Book Review: Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: November 2011
Pages: 368
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Review
Series: Birthmarked trilogy, Book 2

*Spoilers for Birthmarked very likely*
Set to wandering in a wasteland with few supplies and her infant sister, Gaia's plight seems hopeless. Until she is picked up by an outrider and taken to Sylum, a very different kind of society from the one she left behind. Women are outnumbered two to one and hold all the power too. But in order to see her sister, Gaia must obey the strict society rules and change the way she thinks of the world. Will she be able to give up all she believes and wants or will she find a way to reconcile the two worlds?

Things I Liked:
I was really surprised with the direction this book went.  This is definitely not a sequel that just rehashes the first book, or bridges to another book.  This is almost a stand alone story.  I really enjoyed how it was completely its own book, didn't depend (much) on the first book, and was still interesting.  What made the book for me, though, was Gaia.  She was a flawed, realistic, confused, but still strong person - especially in the way she dealt with the Matrarc.  I kept wanting to read so I could figure her out, since she made both mistakes and hard choices.  She was complex and had a lot of emotions and different motivations warring in her.  Her choices eventually led to the (somewhat predictable) ending, but were still hard to make and interesting in the consequences.  A strong book with a compelling main character.

Things I Didn't Like:
It actually kind of dragged for a while.  The middle felt so slow I often set the book aside.  And I wasn't too impressed with the way Sylum was set up, how they were kept there, and what Gaia found out about them.  It felt only quasi-scientific and just didn't really make sense when I sat and thought about it.  And yes, the love square was rather annoying.  But didn't bug me too much, even if she should have figured out what she wanted way before she finally did.  Definitely its the character development that made this one good to me, not so much the world building or romance.

Obviously, start with Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Reminded me a bit of the society in The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (though, obviously without the zombies) and Wither by Lauren DeStefano

s-factor: ! 
maybe a few

mrg-factor: X 
some kissing, mostly it was birthing scenes that might be a bit graphic

v-factor: -> 
again, it was more for the births, though there is some minor fighting

Overall rating: **** 

What stood out to you in this one?

Looking for more dystopian goodness?  Be sure to stop at Presenting Lenore's Dystopian February celebration.

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