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Prized (Birthmarked #2)
Caragh M. O’Brien
Young Adult – Dystopian
Roaring Book Press
November 8th, 2011

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?

General Comments

As I read Prized, I experienced a few conflicting emotions. My interest in it waned in and out for the first half of the book, but slowly grew until finally what had merely been an interest to see where the story was going turned into the need to see what happened next. In fact, the ending brought tears to my eyes. Honestly, it was one of the nicest conclusions ever.

Critical Review

Author’s Voice/ POV:

Prized is written from the third person POV and it flows reasonably well. I say reasonably because the pace was constant but my interest in the story fluctuated so much that I kept losing myself and stopped reading and when I went back it was a little hard to pick back up that smooth momentum.


Gaia was a disappointing character for me, at least for the first three quarters of the story. She simply wasn’t the type of girl/ heroine I was expecting. At first, she was interesting and seemingly strong but her will seemed broken so easily and her reasons behind it made no sense to me. However, with the help of others such as Leon she came back into herself and exceeded all my earlier expectations.

Leon was brilliant from the beginning. Brooding, angry, absolutely unwilling to give Gaia a break, he added some much needed tension. Even more importantly, he questioned Gaia’s actions, her motives, her reasoning, and called her out on everything she was doing. He was brilliantly real from the very first moment I saw him and he never faded and for that I loved him.

Storyline/ Plot:

Prized is the story of a girls escape to a safe haven with her newborn sister. It’s traditional in that it follows her adjustment to living in a new place as well as discovering new love interests. However, in most of those stories the heroine isn’t accused of attempted murder the minute she enters the town. She isn’t confined to her room for standing up for what she believes in. And while she may find herself with a mystery to solve it usually isn’t the kind of mystery that means life or death for the entire town. Prized has some really beautiful elements in it and it really forces the reader to think and even to disagree with the choices made in the book. If you were in Gaia’s place, what would you do?


Now, I have an unfortunate problem of choosing books that are part of a series when I don’t have the first book so this problem is mostly my fault. However, it really got to me that I couldn’t understand the setting. At first I could easily imagine some sort of old time world, which in all honesty is what Sylum is like. At the same time Gaia spoke of electricity and running water in other places like the Enclave and it confused me. Other dystopians such as The Hunger Games and The Chrysalids managed to pull off different levels of development across areas but somehow it didn’t work for me here.

Rating Conclusion

While I loved the overall storyline and the ending and Leon, there were still several aspects of the book that simply didn’t work for me. In the end, I’d have to give Prized, 3 out of 5 stars.

Have a great weekend!


Disclaimer: This e-galley was received from the publisher, Roaring Book Press, in exchange for an honest review.