Author: Caragh M. O’Brien
Published: 8th November 2011
By: Macmillan Children’s Group Publishing
First line: She grabbed the hilt of her knife and scrambled backward into the darkness, holding the baby close in her other arm.
Last line: Very.
Fave Line: It seemed all the stars that had been missing from the sky for the last two weeks had delicately come down to delicately gleam in the meadow.
Prized is the fantastic sequel to Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien. I’ve developed a soft spot for the dystopian genre so was thrilled to be able to get hold of Prized for review having enjoyed its predecessor so much. I was not disappointed.
We begin this story where we left off in Birthmarked. Having managed to escape the confines of the enclave with her newborn sister Maya, Gaia is found struggling to survive in the wilderness by Chardo Will. Her sister at death’s door she is taken to Sylum a matriarchal community which is an unequal as the Enclave, the only difference being that the underdogs i.e. women are now revered. With the numbers of females in the community dwindling, women are considered to be a prize rather than being equal in their chosen partnership. Social rules have taken a backward step to say the least. Any attempt to touch or become involved with a female before marriage is punishable and once married, women are required to bear ten children in order to help boost dwindling numbers, the ultimate goal being to produce more females.
As Gaia returns to midwifery she finds herself trying to reconcile her own beliefs with those that are imposed on her in the society that she now resides and it is the disparity between the two which takes her on a journey that not only tests her own principles but threatens to undermine the philosophy of her new home and it’s hierarchy.
I really enjoyed reading this book from start to finish. It flowed on from Birthmarked flawlessly and whilst Gaia may appear to be weaker at times it’s easy to see the bigger picture and to understand the reasons for the choices she makes, particularly at the beginning. By the end of the book I think she is stronger than she has ever been and it was great to see a female character that will go to such lengths to stand up for what she believes in. I love how her perception of herself changes as a result of the new social order that she becomes a part of. I also like the way that the book encourages the reader to think about freedom of choice. The detail that O’Brien puts into the characters and the backdrop is flawless making everything so easy to envisage and if anything is going to beat a love triangle then I guess it would have to be a love square – especially when there are brothers involved!
There are several storylines (I shall remain spoiler free!) which weave together seamlessly through this story and the dramatic conclusion at the end paves the way very nicely for the next book in the series. I see big journeys and major battles ahead for the main characters! There are also some characters which didn’t appear in this story and so I do have some questions that remain unanswered. I hope I get to read more about them in the next instalment...
Rating: 4 out of 5. This is fantastic sequel. If you enjoyed Birthmarked then you will love Prized. I can’t wait for book three!!