Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Narrator: Carla Mercer-Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Action-Adventure, Dystopian, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Awards: Junior Library Guild Selection, YALSA Best Fiction for YA Nom.
SUMMARY: Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?
There are parts of this book that are memorable and wonderful.
Like Birthmarked, Prized discusses several difficult and important subjects, including abortion, gender equality, government control, etc.
The world building for Sylum is fascinating and scary and real. I could genuinely feel the pretense of safety and underlying danger in this society, and it is distinct from the openly overbearing Enclave from the first book.
Seriously, a love square?
Part of what I admire most in the first book is Gaia's unyielding sense of justice and her level-headed determination to fight for what is right. Birthmarked is not a dystopian romance with a dash of ethics on top -- it is rooted in eliminating the injustice of the existing system, in changing the world for the better.
Sadly, it feels almost reversed in this sequel. Gaia changes too much and too quickly in this book, but maybe that's just how a girl her age who has been so physically suppressed her whole life, and is now discovering the possibility of love would act -- maybe she would fall for 3 different guys. I was just sad to see it happen.
Gaia does regain a little more of herself near the middle and end of this book, however, and I am so glad for that.
Overall, I think this is a good series for young adults as it raises questions applicable to our own society and allows the reader to see both sides to several arguments.
Sexuality: Mild-Moderate (kissing, some sensuality/suggested images)
Violence: Moderate (intense, disturbing images of death, birth, government violence and rebellion, weapons)
This review also appears on Goodreads and brailynnecorr.com.