Prized (Birthmarked Trilogy Series #2)

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Overview

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 ...

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Prized (Birthmarked Trilogy Series #2)

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Overview

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?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Although this is undeniably a dystopia, it is filled with romance and beauty…”—School Library Journal

“…this series practically begs to be a book club selection.” —VOYA

 

“Fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling books should know about O’Brien’s writing: these are smart, tough romances.” —Booklist

 

"Much like Birthmarked, Caragh again creates a vivid dystopian world that was so easy to imagine as the story goes on." - Mundie Moms blog

 

"Prized was an intriguing read that I didn't want to put down. Most of the characters are absolutely lovely, and the plot is one to get you hooked! I am eagerly anticipating the last book in the trilogy, I am very curious to see where Caragh M O'Brien will take readers after the unpredictable twist Prized ends with. " - The Book Cellar

 

"Readers who loved Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien will definitely not want to miss out on its sequel Prized, nor will fans of Shift by Charlotte Agell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and Dark Parties by Sara Grant." - The Book Muncher 

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Picking up almost immediately where the first volume left off, Gaia and her baby sister are on the verge of death in the wastelands when they are rescued by a strange man and taken to Sylum, a society run exclusively by women. Genetic mutations throughout the years have caused there to be a lack of female births, the men outnumbering the women nine to one, yet because women can give birth they are held in higher esteem. Only men with viable sperm are allowed to marry and have a small say in the governing and decision making. There is also an acclimation sickness that overcomes all newcomers and kills anyone who tries to leave helping to bring the society to the brink of extinction. Gaia is as questioning and heroic as ever. When her sister (a valuable girl baby) is taken from her to be raised by someone else and her own freedom stripped when the town realizes she is a midwife and has some medical knowledge, she revolts. As everyone she loves is systematically threatened however, she is temporarily kowtowed but eventually rises to her old defiant self, ready to fight for the freedoms and injustices of others. A love quadrangle amps up the drama of an already interesting story that dystopian lovers will devour. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
At the close of Birthmarked (Roaring Brook, 2010/VOYA April 2010), orphaned teen midwife Gaia Stone struck out for the Dead Forest with nothing but the clothes on her back and her newborn sister, Maya. When a lone desert rider finds the weak Gaia and the starving infant, Gaia agrees to accompany him to his village, Sylum. Instead of a refuge, Gaia finds a matrilineal, pronatalist society ruled by a cunning female dictator. The strong-willed women clash immediately, and Gaia becomes a captive in a very different kind of prison, risking her self-respect and jeopardizing baby Maya. Readers who are new to the Birthmarked series may have difficulty catching up with events from the first novel. The author throws in tiny hints of Gaia and Leon's backstory but devotes most of the text to constructing the etiquette and governance of dystopian Sylum, as well as revisiting themes (reproductive freedom) from book one. Plenty of action and illicit romance help the plot move along quickly. Matrarc, Gaia's adversary, is the most fun and unexpectedly sinister pregnant character since Roald Dahl gave us Lamb to the Slaughter. There is plenty of material to spark anyone's interest in further reading on bioethics, genetics, and even animal behavior, specifically female mate selection. Reminiscent of James's Children of Men (Knopf, 1993) and Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale (McClelland, 1985/VOYA December 1986), this series practically begs to be a book club selection. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—O'Brien's follow-up to Birthmarked (Roaring Brook, 2010) begins with Gaia Stone at a lonely oasis in the wasteland, far from the Enclave she escaped. She and her infant sister, Maya, are rescued by Peter, a young man from a settlement called Sylum, which, in its own way, is as strange and harsh a place as the Enclave. Women are only one tenth of the population but they rule over the men, many of whom are sterile. Any physical contact between an unmarried man and a woman is considered attempted rape, and the man can be confined to the stocks, imprisoned, or exiled. The last means death, because everyone who leaves Sylum for more than a few days becomes fatally ill. Gaia is immediately considered to be guilty of placing her sister in harm's way and Maya is taken from her. As a woman and the community's only midwife, though, she is also highly valued. To complicate matters further, Leon has followed her from the Enclave. Gaia must sort through her feelings for him as well as those for Peter and his sensitive brother, Will. Cryptic messages left by her grandmother give both a warning and a glimmer of hope. In all, O'Brien has done a marvelous job of building a society with intricate human and environmental elements. Gaia is a very human heroine, often uncertain of her course but always determined to do right as best she can. Although this is undeniably a dystopia, it is filled with romance and beauty, but familiarity with the first book is crucial to understanding this one.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Once again, spunky teen-midwife Gaia takes down a dystopia. After fleeing from the Enclave, Gaia finds the utopia to which her grandmother once fled (Birthmarked, 2010). Like an inverse of the Enclave, Sylum offers equality and fairness in spades, but once Gaia digs deeper she finds it's another dystopia, this time controlled by women (namely the charismatic, blind Matrarc). But something in the air kills anyone who leaves, so Gaia must stay. Immediately she finds herself in the middle of a power struggle, as she questions the status quo, befriends the women who opt out of the "marriage and ten children" regulations that protect the population, argues that men (the majority population) deserve a vote too, performs secret autopsies and unravels the mystery of why those who leave die. Whew! Plus, she juggles a love quadrangle with two brothers from Sylum and Luke, who has fled his powerful father back at the Enclave to follow Gaia across the wasteland. A satisfying repeat of the same heavy themes as the first volume (women's rights over their own bodies; an individual's rights versus the power of the community and government; the way in which the masses are drugged--now literally--into quiescent submission) is here leavened with new settings and more kissing. Faintly feminist soft science fiction for preteens and teens. (Dystopia. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452611396
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2013
  • Series: Birthmarked Trilogy Series, #2
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Since earning an MA in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, Caragh M. O’Brien has been a high school teacher, an author of romance novels, and now a novelist for teens. Her novels Birthmarked and Prized were named YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults.  Birthmarked was also a Junior Library Guild Selection and chosen for the ALA 2011 Amelia Bloomer List.  She lives with her family and writes from her home in Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt

Prized

The Second Book in the Birthmarked Trilogy


By Caragh M. O'Brien

Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2011 Caragh M. O'Brien
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0269-8



CHAPTER 1

the wasteland


SHE GRABBED THE HILT of her knife and scrambled backward into the darkness, holding the baby close in her other arm.

Beyond the fire, the wasteland was still, as if the wind and even the stones had frozen in the night to listen, and then she heard it again, a faint chink, like a footfall in pebbles. Someone or something was out there, watching her.

Gaia turned the knife in her palm, resettling her grip, and peered toward where the far edge of the firelight touched the boulders and the gnarled, wind-stunted trees of the gulch. Without dropping her gaze, she felt by hand that the baby was secure in the sling across her chest, her warm, light weight hardly more than a loaf of bread. She'd left the baby bottle on a ledge of rock, out by the fire, and she hoped whoever was watching her wouldn't take that bottle, whatever else they might do.

The chinking noise came again, drawing her gaze to the far side of the fire. Then a head, an enormous, animal head, big as a cow's but long of face, appeared at the edge of the firelight, looking directly at her. A horse? she thought, astounded to see an animal she'd believed was extinct. She checked its back for a rider, but there was none.

Inadvertently, she lowered her knife. In that instant, a powerful hand closed around her wrist and another touched around her throat.

"Drop it."

The voice came softly from behind her right ear. Sweat broke out along her arms and neck, but still she clasped the knife. His grip did not move, did not lessen or increase at all, conveying his confidence that he simply had to wait until she obeyed. So completely, so imperceptibly had he crept up around her that she stood no chance of fighting back. Below her jaw, she could feel her own pulse beating against the firm, pernicious pressure of his thumb.

"Don't hurt me," she said, but even as she spoke, she realized he could have killed her already if that had been his intention. Rapidly, she imagined trying to twist free of him with a kick, but the baby might get hurt. She couldn't risk it.

"Just drop it," came the voice again. "We'll talk."

With a sense of despair, she dropped her knife.

"Do you have any other weapons on you?"

She shook her head.

"No sudden moves," he said, and his hands released her.

She sagged slightly, feeling the adrenaline still coursing through her.

He picked up her knife and took a step toward the glow of the fire. A broad-shouldered, bearded man, he wore clothes and a hat of the same worn, dusty color as the wasteland.

"Step forward where I can see you properly," he said, and held out a hand to invite her forward. "Where's the rest of your group?"

"We're it," she said.

Gaia stepped into the firelight, and now that the burst of fear that had given her strength was receding, she doubted she could stand for long. The campsite, she knew, must reveal how she'd been reduced to the last, pathetic shreds of survival. He picked up the baby bottle. She watched his gaze settle on the sling that crossed her chest and the protective hand she kept there. He jogged up the brim of his hat with his thumb in obvious surprise.

"You have a baby?"

Gaia braced a hand against the tree trunk. "You don't have any baby formula with you, do you?"

"I don't usually carry that. What's in this?" He gave the bottle a little shake, and the translucent liquid caught the golden firelight.

"Rabbit broth. She won't take it anymore. She's too weak."

"A girl, even. Let me see her."

She curved back the edge of the sling for him to see, and as she had done a thousand times since she'd left the Enclave, she checked her sleeping sister to see if she was still breathing. Firelight flickered over the little, pinched face, bathing it in brief color before sending it back to black and white. A delicate vein arched along Maya's right temple, and a breath lifted her little chest.

The man touched a finger to the baby's eyelid, lifted it a moment, then let it go.

He gave a sharp whistle, and the horse came nearer. "Here we go, then, Mlady," he said. Decisively, the outrider lifted Gaia from the ground and up to the saddle. She grabbed the pommel to balance herself and Maya, and swung a leg over. He passed her the bottle and her cloak, then collected her meager things into her pack and slung it over his own shoulder.

"Where are we going?" Gaia asked.

"To Sylum as directly as we can. I hope it's not too late."

Shifting, she tried to arrange some of the fabric of her dress between herself and the saddle. She could feel the dark, cool air touching her legs above the tops of her boots. When the outrider swung up behind her on the horse, she instinctively leaned forward, trying not to crowd against him. His arms encircled her as he reached for the reins, and then he kicked the horse into motion.

"Hey, Spider."

The horse's movements seemed jerky to Gaia at first, but when her hips relaxed into the horse's stride, the ride became smoother. Behind them, the gibbous moon was low on the western horizon, casting a light strong enough to create shadows in their path, and Gaia peered to her right, toward the south, to where the Enclave and all she'd left behind had long ago dropped beneath the dark horizon.

For the first time in days, Gaia realized she might live, and hope was almost painful as it reawakened inside her. Inexplicably, she thought of Leon, and a lightless, lonely feeling surrounded her, as real as the outrider's unfamiliar, protective arms. She'd lost him. Whether he lived or died she would never know, and in a way, the uncertainty rivaled the unhappiness of knowing definitively that her parents were dead.

Her sister could well be next. Gaia reached her hand into the sling, easing her fingers between layers of fabric so that she could feel the baby's warm head in the palm of her hand. She made sure the cloak couldn't smother the little face, and then she let her eyes close. She nodded gently with the rhythm of the horse.

"Maya is dying," she said, finally admitting it to herself.

The man didn't reply at first, and she thought he must not care. But then there was a careful shifting behind her.

"She may die," he confirmed quietly. "Is she suffering now?"

Not anymore, she thought. Maya's crying, before, had been hard to bear. This was a much quieter, more final form of heartbreak.

"No," Gaia said.

She slumped forward, dimly aware that he was helping, with singular tenderness, to support her and the baby both. Why a stranger's kindness should amplify her sadness she didn't know, but it did. Her legs were chilled, but the rest of her was fast becoming warmer. Lulled by despair and the soporific, distance-eating gait, she gave in to whatever relief oblivion could bring, and slept.


It seemed like years passed before Gaia became dimly aware of a change around them. She ached everywhere, and she was still riding, but she was leaning back against the man whose arms were supporting her and the baby securely. The baby's body was warm. Gaia took a deep breath and opened her eyes to search Maya's face. The baby's skin was translucent, almost blue in its pallor, but she still breathed. When sunlight flickered over the little face, Gaia looked up in wonder to see that they were in a forest.

Tiny dust motes floated in shafts of sunlight that dropped through the canopy of leaves and pine needles, and the air had a lush, humid luminosity that changed breathing fundamentally, filling her lungs with something warm and rich each time she inhaled.

"What is it, in the air?" she asked.

"It's just the forest," he said. "You might be smelling the marsh. We don't have much farther to go."

Even when it had rained in Wharfton, the air itself had remained sere between each raindrop, aching to suck away any moisture, but here, when she lifted her hand, she could feel a trace of new elasticity between her fingers.

"You talk in your sleep," the outrider said. "Is Leon your husband?"

The thought of Leon as her husband was too ludicrous and sad to bear, no matter what she might say in her dreams. "No," she said. "I'm not married."

She glanced down, checking to see if the necklace Leon had returned to her was still around her neck. She tugged the chain so her locket watch rested on top of the neckline of her dress and loosened her cloak. As she straightened, the man let her go, using only his right hand to hold the reins. His fingers, she saw, were clean, with stubby fingernails.

"Where are you from?" he asked.

"South of here. From Wharfton, on the other side of the wasteland."

"So that still exists?" he asked. "How long have you been traveling?"

She thought back over a daze of time in the wasteland. "The formula for Maya lasted ten days. I lost track after that. I found an oasis and caught a rabbit. That was, I'm not sure, maybe two days ago." There'd been a corpse at the oasis, a body with no visible wounds, like a harbinger of her own pending starvation. Yet she'd made it this far.

"You're safe now," he said. "Or almost."

The path rose one last time, turned, and the earth dropped away on their right. Stretching far toward the eastern horizon was a great, blue-green flatness that reflected bits of sky between hillocks of green.

She had to squint to see it clearly, and even then she could hardly believe what she was seeing. "Is it a lake?"

"It's the marsh. Marsh Nipigon."

"I've never seen anything so beautiful," she said.

Lifting a hand to shade her eyes, she stared, marveling. Gaia had spent much of her childhood trying to imagine Unlake Superior full of water, but she'd never guessed it would be like having a second, broken sky down below the horizon. The marsh expanded across much of the visible world: part serpentine paths of water, part patches of green, with three islands receding into the distance. Even from this height, she could breathe in the cool freshness of it, laced with the loamy tang of mud.

"How can there be so much water?" she asked. "Why hasn't it all evaporated?"

"Most of the water is gone. This is all that's left of an old lake from the cool age, and the water gets lower every year."

She pointed to a swatch of dark green that rippled in a slow-motion wave as the wind moved across it. "What's that area there?"

"There? That's the black rice slue," he said.

The path took a long, left-handed turn along the bluff, and as they rode, Gaia could see where the landscape dipped down to form a sprawling V-shaped valley. At the wide end, the forest descended to meet the marsh. A patchwork of woods, farmland, and backyard gardens seemed to be stitched together by dirt roads and pinned in place by three water towers. Where the path curved down to meet the sandy beach, a dozen groups of men were working around canoes and skiffs.

"Havandish!" the outrider called. "Hurry ahead and tell the Matrarc I've brought in a girl with a starving baby. She needs a wet nurse."

"We'll meet you at the lodge," a man answered, swinging onto another horse and bolting ahead. People turned to stare.

"Who's the Matrarc?" Gaia asked.

"Mlady Olivia. She runs Sylum for us," he said.

He steered his horse rapidly up the shore and through the village, and for the first time, the horse stumbled. Gaia clutched at the pommel, but the horse regained its footing.

"Almost there, Spider," the outrider said. "Good boy."

Caked with sweat, double-burdened, the horse flicked back an ear and pushed onward. The road turned to abut a level, open oval of lawn, edged with oaks and ringed farther out by sturdy log cabins. Simply dressed people paused in their work to follow their progress.

Ahead, a sun-scorched strip of dirt separated the commons from a big lodge of hewn, dovetailed logs, and in this area stood a row of four wooden frames, like disconnected parts of a fence. Puzzled by the jumbled sight, Gaia stared at a hunched form in the last frame until understanding came to her: they were stocks, and the dark form was a slumped prisoner, passed out or dead under the noonday sun.

"Why is that man in the stocks?" she asked.

"Attempted rape."

"Is the girl okay?" Gaia asked. What sort of place have I come to?

"Yes," he said, and dismounted from behind her. Rugged and lean, bearded and strong, the outrider ran a hand down his horse's neck and turned to look up at Gaia. He isn't old, she thought, surprised by her first clear look at him. She'd seen the outrider only by the light of the fire, and she was curious now to see how this man, to whom she owed her life, matched his voice and clean hands.

He tilted his face slightly, regarding her closely, and she waited for a question about the scar that disfigured the left side of her face. It never came. Instead, he took off his hat to rake a hand through hair that was dark with sweat. Decisive, perceptive eyes dominated his even features with inviting candor. Beneath his beard, the corners of his mouth turned down briefly with a trace of regret.

He donned his hat again. "I hope your baby makes it, Mlass," he said. "For your own sake."

Startled, she instinctively held her sister closer, but before she could ask what he meant, a light tapping noise came from behind her. She turned. A wide, deep veranda spanned the width of the big lodge, and a white-haired woman with a red cane was coming through the screen door. She stood straight, and her pale blue dress draped over her pregnant form with regal simplicity. A bit of gold and glass hung from a necklace, gleaming against her dark skin.

Six months, Gaia estimated. The Matrarc was six months pregnant.

Half a dozen women were coming out of the lodge behind the Matrarc, openly curious, and more people were gathering in the commons.

The Matrarc held out a slender hand in a gesture of expectation. "Chardo Peter? You brought in a girl and a baby?"

Gaia noticed a subtle disconnection between the Matrarc's gesture and the direction of her gaze, and put it together with the significance of the cane: she was blind.

"Yes, Mlady," he said. "The baby's a girl and nearly dead from starvation."

"Bring them here to me," said the Matrarc. "I suppose the girl is weak. Carry her if you must."

Chardo propped his hat on the pommel and reached up to help Gaia. She shifted her sling to make sure Maya was secure. As her feet touched the dirt, her knees buckled, and he caught her before her legs gave out entirely. "Forgive me, Mlass," he said. He scooped her up in his arms and delivered her to the top of the steps. Gaia steadied herself against a log pillar and glanced furtively around. She didn't know why she was uneasy, but something felt wrong.

"Please," Gaia said. "We need a doctor."

The tip of the Matrarc's red cane nudged Gaia's boot, but then she set the cane aside and extended her hands. "I want to see the baby." There was a melodious, deep quality in her voice that took the edge off her direct command, and yet she clearly expected to be obeyed.

Gaia gently extricated Maya from the sling and lifted her into those expectant hands. Unbelievably scrawny and fragile, the baby was hardly more than a listless bundle of blankets. The Matrarc cradled Maya in one arm and ran quick fingers over her face and arms, settling at the baby's throat.

Up close, Gaia saw the Matrarc's complexion was a deep tan, with darker freckles splayed across her nose and cheeks. Her wrinkles were few. Despite prematurely white hair, which was arranged in a soft, heavy bun, the Matrarc was in her mid-thirties, Gaia guessed, and obviously competent with a baby. The clear, translucent brown of her sightless eyes was lit by an alert, trenchant expression, and then she frowned with concern.

"You see?" Gaia said.

"It's not good," the Matrarc said. "When was she born?"

"About two weeks ago. She was premature."

"Where's Mlady Eva?" the Matrarc said.

A woman was hurrying across the commons carrying a baby of her own. "I'm here!" she called. Her apron had streaks of red, and her dark hair was coming loose from its ponytail. "I was just putting up my preserves, but Havandish told me this couldn't wait. Why do you need my baby?"

"You'll need him to get your milk flowing," the Matrarc said. "A baby has just arrived who's too weak even to suck. Do the best you can for her. Mlady Roxanne, take them in. Quickly, please."

The Matrarc passed Gaia's sister to a tall, angular woman who gave Gaia a swift look through her glasses, then took the baby into the lodge. Mlady Eva was untucking her blouse as she hurried after them.

"Wait for me," Gaia said.

"No, stay," the Matrarc said. "We need to get acquainted. What's your name, child?"

Gaia peered anxiously through the screen door, but already the others were out of sight. She tried to follow, but her legs were still too wobbly. "Where are they going? I need to be with my sister."

"She's not your own child, then?" the Matrarc asked.

"No. Of course not." Gaia glanced at Chardo to find him regarding her with faint surprise, as if he had been operating under the same misassumption as the Matrarc. "I would never have been feeding her rabbit broth if I could have nursed her myself," she said to him.

"I didn't know what to think," he said.

"Obviously, you've been through an ordeal," the Matrarc cut in, lifting a hand. "Let me see your face."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien. Copyright © 2011 Caragh M. O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
CHAPTER 1 - the wasteland,
CHAPTER 2 - libbies,
CHAPTER 3 - a deal,
CHAPTER 4 - peony's request,
CHAPTER 5 - in the morteur's barn,
CHAPTER 6 - concoction,
CHAPTER 7 - chainmates,
CHAPTER 8 - a period of reflection,
CHAPTER 9 - brothers,
CHAPTER 10 - shirts and skins,
CHAPTER 11 - the thirty-two games,
CHAPTER 12 - prize,
CHAPTER 13 - loyalty,
CHAPTER 14 - riding double,
CHAPTER 15 - chicken,
CHAPTER 16 - bachsdatters' island,
CHAPTER 17 - bow and stern,
CHAPTER 18 - the winner's cabin,
CHAPTER 19 - lightning bugs,
CHAPTER 20 - innocence,
CHAPTER 21 - cinnamon,
CHAPTER 22 - paradise,
CHAPTER 23 - the tribunal,
CHAPTER 24 - the stocks,
CHAPTER 25 - the matrarc's choice,
CHAPTER 26 - power,
CHAPTER 27 - further,
acknowledgments,
Preview: Vault of Dreamers,
Copyright Page,

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 86 )
Rating Distribution

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(58)

4 Star

(20)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 86 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A page turner!

    Wow, I seriously couldn't put this book down! In fact, I read this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

    The hopelessness, the fear, the anxiety, these were so well instilled in this book. Knowing that she doesn't have anywhere else to turn, Gaia ends up in a different dystopian society. Except that this one is run by women, as opposed to men, which is obviously very different from the Enclave. Gaia has her baby sister taken away from her because she's been deemed incapable of providing for her.

    To go back to the traveling, Gaia traveled for two weeks and then was rescued and taken by horse to Sylum. I found myself wondering exactly how far she had walked, and how far the horse ride back was. It wasn't entirely clear in the book, but to me it seems like the two societies are pretty close to one another. Which is sad considering people in the Enclave feel like they're the only people who exist.

    I was ecstatic when Leon arrived into Sylum, although his entrance wasn't that grand. I wanted to be furious with Leon. I tried, I really did. But I couldn't help but see his point of view regarding this new life. He made some really good points regarding Gaia and the society they were now in.

    Prized ends with a nice set up for the third book, which obviously I'm going to want to read since I could barely put down the first two books.

    I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Loved this book!

    Birthmarked was good, but Prized was even better. I found myself giggling with excitement like a teenager during some passages. Love the main character and love the storyline. I can't wait for the next book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

    Liked it but......

    I have to say this book was a very entertaining read for me. At the same time i didnt like gaias attiude in the middle of the book. One moment her soul is broken the next shes her old defiant self. Still a huge fan of the series and eagerly awating the next one.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    Stupid. Stupid stupid. Let's make a series about women's rights

    Stupid. Stupid stupid. Let's make a series about women's rights and about what things would be like with women ruling. Guess what? Women are still "prizes" that get to be won by the men in a contest of physical strength and agility. Does this sound revolutionary? No?




    How about a girl whose very essence is all about "life first" and then helps with an abortion without a second thought? I don't really get offended easily, and this didn't bother me the way it bothered most everyone else who gave this a bad review. For me, it just doesn't fit her character. She's all "I can't kill anyone I only choose life and babies and they are so magical and I must risk my neck in stupid attempts to save lives" and then does an abortion. Makes. No. Sense.




    And the STUPID love rectangle or whatever that was. Seriously? It's not enough that she was one guy, or even two guys after her. She needs to have THREE and two of them are brothers. Which also makes no sense, because the entire first book puts so much emphasis on her damn scar and then suddenly no one notices it anymore? Really? No.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Another good read

    I loved her first book Birthmarked and this sequel doesnt disapoint. It starts directly where birthmark left off, which was a good move on the authors part, it keeps you drawn in, especially if you liked the first one as much as i did. Although i like the plot better in the first book the second is where Gaia becomes herself and grows into the type of character she'll have as a woman. She tries iut a new lifestyle and finds what she truly believes through all the chaos around her. Her relationships get compliated considering more then one comes up. But Leon remain her grounding post to remind her of everything shes thinks she can forget. Leon is what makes the difference in this book, he becomes more of a person as he sheds his layers so you can feel his turmoil over what hapoens. Great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2011

    A great sequel to Birthmarked!

    The sequel to Birthmarked finds Gaia struggling to save her baby sister as she tries to reach her grandmother. But when she is rescued by a stranger and taken to the town her grandmother use to run, Gaia finds the rules of that society are also constricting. The number of men far outweigh the number of women and so the women hold all the power. But power can be corrupting and the men are getting tired of being the underdogs. Gaia finds unfairness at each turn along with someone from her past who provides another source of conflict for her. While there is no such thing as a perfect society, it seems that all Gaia can find is dysfunctional ones. This time she moves to one where the rules seems unfair to her and, frankly, chaffed me as well. The Matrarc of the town immediately takes away her baby sister and her freedom. And it left me angry at how quickly Gaia or any stranger is treated like a criminal simply for being from somewhere else. The action moved pretty quickly even as Gaia is kept locked up. But the romance angle felt like it was too much and it was a little unnecessary. I am curious to see what happens next with Gaia and her tendency to overthrow dystopias. This series is turning out to be a real page turner.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great read but doesn't quite live up to the first

    I ADORED Birthmarked, as you can tell from my review of it way back in March. I have been waiting on pins and needles for this second book ever since then and as a result, I believe my standards were simply set too high. This book, while quite the enjoyable read, didn't quite live up to my expectations.

    Prized begins with Gaia alone in the wilderness, running away from the Enclave with her baby sister. Her sister is clearly suffering and Gaia herself is weak. The pair has long since run out of most supplies and is barely getting by when they are kidnapped/rescued by a mysterious man on horseback. He takes them to Sylum, a whole new world that is different that anything that Gaia has every imagined. The women run everything, despite a population of mostly men, and relationships are strictly controlled.

    O'Brien's world-building really shines in this second book as she creates a whole new dystopian society. A part of me felt like this was a bit unnecessary since we already had an established society in book one, but I guess I understood that she had to create something new since Gaia was entering unknown territory and leaving behind the Enclave (and these new people had no real knowledge of the Enclave).

    While the world-building was superb, the characters--specifically, Gaia--suffered a bit in this book. Gaia goes from the incredibly smart, strong girl who saved a dead woman's baby and escaped the Enclave prison to a weak, timid, and easily manipulated young woman. I couldn't believe the ease with which she seemed to fall into the woman's role in Sylum and leave behind her strong beliefs. I understand that she faces some really difficult things when she first gets there, but she seems (to me) to concede far too easily to the demands of the Matrarc. When she first submits, I hope that it's a show and in private we'll still see the strong, courageous Gaia of Birthmarked, but it was not so. Towards the end when things finally get crazy, Gaia seems to rediscover her passionate, courageous nature and finally stand up for something. She finally makes the tough decisions that she knows in her gut are right. She redeems herself quite a bit in the final chapters.

    Overall, I really did end up enjoying this novel, simply not as much as the first book. Since this is set to be a trilogy, my hope is that book three will continue with Gaia as the strong woman that we know she is and possibly (hopefully) return our characters to the original setting--the Enclave. As Sylum has a lot of problems, I see this as highly likely and look forward to the confrontation that would seem to loom on the horizon. My hope is that this book simply suffers a little from "middle book syndrome" and Ms. O'Brien will once again completely "wow" readers in book three. Despite some of my problems with this book, I am definitely still looking forward to a fabulous conclusion to this trilogy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    Great dystopian novel!

    Prized is the second novel in the Birthmarked series. It picks up right where the first book (Birthmarked) leaves off, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Still, I recommend reading them in order.


    For a fairly new author, Caragh O'Brien is very polished. The story starts off fast and just keeps going, never dragging. Prized is in such a different setting than Birthmarked that if not for the characters Gaia and Leon, I might have felt I was reading a different series. That was fine with me, I was impressed with how O'Brien masterfully created two different worlds and bridged them together in the two books.


    This is a fascinating dystopian series. It will be published on November 8, 2011. Officially it's for young adults, but us older kids are allowed to enjoy it, too!


    *Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Did not enjoy this book

    While I enjoyed the first book of the series, I did not like the second and third books. Very strange, made me sad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    it gets better with the 2nd

    Ohh my it just got good!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS WOWWW...

    LOVED IT!! I WAS LIKE WHAT??? HOW THE HECK IS THIS HAPPENING!!! **TEARS**(MORE LIKE A WATERFALL)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Sunshine to mystery

    First off sorry about jade scond i am on

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Lilianna

    Pulls back and rubs her pu<_>ssy against his thigh, rubbing her boo<_>bs against his chest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    The prizes are...

    For beating 1 legendary:500 pokedollars. 2 legendaries:1,000 dollars and 1 SuperPotion. 3:1,200 pokedollars and 7 Ether. 4:1,200 dollars 10 SuperPotions 5 Ether. 5:1,500 dollars and 1 SuperPotion and 1 ThunderStone and 1 MoonStone. 6 and above:2,000 dollars 15 SuperPotions 2 Fire stones 3 MoonStones. and for every legendary above 6 you get 1 Ether. (If you beat 7 you get 1 Ether. Beat 8 you get 2 etc.) If you can beat every single legendary using only 6 none legendaries you get every single prize.

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  • Posted March 13, 2013

    I love this book! It is a fast paced book that I got through ve

    I love this book! It is a fast paced book that I got through very quickly. The book is about a girl named Gaia Stone. Finally escaping the enclave, she thought she was safe, but litte did she know how hard it would be to survive in the wastelands with her sister with her. Seeking help, she comes across a society called Sylum. Appearing to be a perfect place to live with her sister she decides to stay, but when a friend from the past and secrets surface, will that opinion stay the same? Will Gaia have escaped the enclave for their controlling and extreme actions? Will she ignore her sense of justice, and conscience, or will she fight back? I liked this book because the author did not dissapoint me. After a great first book, Prized was a sequel that matched the great content of the first story. I liked how the author brought out all of the dilemmas Gaia was going through in her head, instead of leaving that for us to assume that it was there. I didn't like the many more love relationships she brouhgt into the story, the previous book was more straight forward and simple.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Great

    Another great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Another great book

    If you like the Hunger Games you will love this series!

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  • Posted January 13, 2013

    Gaia Stone has escaped the Enclave with her newborn baby sister

    Gaia Stone has escaped the Enclave with her newborn baby sister Maya. Out into the wasteland she ventured, but with little food, water and baby formula, they’re doomed to die if they don’t find help soon. Days pass and just when death looms near, a hero on a horse rescue Gaia and takes her and Maya to Sylum.
    Sylum is a community where the women are in charge. Something is happening to all the newborn babies, they’re always male. Females are in high demand and marriages are a battle. Kissing is outlawed and when Gaia joins the people of Sylum she doesn’t understand why everyone isn’t equal. Sylum isn’t better than the Enclave, it’s almost worse.
    Gaia is determined to figure out the mystery of Sylum, but her heart is distracted. As a new female she gathers the attention of every eligible male. When a familiar face returns Gaia must look inside her heart and trust what she feels if she, Maya and the people of Sylum have any chance of continuing their existence.
    I loved the first book in this series, Birthmarked. I was looking for something that would grab my attention like The Hunger Games and Birthmarked filled all that criteria. However, once I leaped into Prized, I found myself disappointed. It started off great, and finally here is a scenario where women have all the power and treat men like they have treated us for thousands of years! Power to women! What a fantastic choice to move the story I originally thought.
    Instead I found myself being embarrassed to keep reading. The women in power were just as bad as stereotypical male lead characters and it was a huge disappointment. What had the potential to be a great story line got somehow lost. My disappointment grew as the lack of originality progressed. I still want to read the last instalment in the series. The ending at least in Prized wasn’t a disappointment and I’m happy O’Brien captured my attention. I’m excited to see how things end for Gaia in Promised.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Great book!

    Can't wait to read the next one!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    AMAZING SEQUEL

    Don't pass this trilogy up. It's one of the best series I've ever read. So good!!! And don't forget the free bridged story "Tortured" between Birthmarked and Prized!

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