Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

One of the best things about science fiction is the reader gets to enter into a alternative world created just for them.  You know you have left your current state of mind when you start adapting words or phrases into your everyday vocabulary or dreaming of a time and place you can visit only while lost in a good book.  The best stories transport you and let you forget your current reality for awhile. 

Birthmarked transported me to a place called Wharfton located outside of the walled fortress called the Enclave.  The year is around A.D. 2400 and water is scarce.  Un-lake Superior is near and dried up like the wombs of many of the infertile women within the Enclave.  On the outside of the wall, lives Gaia Stone, a sixteen year old midwife whose duty is to advance the first 3 babies of the month to be adopted by the privileged families within The Enclave. 

Gaia's life begins to unravel when her parents are arrested by the very community they serve.  Gaia learns they are sentenced to death and bravely sneaks inside the wall to try and save them.  Gaia witnesses an execution of a pregnant mother and does the only thing she can, she saves the baby.  Soon Gaia is arrested but she is not your typical girl, she has a scar on her face.  The scar at once marks Gaia as an outsider as well as a fugitive but Gaia is strong, resourceful, hopeful and a smart young woman.  What ensues is a roller coaster adventure story full of twists and turns and an amazing young heroine who stands up for her parents and what she believes in.

Birthmarked touches on economic and environmental issues as well as problems of infertility and hemophilia that result from a society that closes its doors.  The wall of the Enclave reminds me of the type of walls we self-impose on ourselves as well as the walls who purpose is to keep people in their place, like the Berlin Wall.  Birthmarked is reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Masister and Mabrother, you have provided a great service to The Enclave.  We are now raising the quota to five babies a month.

I wonder, is it time to rebel? 
Looking forward to the second book in the series PRIZED.

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