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Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien

Prized (The Birthmarked Trilogy)Gaia Stone leaves the Enclave with her baby sister and as many supplies as she can carry, searching for a shelter that is only rumored to exist. Close to desperation and death, Gaia is rescued by the people of Sylum, an elusive society her grandmother had run away to years ago. But Sylum isn’t the safe haven Gaia hoped it would be; a rigid body of laws is strictly enforced by the women in charge and anyone who refuses to conform is ostracized or severely punished. Gaia can’t decide whether to submit for the wellbeing of herself and her sister or to stay true to what she believes in. But the longer Gaia stays in Sylum, the more she realizes that there is something seriously wrong with the new society she is forced to live in. Will Gaia have the strength to conquer the forces warring in her mind and heart and take a stand?

I fully admit that this is a rather lackluster if hopefully functional synopsis. I’ll credit this to the fact that O’Brien’s incredible storytelling defies worthwhile summarizing. I was wary of holding my hopes to high after absolutely falling in love with Birthmarked, because as a result, I am sometimes disappointed by follow-up novels. However, I needn’t have worried, because Prized, the sequel to Birthmarked, is just as good if not better than its predecessor. Readers are once again treated to O’Brien’s lush descriptions and beautiful writing, shown the vivid and intense emotions present in every character, and forced to evaluate some controversial and thought-provoking situations. What I thought really made Prized stand out among dystopian sequels is that whereas many other dystopian heroines escape their society to join the resistance, Gaia on the other hand escape the Enclave only to find herself in another cruel society. Instead of taking down a society by force from the outside, Gaia has to introduce change from the inside. I can’t really say for sure whether I liked the ending of this novel exactly as it was, because it honestly felt a little surreal when I was reading, but I do know that Prized as a whole is a magnificent story that I never want to leave behind.

Readers who loved Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien will definitely not want to miss out on its sequel Prized, nor will fans of Shift by Charlotte Agell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and Dark Parties by Sara Grant.

Rating: 4.75

Review copy from publisher Macmillan

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