Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birthmarked and Tortured by Caragh O'Brien

For those that live next to Unlake Superior, there are those that must struggle to survive and those that live in the walled in Enclave that take care of them. The chosen few that live in the Enclave live in luxury and help the poverty stricken masses that live outside their walls. Of course this comes with a price, every month the midwives outside the wall must 'advance' three babies to the Enclave. The babies' families must trust that their children will grow up with the best and be provided for and that this process is for the good of everyone involved.

Gaia Stone is sixteen and just advanced her first baby that she delivered by herself, her pride at achieving this by herself is overshadowed by the mother's distress at advancing her baby. She is further shaken when she discovers that her parents have been taken for questioning by the Enclave and is not told if they will return. In her fight to try and free her parents, Gaia uncovers the injustice and weakness in the Enclave and their system. With the help of a young mysterious man named Leon, Gaia must decide how far she will go to reconnect with her parents.

When I read the short summaries provided by Good reads or Amazon, I have to admit that I wasn't overly excited about the premise. It sounded like a rather weak plot line with overly done themes. Sweet Moses was I wrong! I completely underestimated how intriguing the characters would be, the depth of the society that Caragh O'Brien had created, and the emotions that the story could evoke. The simplicity worked beautifully, it really made the entire story quite clean and stark. Overall really nice.

P.S. Spoilers ahead
Here's my one quibble: the romance aspect. I get why she put it in, it does add to the character growth and it is a series so there's time to deepen the relationship, but I'm unfortunately confused as to why Leon and Gaia are falling in love. I mean, yes Leon is intrigued with Gaia's indomitable spirit and Gaia is attracted to Leon's face and kindness, but I'm not sure if that is the greatest platform for the romance that will supposedly carry through the series. I get that this is just the first book, but I thought that there should be a greater emotional connection if Leon is going to sacrifice himself for Gaia and her sister. Just saying.

Tortured is a novelette that takes place between Birthmarked and Prized. It's essentially telling Leon's backstory and what motivates him to go after Gaia into the Wilds. Again, nice clean story that really gives me not a lot of answers as to why Leon is so attracted to Gaia.

I've really enjoyed this series so far, I've got Prized on my bookshelf to read over February break. Except for my confusion about the romance, I really enjoyed these books. So do it. Read them, you know you want to.

Random side-note, I really like the fact that Caragh O'Brien wraps up each character's storyline. You don't finish reading and wonder what happened to a secondary character, they're all taken care of.

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