Monday, October 4, 2010

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien - Book Review #92

Monday, October 4, 2010
by Caragh M. O'Brien

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

So I guess there is nothing else left that I “have to do” instead of writing this review. No more excuses. I have to write it now. So here it goes:

I was ready to like this book. I really was. I loved the synopsis. It sounded intriguing and appealing. I loved the cover. In my opinion it showed the atmosphere that synopsis promised to us. So everything was looking greatly with a tiny exception to which I didn’t pay any attention at that moment: I added this book sometime ago to my to-read list and until recently I was more than sure that it still wasn’t released, because I haven’t heard anything about this book. So imagine my surprise when I found out that it was released and not just released but in March 2010. I was pleasantly surprised (I can read this book now!), but as I already said I didn’t pay any attention to this. Maybe I should have…

And so I started reading, impatiently awaiting the great story I was expecting. Unfortunately, it never came. I don’t really know where I should start about what I didn’t like in this book. Should I start from flat, unbelievable, unreal, unlikable characters? Or should I start from one of the weakest plots I could ever remember, full of repetitions, unnecessary explanations that was moving with the speed of a snail? (At least this book had a plot! I probably should mention this as an advantage over some of the YA novels that completely lacking it.) Or maybe I should start from the atmosphere this book failed to create – dystopian world? (There wasn’t an evil, totalitarian government, which I consider one of the main component for the dystopia. Enclave read like small hooligans, not like The Big Brother that is watching you.)

It was a real torture for me to read this book. I was bored out of my mind and even my own sarcasm about one or another scene in this book didn’t make the process of reading it at least bearable. I only finished it to be dead sure that I didn’t miss anything, because I had quite high hopes for this one.

I’m not going to say anything else about Birthmarked, I spent too much time reading it already and I just can’t bear to spent more time to write full, logical, reasonable review with examples from the text. The only thing I’m going to say – it was a great idea and very poor execution.


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