Review: Prized

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: PrizedPrized by Caragh M. O'Brien
Series: Birthmarked #2
Published by Roaring Brook Press on November 8, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 356
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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 and the oppressive rules of Matrarc Olivia. Meanwhile, two brothers claim her attention as they attempt to understand the environmental trap that keeps the people of Sylum captive, and suddenly Gaia must contend with the exciting, uncomfortable, and altogether new feeling of being desired.

But when someone from her past shows up, Gaia discovers that survival alone is not enough and that justice requires sacrifice.

As much as I enjoyed Birthmarked, the first book in the series, I liked this one way better. Or, possibly, I just don’t recall the first one well now. Either way, I can tell you that I just ate this up. Were it not for work and social responsibilities, I would not have put it down.

What I love about this series is that O’Brien focuses on topics that are not often tackled in YA novels, like midwifery (which grosses me out, but it’s still awesome that there are details) and genetics. Gaia, too, is pretty fantastic, because of her strength, not physically but mentally. Like me, she is a very stubborn woman and that makes her a force to be reckoned with.

Birthmarked had romance, but much less than can be found here. Now, the fact that Gaia has three men interested in her (two of them brothers) could be seen as a big negative for the book. Certainly, the love triangle (square?) plot can get old. However, I think it has been done fairly well. The reason is that it makes much more sense in the context of the story, since Sylum has so few women.

In the Enclave, only Leon ever expressed a romantic interest in Gaia. Most ignored her because of the burn scar on her face. In Sylum, that seems hardly to matter. I found the whole crazy society in Sylum endlessly fascinating. The women essentially have the pick of the men and have complete control. In fact, if a man so much as touches an unmarried man before they are engaged, he can go to prison, because otherwise the women of Sylum would be in serious danger, given the lack of available lady folk.

Even more interesting is the one exception to the women having all the power, which is the 32 Games, wherein the strongest young men play soccer. The begin with two teams of 16 and play until a goal is scored. The winning team divides up into two teams of 8, and so on until only one man remains. That man has his pick of the unmarried women, the Mlasses, to stay with him in the victor’s cabin for a month. Supposedly, he’s not allowed to get with her, but…come on.

Oh, how much I wish the final book in the trilogy could come out right now!


3 responses to “Review: Prized”

  1. StephanieD says:

    Hi, Christina. “The women essentially have the pick of the men and have complete control.” – Sylum sounds like a place I’d like to visit! I haven’t read the series but the world you’ve described seems very unique. Thanks for the review.

    New follower~

    Stephanie ~Misfit Salon~

  2. Jess Haight says:

    I have not read the first book in this series- but I have it on my list. I have heard such great things about both books in this series. I absolutely love the cover of Prized and it sounds like a book I would love. Thanks for this recommendation! I have to go out and get the first one this week!


  3. S.E. Andres says:

    I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS! I absolutely LOVED the first book. And I eagerly anticipate the third book in Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge’s trilogy.

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