Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien
Birthmarked tells the tale of a young apprenticed midwife, Gaia, who lives in the outskirts of the Enclave. Where the residents who live inside the Enclave are rich and well provided for whilst the people who live outside its walls, live in poverty and rations and serve and support them as well as providing a quota of their own children for 'advancement'. Gaia who finds out her parents have been arrested for treason because they hold a secret knowledge of births from outside the enclave which is desperately needed by the authorities who isn't as benign as they appear. Gaia was a fantastic character, determined and stubborn about her quest to find out what happened to her parents and realising that her society isn't as perfect as it appeared and that the heartache and pain for mothers and families giving up a quota of their babies is truly awful. It was an interesting world, and as Gaia explored and discovered answers about the mystery of the intrigue added depth to setting and premise of the book, which I loved because in a few of the YA dystopians I have read, the world-building/settings is shakey. I also enjoyed the hint of romance which had a complex hero and his interactions with Gaia was a highlight in the story. But the main strength of this book was the writing, I was so sucked in. Bithmarked is a multilayered story and beautifully written with lush and descriptive prose, with characters who have real depth. The tone of poignancy and sadness is balanced with strength and determination and hope of the heroine and I cant wait for the followup to see what happens next!