Birthmarked was probably one of the first novels I read after the whole Hunger Games hype. I'm so glad I did!
Goodreads description of Birthmarked: In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
My Amazon review: Birthmarked review
Goodreads description of Prized: 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?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
My Amazon review: Prized Review
Goodreads description of Promised: After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?
Photo credit: © Tomy O’Brien
Author Blurb: Caragh M. O’Brien is the writer of the award-winning Birthmarked trilogy. She has trouble resisting chocolate chips, loves hanging with her family, and sings in a local chorus. Most days, she’s on her brown couch completely lost in one writing world or another.
Author Interview Part I.
1) Having spent a lot of time in the labor and delivery unit during my medical residency, I was fascinated by the back story of Birthmarked. Can you talk a little about how you got this particular idea and your process of brainstorming in general?
I wanted to give Gaia a job that was vitally important, and I knew making her a midwife would put her in dramatic situations. That was central to her character right from the start, though beyond that, I don’t recall how I came up with the idea. My brainstorming happens while I’m writing, when I’m in a scene with a character and living it through her eyes and mind. If I get stuck, sometimes I can take a walk and come up with a fresh idea, but normally I depend on what comes to me while I’m writing.
2) Birthmarked and Prized are two very different books and indeed take place in two very different societies. If you could remark on what writing a second book in a trilogy is like and what kind of pitfalls you were hoping to avoid? (I think you quite deftly sidestepped middle book syndrome.)
Thanks! Writing the second book was super hard, but then, every book is super hard for me. I didn’t originally plan to write a trilogy when I started, so without an over-arching master plan, I looked at where the first book ended and realized I could go with a journey pattern from that point on, with a return in Book 3. I really felt each book had to be its own complete story. Tackling a new society where women were in charge for Prized let me see how Gaia would develop in new ways, and I liked how the second book’s power structure was an inversion of the first book’s, especially in terms of Gaia’s roll. It was a challenge, but that’s what I like about writing.
Tune in tomorrow for Part II of this awesome interview.
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