Monday, November 7, 2011


Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien (NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2011). Reviewed from e-ARC provided by publisher via

Prized is the second installment in the Birthmarked Trilogy. Gaia Stone has escaped the treacherous injustice of the Enclave and now faces new injustices in the matriarchal community of Sylum, where the infant sister she fought to rescue is immediately taken from her. Like the Enclave, Sylum is a dying community, though for different reasons.  Sylum has a huge imbalance between male and female population, with very few girls being born and many of the men infertile.  Women rule this society and there are strict rules regulating relations between men and women.  Gaia's midwife skills are valued, but she has trouble understanding the rules and makes mistakes, misleading people without meaning to out of ignorance.  Her friend Leon from the Enclave turns up in Sylum, and Gaia has to navigate rules from her old society as well as this new place.

Like Birthmarked, Prized places Gaia in a precarious situation that requires her to use her wits to solve a mystery and find some resolution.  O'Brien creates another fascinating dystopic world in Sylum that has the reader actively wondering what she would do in such a situation under such circumstances as those in which Gaia finds herself, perhaps moreso than in Birthmarked.  Extremely engaging on many levels, Prized is a winner for readers aged 12 & up.  Mild sexual situations, drugs.

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