“It isn’t always easy between us. I admit that. But it’s right between us, always.”
–Caragh O’Brien, Prized
Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 365 pages
Publication Date: November 8th, 2011
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Previous Books in Series: Birthmarked
Ok, SO…I am not a sap...well, that's a lie but I need to semi-make this point anyways. I feel as if there is a part of me that is slightly a hopeless romantic but I’m also completely realistic and practical as well. With that said, while Prized (the second book in the Birthmarked series) has so much to it I have to say that the love square (yes you heard me right) was one for the record books. My heart and chest physically hurt due to the intensity of the emotions and situations. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
MAJOR SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ WHICH YOU SHOULD GO DO RIGHT NOW! :)
Gaia has escaped the Enclave and is heading north with her baby sister Maya to the Dead Forest to try and find her grandmother. She almost dies in the wilderness until she is rescued by a man that comes from a community called Sylum. This place is run by women, men outnumber women 9 to 1, and the leader of this place is called the Matrac. When Gaia arrives, they take her baby sister stating that she is basically negligent in her care because she took Maya into the wilderness knowing full well she could die out there so now as a gift to the community to let her stay they are going to take Maya and give her to another family to raise…um, what?! While Gaia doesn’t just lie down and take this, she does fight, I give the girl credit for not legitimately clawing out the eyes of everyone standing between her and her sister…I can’t say I would not have killed somebody.
Gaia also learns that she has to make a decision to stay in Sylum within the next day because after that if she tries to leave she will die…ooh, really? Now things are getting twisted and interesting. Everyone that has tried to leave has died. For real. So from the looks of it the Matrac runs a pretty tight ship. Her rules and reasoning when Gaia questions her were so ass-backward to me I, again, felt physical anger during her first few encounters. The woman is a complete control freak. She tolerates no questioning, no dissent, no discussion at all in regards to the insane code of conduct they live by. To the Matrac, its all for the good of Sylum and to protect the women. No touching is allowed between men and women who aren’t married, a kiss is a charge for attempted rape by a man (seriously), and if women choose not to marry they are outcast.
Oh we’re not done yet. Every male is tested at the age of 14 to identify if their sperm are viable for reproduction because there are so many males to so few females that every marriage must result in 10 children and there has been only one girl born in the last few years. Dicey stuff going on. So every month the men who are eligible to marry participate in the thirty-two games where a winner is proclaimed and is allowed to live with one female of his choice in the winner’s cabin. Crazy, right?! But oh so enticing!
I usually do NOT write up this much of the synopsis but there is just SO much that happens in the book that not explaining would be a disservice to the book and trust me, SO much more happens! It is so intelligent. While the love story is amazing the whole concept and imagination of this society was so unlike anything I’ve ever read. The thirty-two games, the winner’s circle, the rules, it was so different I couldn’t stop reading! AND THE OPPRESSION! The Matrac and her decisions and rulings and her need for control was so angering to read. This series reminds me of the Hunger Games because its not just a love story or about kids killing kids, its all about the political injustice that these characters faced. I loved it. They fought the man, they stood up for the weak, they did what they thought was right.
The strength and morality of Gaia never ceased to amaze me. She started a revolution when she saw injustice. Like I said, this book is not an easy read. It discusses oppression, basic human rights, resistance, morality, and love. My heart was pounding through most of the book and I just can’t get enough. The characters in this book were so much more complex and deep and O’Brien did such a fantastic job of keeping each character unique and special and you don’t even know who to root for half the time.
The struggle the characters go through to do the right thing were agonizing but oh so right. The right choice is never the easiest but I truly believe in standing up for all people no matter the consequences. I believe people have started to lose sight of standing up for the weak and those than need help. We are so engrossed in our own problems we forget to think of others. This book helped me see that other people believe the same things I do. This book was just phenomenal. It was new, it was refreshing, and it just felt so right. I love Gaia and Leon and I cannot WAIT for the third book and that review will be up next!
OH and I’m meeting the author on Tuesday! EEP!!!! Can’t wait!!