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PRIZED by Caragh M. O'Brien


From the Birthmarked Trilogy series, volume 2

by Caragh M. O'Brien

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-570-4
Publisher: Roaring Brook

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)