Novel, YA (Series: Birthmarked)
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe.
Fascinating. Another book which I finished feeling like I had too much adrenaline.
Gaia is another great heroine, fighting a lifetime of indoctrination without anything supernatural about her. Her greatest strength is instead very feminine-midwifery. It’s a nice change of pace to read a compelling heroine who isn’t physically intimidating or forced to fight. I mean, she doesn’t even have a familiar! (Of course she has a love interest, we’re not totally off the beaten path of YA!)
O’Brien skillfully created ambiguity about the enclave and many of the characters which meant the plot was constantly moving at a quick clip with plots hiding behind every corner. And she does this with a third person narrative! There are sinister shadows, self-sacrifice, and fully developed characters that reveal more of themselves with prolonged contact. You know, just like real people do. There’s no real world building, you’re plunged straight into the idea that there is an enclave that Gaia gives babies to (other women’s, not her own). I even spent time wondering whether the enclave was entirely corrupt or whether it was just that Gaia was hanging out in its most corrupt corridors which is a delicious bit of moral exploration.