Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Promise For A Better Tomorrow

"You impossible idiot..."
--Caragh O'Brien, Promised

Genre: YA Dystopia
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 304 pages
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Source: Bought
Find on Goodreads
Previous Books in Series: Birthmarked & Prized
Goodreads Description

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and overthrowing Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her greatest challenge yet--to lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge. But in Gaia's absence, the Enclave has become even more ruthless, picking girls from outside the wall to serve in an experimental baby factory. Babies with the right genes are now a priceless commodity with the potential to reshape life inside the wall and redefine humanity. The key to it all comes back to one fearless, young midwife. When negotiations devolve into terrorist threats, Gaia finds herself at the crux of an insupportable decision.

As a leader, a woman, and an idealist in love, Gaia must decide if she can sacrifice what--or whom--she values most.

Ok, wow...I don't really know how to begin this. I've just finished Promised the final book in the Birthmarked Trilogy by the amazing Caragh O'Brien and I have to say I am both sated and sad. If you haven't read the first two books please go do so immediately. I'm serious. I will be SPOILING the books for you in the very near text so unless you want to know how it ends stop reading this and go pick up the

K, good, that's out of the way. *sigh* So Promised was everything I wanted out of the final book. I devoured it in a day (go figure, like this odd for me or something) and while I am every so happy with how it ended and that there is no more conflict for them I can't help but feel a little sad I don't get to read about Leon and Gaia anymore *tear*. Anyways, my emotional instability needs to be set at bay for a moment if I have any chance of writing this.

SO a quick summary or I'll go into way too much detail; Gaia and Leon and the rest of Sylum that decided to come with are traveling to the Enclave in hopes of settling there. On the way they find Jack who is with a child named Angie. They reach the outside of the wall and Gaia is immediately taken in for questioning where Mabrother Iris puts in V cell as punishment. She has an emotional breakdown thinking about poor Leon being beaten in this very room *keep it together Kel*, Gaia gets out, Protectorat is PISSED, Leon and Gaia plot what the best thing is to do, Leon sneaks in *DAMMIT LEON YOU'RE GONNA GET YOURSELF KILLED*, Gaia goes after him, Gaia's other brother Arthur finds her and gets her back out, the Vessel Program is discovered (aka a baby factory-esque program for rich people to buy babies), Gaia goes to the Vessel Program ceremony because they have Leon, he's drugged, she rescues him, they eventually blow up the wall, get captured, torture Leon and Gaia, take Gaia's ovaries (yes you read that correctly), try to execute all her friends, and after a close call Leon lives, Peter is not so fortunate and Gaia and Leon plan to wed the next day. *WIPES BROW*

Needless to say I was an emotional roller coaster throughout the entire novel. I absolutely love the characterization of Gaia and Leon and there are some really beautiful moments and conversations between them that leave you with the feeling of unquestionable loyalty between them. Do they always agree? No. Do they piss each other off quite a lot? Yes. Are they both perfect? Of course not. But this is what makes them so perfect for each other and so great together. They push each other to be completely honest with their feelings. They bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in each other but aren't all great relationships the same? The quote I put at the top is my favorite in the entire novel because it just sums up their relationship so sweetly. They may fight and banter but in the end they know they are meant for each other.

And Gaia does question their status a lot which I also found refreshing while reading. She isn't stupid, she doesn't just throw herself into marriage because it feels right at the moment. She thinks about it, makes sure it is what Leon wants as well. I love this about her character she tries not to make rash decisions. In regards to Leon my two favorite Gaia moments are when she is in V cell and when she is lost in the tunnels and she realizes that at the end of the day none of the other political mumbo jumbo matters, she just wants to be with the person she loves and live in a society that is safe and fair. *That's all I want for you too Gaia!*

The end of the book had me in an emotional wreckage. I was crying. My heart hurt. My head hurt. The scene where Gaia wakes up and realizes her ovaries were forcefully taken and her future dreams of having kids with Leon were ultimately over before they began cracked me (the breaking came later, stay tuned). I just cannot imagine having that choice taken away from you without having any sort of say in the matter. She wakes up and they're gone. My heart was breaking for her and I could not even begin to imagine what that would feel like. *tears streaming down my face*

And we're not done yet. Emily is there when Gaia wakes up and informs her that Leon, Peter, Jack and Malachi are all going to be executed in a matter of minutes. She runs out, makes a scene, tries to save Leon and the Protectorat orders to open fire on her and the prisoners. In the chaos of it all Leon gets shot three times after shooting his father in the leg and is so very near death that he begins to tell Gaia that she was the best thing that ever happened to him and all the stuff he wants her to do in her life without him. Marry Peter, have kids, grow old. She yells back not to be stupid because she is doing all that with him. Right there. That moment. I broke. I actually am tearing up now remembering it. *How sad and pathetic am I?* Ugh, it hurt. Leon is just so amazing. What a damned hero.

Gaia finally finds Sephie and hooks Gaia up to give Leon her blood for a transfusion. Caragh O'Brien, this might be the most touching romantic scene I've ever read. Gaia is literally giving Leon his life back and the irony that she lost the ability to create life in the form of a child was not lost on me. Beautiful. Touching. Poetic. Just Perfect. Bravo.

Leon eventually heals, there might be a chance Gaia could implant one of her eggs with another man's sperm into her uterus but she doesn't know if she wants to try. I can't blame her. She says she has Maya and Leon and that might be enough for her. Ugh. I so badly wanted her to be able to have kids with Leon but O'Brien did a fantastic job of outlining the real loss that war and battles and political turmoil can bring. While she did end up with Leon alive and well *THANK GOODNESS*, the sacrifice of having children is a huge loss.

This series is amazing. It is young adult but I absolutely love how O'Brien takes real-life issues and manipulates them in a way that young adults can understand and discuss. The topics in this book are not light or watered down. She discusses the issue of human rights, scientific advances to society, oppression, human dignity and suffering. These are not things that are found in most young adult books...or even adult fiction books. The brilliance behind this writing is above and beyond and I will be recommending this series to everyone I know.

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