Series: Birthmarked #1
Author: Caragh O'Brien
Review: Gaia Stone is a 16-year old mid-wife. When she delivers her first baby and 'advances' it to the Enclave, she doesn't question what she is doing. This is her duty and what she's been taught is right. But when Gaia's parents are arrested and held captive inside the Enclave, Gaia must question what she's been taught and risk herself to save her family.
I love dystopian worlds and was really excited to read this. Set 300 years in the future in the mid-west, the world has run out of oil but some people have been able to find an alternative energy source. They lived in a walled city called the Enclave. They are for the most part considered wealthy and have technology advantages. People live outside of the wall in settlements and are poor and don't even have running water. The first three babies born to every mid-wife are 'advanced' (given up for adoption essentially) to families in the Enclave. When the children reach age 13, they have the choice to stay in the Enclave or return to their families-not surprisingly everyone chooses to stay in the Enclave. Gaia's two older brothers were advanced but she was not, largely due to a burn mark down the side of her face that happened when she was a baby (the Enclave doesn't accept disfigured children). The Enclave has not been keeping birth records of the babies from the outside, and now they have an inbreeding problem as well as a high rate of hemophilia. Gaia happens to have some critical information that Enclave wants. Can she free her parents and keep the information secret?
Gaia was 16 but read like a 12 year old. She was extremely naive and childish. After her parents are kidnapped, she decides she needs to go to the city to save them. That is literally the extent of her plan. No joke. I would expect a little more preparation. She meets a man in her settlement for the first time (of course she trusts him implicitly) and he tells her he can get her into the city. She accepts and quickly finds herself in the city. A lot of things just seem to happen pretty easy for Gaia throughout the book and a lot of people are willing to help her. I couldn't really figure out why all these people were helping her, as her main goal was to rescue her parents, not to help the greater good in any capacity. When she finally is captured, she gives up the information (the same information her mother told her to destroy and she herself was willing to go to jail for), very easily. I thought she would have tried to hide the item in question a little better and put up more resistance. There was also a love story element that should be explored more in the following books. I felt bad for Leon, after everything he did to help Gaia she continued to question his motives.
Overall-interesting world but a flat and boring main character. The 'bad' guys didn't seem that evil but there is a lot of potential for the next two books. I'm undecided if I'll read them.