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Reading is my addiction... I read paranormal romance, urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, young adult, romance and historical romance. I am part of the blogging team over at Badass Book Reviews: http://badassbookreviews.com 

Birthmarked (Birthmarked Trilogy)

Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien Caragh O’Brien’s book Birthmarked tells the story of a world where the state is able to take infants away from their mothers by quota. Set approximately 300 years into the future, the world is a bleak place. Resources have dwindled, lakes have dried up and become “unlakes,” and a portion of the population has difficulty conceiving. The Enclave is a walled city where its citizens enjoy many of the better things in life – food, running water, motion sensing lights, and an education. The Enclave is ruled by the Protectorat, a kind of dictator. Outside the Enclave, people live in Sectors. They go to the Tvaltar and watch films about life inside the Enclave. The population of the Sectors are obligated by law to advance the first three babies born each month to the Enclave. It is both an honor and a duty to do so. These babies are then raised by adoptive parents in the Enclave. Birthmarked focuses on Gaia Stone, a 16 year old girl and midwife. As the story begins, Gaia attends her first solo birth. She removes the infant and advances it to the authorities at the Enclave. Gaia is proud to be doing her civic duty. She returns home, eager to share her experiences with her parents but they have been arrested. Gaia is a very determined young lady. She begins a quest to find her parents and reunite her family. She manages to sneak into the Enclave. She watches the execution of a young couple and draws attention to herself when she rescues the woman’s unborn child. Gaia is held by the authorities and forced to cooperate as they threaten her family and friends. Gaia’s parents had been marking the advanced children with small freckle tattoos. They had also kept a list of names of all of the parents and birthdates of the advanced children. The list was hidden and in code.Throughout the book, Gaia’s memories of her childhood are told in flashback. Gaia reaches into her memories to see if she can figure out her father’s code. As a mother, I found this book difficult to read. What kind of society creates a quota for newborns and wrenches them away from their mothers’ arms minutes after their birth? What kind of mother would not move heaven and earth to get her child back? What made this population so complacent? This book managed to make my momma bear impulses come out. The idea of taking newborns away from their mothers is reprehensible to me. I could not put this book down. I find dystopian worlds fascinating, but disturbing at the same time. Here was a world where babies are removed from their birth mothers and given to adoptive parents but no official documentation of the birth parents was kept. As a result, a person could marry a sibling or a cousin. Genetic defects were on the increase. People can be accused of genetic crimes. As advanced as the Enclave was, the Protectorat did not believe in clinics or hospitals because they catered to the weak and used up resources. Doctors are kept in prisons because they cater to the weak. I really liked Gaia’s character. It is refreshing to see a young adult character who is so well balanced. At first, she is so idealistic and proud of her work. As the book progresses, Gaia’s character realizes that the people outside the Enclave are basically reproductive slaves. She questions authority and seems to get away with it. Gaia has a strong sense of justice. Gaia is a loyal daughter, putting her family’s welfare ahead of her own. I think that Gaia’s character inspired many of the characters in the book to rally around her. I know I was cheering her on. Check out my review on Badass Book Reviews