Friday, July 20, 2012
Happiness is...a good book (Summer Reading edition #20)
Author: Caragh M. O’Brien
Age Range: 13-17
Cover Score: **** (note below)
Overall Score: ***
First Sentence: In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia’s ready hands.
*The image here is not the same as the cover of the book I read. I couldn't find one that matched! This cover would only rate a 2 or so in my opinion. It's far less eye-catching.
In a not-so-distant future society is slowly rebuilding after a catastrophic climate change. On the banks of the Unlake (a dried remnant of Lake Superior) inhabitants live in two separate factions; those inside the walled city or Enclave and those outside. Inside are the privileged few, the wealthy who have regained some technology and have leisure time for education and recreation, while those outside are peasant-ish, fighting for bare necessities and paying tribute of their goods and lives to those inside.
Sixteen year old Gaia is a midwife, her mothers' apprentice. She has just delivered her first successful solo birth when she learns her mother and father have been taken by city soldiers. When she sneaks inside to help them escape Gaia is forced to question everything she has ever known or believed about her life. Things are not as rosy in the Enclave as Gaia has always imagined, there are cruelties and harsh government rulings and hereditary disorders that threaten their very lives.
Each month the town is required to pay tribute of their first 3 births, sending the newborns to live in the Enclave where they are promised a life of ease and opportunity. But inbreeding and lack of knowledge have led to many problems. The Enclave is sure that Gaia’s mother holds the clues to the bloodlines that will help strengthen the genetic pool and rebuild the population. But she is in prison and refuses to reveal what she knows and now Gaia must trust her despite not knowing the truth.
This was a fairly interesting premise but I just could never get myself into it. The writing was fine but nothing jumped out at me as exceptional. Gaia was a relatively strong female character (which is always good) but I never found myself feeling overwhelmingly drawn to her and her plight. It wasn’t a miserable read by any stretch but I probably wouldn't have pushed through it if it weren't for the fact that I have to read the sequel for a work review. (You might also chalk it up to my summer reading overload and having a desire to read a bit more in the fluff department.)
Did the sequel grab me? Did it build or fizzle? You’ll have to wait until next week when I tell you all about Prized to find out.