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Birthmarked (Birthmarked Trilogy)

Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien Birthmarked, the first in the YA Birthmarked series, introduces us to sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone. Gaia's mother taught her everything she knows about being a midwife. Gaia, along with her mother and father, lives on the Outside in an area called Wharfton. They lead a simple life and are a happy, loving family. The Enclave, Inside, requires that the first three children of each month each midwife delivers Outside be "advanced" (turned over to them, to be adopted and live Inside) within 90 minutes of their birth. This is the way it's always been. At times the quota has been slightly different and now there's talk that the quota will be increased from three to five.When Gaia returns home, following her first ever solo delivery, to celebrate with her parents, they are no where to be found. Shortly after her arrival, a guard comes to her home asking her questions about her parents. She is uncertain why he's asking her, but she answers as honestly as she can until he finally leaves. She's then told by a neighbor, Derek Vlatir, who's baker and long-time friend of her parents, that they've been arrested. They've been accused of being traitors, and just this morning were sentenced to death."People from the Enclave could come out if they wished, but very few from Wharfton ever went inside the wall, and then only when expressly invited to perform some service or deliver some good." Inside, people live with luxuries like computers, water from faucets, electric lights, etc. Outside, people live day to day, bartering with goods and services. The Wall is guarded by men, many who have been "advanced". But, is life as sweet Inside as it appears on the Outside?Gaia is about to find out because she's determined to save her parents. She knows they must have been falsely accused, her mother is a midwife and her father a tailor. They've always done as the Enclave demands, or so she believes. She turns to Derek for help. He explains that "people have a way of disappearing when they talk too openly against the Enclave. And, then, many of {their} families have sons and brothers in the guard. {They} can't fight {their} own families. Many of {them} have children who were advanced Inside, children who would be harmed if {they} attacked." But, he agrees to show her a way Inside, since she tells him one way or another, she's going.The story has some similarities to Collins' Hunger Games, in that the two tell the story of a young girl who refuses to stand by while others suffer, who takes matters into her own hands with nothing more than her determination. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series. It's a very quick read, but fresh. You quickly find yourself cheering for Gaia and hoping that she's able to rescue her mother and father. By the time she makes her way Inside, you are as anxious as she is to learn more about the world those Outside know only from the Tvaltar (a large screen where movies and snippets from the lives of those Inside are shown to those Outside - passes must be earned).