Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien
In a future time with the Earth is baked dry by climate change and a blasting hot sun, sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone lives with her parents outside the walled and luxurious Enclave. They live a fairly meager existence, but Gaia’s mother is teaching her to follow in her footsteps as a midwife. The hardest part of the job is giving the first three newborns each month to the Enclave, but this has been the quota ever since Gaia can remember. When the book opens, she delivers her first baby alone, takes it to the nurse at the wall of the Enclave, and returns home to find that both her parents have been arrested and imprisoned inside the Enclave. When no one can give her much information about the status of her mother and father, Gaia become determined to sneak into the walled city and rescue them.
This is a typical dystopian novel in many ways, but has some interested twists that will engage readers. Instead of being governed by the miliatary or some sort of totalitarian government, the Enclave is ruled by a monarchy. The subject of genetic engineering is explored, encouraging readers to think about where they might stand on such issues. Although sometimes predictable, I found this book compelling, and especially liked the heroine’s strong spirit and determination. I would recommend this book to fans of The Giver, Hunger Games, and other dystopian novels.