Monday, August 27, 2012


Book Review

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien.

Here is another young adult offering.

And another young adult book my daughter has read recently. And she liked it.

Actually it is also a young adult book an adult friend read. And she liked it.

That's two rounds of endorsements for this book.

Time to give it a try.

And then I found out that this is the first of a trilogy. Trilogies can be good. If the first one is good, then the others have a chance.

Better get started.


This is another post-apocolyptic science fiction novel, based somewhere close to the formerly-great Lake Superior.

I should have been warned this was post-apocolyptic. My patience with young adult, post-apocolyptic scifi is wearing thin. Just like my patience at typing that word.

Our heroine, Gaia, is a teenage midwife on a mission to help her parents, who have been arrested by the authorities. Her mother is also a midwife and it is her records that the authorities want and need.

The need for those records involves the laws of the authorities, the subsequent results of those laws, and a clever use of an inherited medical condition. The puzzle for unraveling the records is also clever. Unfortunately, the cleverness ends there.

Depth? Is there any here? I thought there was going to be more to the records puzzle, but it is quickly solved and then dropped. I was so hoping to see that puzzle extended or extrapolated or further woven throughout the rest of the story. There was no such extension or extrapolation. This disappointed me, because then it was just back to more action.

Our author gives us action, action, and more action, which seems to be par for the course for the few young adult offerings that I have read. Action certainly helps move the plot along, but motivation for the action is brief, albeit well-justified. The setting could be expanded and extended beyond a few carefully chosen, but over-used, words.

The plot is reasonably well-formed, but the pacing is off. Time jumps and lurches throughout this story. The words tell us, usually indirectly, that some amount of time has passed, but the pacing of the prose doesn't give us any clues or hints or guidance. We have to be told some amount of time has passed.

Action to the end. An open-ended end. An open-ended end that screamed that there would be another book.

And after finishing reading, I discovered that there is another book. Potentially two more books.

So, really, the book doesn't end. It presumably just continues in the next book.

But I haven't read that one yet.

I guess it just wasn't much of an ending. More of an interlude, until you can go out and get the second book.

Well, I will wait a bit before I get the second book.

I need a break from young adult, post-apocolyptic scifi, not a continuation.

Was it interesting? Yes.

Was it action-packed? Yes.

Was it well-formed? Yes.

Was it well-written? Reasonably.

Was it good? Yes, I think.

Was it great? No.

You decide for yourself.

And I might recommend hurrying up about it, before movies are made of the trilogy.

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