Sunday, June 5, 2016

{Book Review} Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien
Published: November 8, 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
Series: Birthmarked #2
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
Pages: 356

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives, only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code and the oppressive rules of Matrarc Olivia. Meanwhile, two brothers claim her attention as they attempt to understand the environmental trap that keeps the people of Sylum captive, and suddenly Gaia must contend with the exciting, uncomfortable, and altogether new feeling of being desired.

But when someone from her past shows up, Gaia discovers that survival alone is not enough and that justice requires sacrifice.

Whoa!  This book felt totally different from the first one.  If it was not for a few threads that tied the first and second book together, I would have thought this was book one in a new series.  I do have to say that although I did find this book okay, I enjoyed the first book a lot more.    

O’Brien pretty much starts from scratch when Gaia is found and taken to the city of Sylum.  I had mixed feelings on this because it was refreshing being introduced to new ideas and customs of their society, but it felt so unattached from book one.  Readers were no longer facing the same problems as in book one, in fact, the plot of this book is almost completely its own entity.  I just found this to be a little strange for a second book. 

One think that I really enjoyed in this book was the introduction of some new and interesting characters.  I think that O’Brien did a better job at character developing in this book than she did in the second.  I felt more attached to the side characters in this book, where as I had no attachment to any of the secondary characters in book one.  I still really liked Gaia, but strangely not as much as in the first book.  I found it weird that Gaia scar was such a central part of the first book and was hardly mentioned in the second.  I thought that Gaia would have some groundbreaking moment where he scar would not define her anymore, but somehow it was just forgotten.  I really started to enjoy Leon in this book!  We got to see a different side of him since he left the Enclave and I really enjoyed it.

I had to say that the romance in this book was very different than the first.  Whereas book one focuses on a budding romance between Gaia and Leon, this one now introduces a love square.  That’s right…a SQUARE!  I still don’t know how I feel about this.  I did find myself torn rooting between two of the love interests, where as the third I felt never even had a chance.  But the whole time reading this book, I felt like it was obvious who she was going to choose.

I would say that this book does talk about some mature subjects, one being abortion.  It was made clear where O’Brien stands on this subject which might hinder individuals experiences when reading this.  I wish that there would have been a more grey area like there is in real life rather than have it be black & white.

Overall, I did really like this book, but was confused because of the completely different direction that O’Brien took this book.  I will be completing this series and am interested if O’Brien will be able to blend these two books together to make a successful ending to this trilogy.


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