16 March 2013

Book Review: Tortured and Prized

"Tortured" is a bridge story between Birthmarked and Prized, the second book in the Birthmarked series by Caragh O'Brien. When we last left Gaia Stone, she was embarking on a journey to the Dead Forest in the hope of starting a new life for herself and her baby sister, a journey only possible because Leon sacrificed himself so she could escape the Enclave. "Tortured" is Leon's story after Gaia's escape. Extremely short, "Tortured" doesn't really add anything to the series; nothing really happens here that you don't find out about in Prized. But it's free - or at least it was - so why not, right?

Prized is where the action actually continues as Gaia finds the community she was seeking. And quite the community it is. What I loved about Birthmarked, I also loved about Prized. O'Brien does a remarkable job with world-building. The Enclave and Sylum are distinct cultures, each given the requisite detail and backstory to make them real to the reader. In Sylum, the women run the show. Utterly. Men vastly outnumber the women, so women are "prized", special commodities if you will, and as such they are in charge - to the point where men are not even allowed to vote. The gender dynamics of this town fascinated me, and I found my geeky side hoping someone writes an analysis of this community focusing on gender.

As to the romance...If you read my review of Birthmarked, you know I was thrilled that there wasn't a love triangle. So what happens in Prized? You were going to say love triangle, weren't you? But no. It's a love square people. Gaia, Leon, Will, and Peter. This makes sense considering the male-female ratio in Sylum. And I must admit, that while I have yet to find a love triangle - or square - I actually believe and enjoy, this comes closest. Gaia's emotions felt real to me; she's not using one man to get at or over another; she's not confusing friendship with romantic love; and she's not playing with any of them. Good for her.

Wondering when I'm going to talk about plot here? Well honestly, what happened didn't really stick with me as much as the community and the love square. Basically the plot revolves around Gaia discovering the culture, figuring out the oddities, solving the mystery of the lack of female babies, and clashing, yet again, with the dictatorial leader of an inequal society. The story kept me hooked just like Birthmarked did, and I can't wait to read the final book, Promised.


  1. Yes, love square! I used that same phrase! LOLOL For the third book I am anticipating we get a female love interest added to the mix - love pentagon?

    1. There should definitely be a love pentagon!

  2. I really loved this whole series - it engaged me in a way that YA series haven't done in a long time.

  3. I didn't like Birthmarked so I have no desire to continue on with the series but I love the idea of a love square.


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