most areas. Another thing that kept me reading was the mystery of the code her mother left Gaia with and also another part in the story that was definitely a twist that will get me to read the next book. Birthmarked was a good start to a new series and I'll most likely be checking out the sequel sometime soon.


  1. I'm really curious if i'll like this book a lot or just.. yeah, it was okay.
    Great review!! ^^

  2. Interesting review - I don't think I've come across a Dystopia that I haven't really enjoyed so far so kind of tempted to stay away from this one if you're feeling torn about it!

  3. Ohh too bad you didn't love this one Katie .. :( !!I'm hoping you'll read book 2 which according to me is better .. Thanks for the great review !!

  4. You know I love Birthmarked (and Prized!), but even though you didn't feel the same way it was kind of fun to read a more "negative" review from you :) You made me think back to different parts of the story I'd forgotten about, and look at it in a slightly different way. Thanks for making me think :)

  5. I have a question u think u can answer it its abt birthmarked??????/