‘I have to,’ Gaia said, backing away. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘But you can’t,’ the woman gasped.
‘Please,’ the mother begged. ‘Not this one. Not my only. What have I done?’
‘I’m sorry,’ Gaia repeated…’Your baby will be well cared for,’ she said, using the phrases she’d learned. ‘You’ve provided a great service to the Enclave, and you will be compensated.'”
Gaia is a sixteen-year-old midwife, unlucky enough to live outside The Wall, apart from the privileged, comfortable citizens of The Enclave. It is her duty to hand over the first three babies she delivers each month-babies who are destined to be adopted by waiting parents in The Enclave. These children are destined to live a life of comfort and cleanliness, far from the polluted, crowded streets of those living outside the walled community.
When Gaia’s parents are arrested by the very government they worked so faithfully for, Gaia realizes all is not well. Her parents were keeping secrets-a secret code listing the parents of all the babies who had been sent away to live in The Enclave. When the government comes after her, Gaia is forced to choose: solve her parents’ code and turn the information over to a government she doesn’t trust, or attempt a risky escape.
Dystopias, everyone! Do we still love them? I have to say that I do, personally, but I’ve gotten a lot pickier since there are so many great ones out there. I’m bringing this one to you because it is one on the Great List! Gaia is smart, strong, and real-feeling; she feels like someone you go to school with, or would like to. Her job is interesting, and (without spoiling anything) the reason the government needs the delivered babies is double-interesting. For those of you looking for romance, you’ll find a bit, but it’s not front and center, so if it’s not your thing, you’ll be able to ignore it. Part mystery, part thriller, part end-of-the-world book, this one is one I didn’t want to put down.
Author’s website: http://www.caraghobrien.com
If you’re looking for Read-Alikes for Birthmarked, I think you’ll like Parable of the Sower, by superstar science fiction author Octavia Butler-it’s the story of a young women facing a collapsing society, much like Gaia’s.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker also grapples with the collapse of the world as we know, and is told from the perspective of a young woman with an unforgettable voice. This book feels like poetry for the end of the world.
Life as We Knew It is another disaster story: massive climate change makes the earth nearly inhospitable, and teenager Miranda records it all in her diary.