a jane of all reads

Prized

Author:Caragh M. O’Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Date: November 8th 2011
Series: Birthmarked #2
Pages: 368
Genre: YA- Dystopia
Source: Provided by publisher (ALA)

**Hi there. If you haven’t read the first book in this series then this review will spoil it for you and you won’t be able to have any pie. None for you!**

Gaia has fled the Enclave after discovering the horrible truth about the elite society she has been serving her whole life. With her parents gone and the entire Enclave searching for her, Gaia has no choice but to leave the city. She must escape for her own protection and for that of her newborn sister, a baby she delivered with her own hands as she watched their mother die. Guided by the belief that her grandmother is still alive somewhere beyond the reach of the Enclave, Gaia discovers an entire community of people. While a new city could mean a new life and safety for Gaia, she only trades one form of servitude for another. In Sylum, women have nearly ceased to give birth to females and their entire community is in danger of dying out. A female child is a rare and much sought after gift and Gaia’s little sister is immediately taken away from her. Forced once again to serve as a midwife, Gaia struggles to obey her new captives in hopes that she can get her sister back.

So I really liked Birthmarked, the first book in this series. It was different, edgy and I liked Gaia because she wasn’t the run of the mill, gifted beautiful leading lady that everyone fell instantly in love with. But where I found Birthmarked uniquely gritty and disturbing, I struggled with the sequel’s predictability. I really, really felt as if I’d read this story before- only I can’t remember where. So much of what was included seemed irrational, even for a dystopian story where anything can go. I seriously doubt that nearly 2000 men would let a handful of women completely control them, even if they do have bows and arrows and the proverbial “thing that all men want.” I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I mean, a community of mostly men and a blind pregnant woman is in charge? I mean it sounds ideal, I’ll give you that, but not very realistic because even in a fictional future- men are still men.

Gaia is the new girl in town, she’s unattached, possibly fertile and one of the few remaining females, so of course her milkshake is bringin’ all the boys to the yard. I liked that O’Brien could see the silliness in her “love square” and even acknowledged it through Gaia. Still, there were some very sweet, romantic moments, though not with the initial love interest from the first book- he’s still just a flaky as he was before (and now he apparently has like ten different personalities). I’m Team Peter all the way.

     “I have wanted to hold you my whole life,” he said.
     She closed her eyes against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of sunlight in his shirt… “You’ve only known me since yesterday.”
“That’s my whole life.”

I’m still on board for the next book. O’Brien puts a lot of detail into her world and it’s an extremely interesting place to visit. Just please, please do something with Leon as he is so very unlikeable.

*Quote taken from an ARC of Prized and may differ in the finished copy.