Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)

O’Brien, C.M. (2010). Birthmarked. New York: Roaring Book Press. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Gaia is a fully trained midwife, taught by her mother, who has just completed her first solo delivery. She returns home eager to tell her parents of the successful delivery only to discover that they’ve been arrested and are being held in the Enclave for questioning. Now Gaia has got to figure out how to rescue her parents without arising the suspicions of the Protectorate, and everyone’s life is on the line.

Plot Summary

In a distant dystopian future the classes are separated into two categories, those who live in the Enclave and those who live without. The people have lived this way since the collapse of civilization and for a long time it worked, that is until inbreeding weakened the blood lines of those living within the Enclave. Now the first three babies born in every district on the outside is advanced into the Enclave where the will be raised with all the privileges befitting those within: most importantly enough food to eat, water to drink and a warm, dry place to sleep every night.

Gaia’s family lives outside the enclave where her mother works as a midwife and her father works as a tailor. A facial disfigurement has kept Gaia safe with her parents her whole life and now she is fully trained as a midwife, able to perform deliveries without the guidance of her mother. After Gaia advances her first baby to the Enclave, she returns back to her home ready to report the events of the evening, only to be warned by her mother’s assistant that her parents have been arrested, the assistant gives Gaia a coded message from her mother and urges her to find her long lost grandmother, rumored to have made way for a mysterious wood no one is entirely sure actually exists.

Instead Gaia enlists the help of family friends and sneaks into the Enclave, hoping to break her parents out of jail. Now Gaia has got to figure out how to rescue her parents before it’s too late, and when it becomes clear that will be impossible she has to decide who is trust worthy and who is working against her before it’s too late.

Critical Evaluation

This book was solidly mediocre. Indeed it was so mediocre that I haven’t got a whole lot of opinion on it at all. It takes place 300 years in the future, and the world O’Brien has created is bleak and without a great deal of hope. The most interesting portions of the book, in my opinion, were the birth scenes, which were described vividly and with surprising accuracy for a book for intended for teen readers.

Author Information


YA Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic

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