PrizedStriking Out Into The Wasteland With Nothing But Her Baby Sister, A Handful Of Supplies, And A Rumor To Guide Her, Sixteen Year Old Midwife Gaia Stone Survives, Only To Be Captured By The People Of Sylum, A Dystopian Society Where Women Rule The Men Who Drastically Outnumber Them, And A Kiss Is A Crime In Order To See Her Sister Again, Gaia Must Submit To Their Strict Social Code And The Oppressive Rules Of Matrarc Olivia Meanwhile, Two Brothers Claim Her Attention As They Attempt To Understand The Environmental Trap That Keeps The People Of Sylum Captive, And Suddenly Gaia Must Contend With The Exciting, Uncomfortable, And Altogether New Feeling Of Being DesiredBut When Someone From Her Past Shows Up, Gaia Discovers That Survival Alone Is Not Enough And That Justice Requires Sacrifice

Caragh M O Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS series, both from Macmillan Roaring Brook Press Born in St Paul, Minnesota, Ms O Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University She recently resigned from teaching high school English in order to write young adult novels For information, visit

✍ Prized pdf ✎ Author Caragh M. O'Brien –
  • Hardcover
  • 356 pages
  • Prized
  • Caragh M. O'Brien
  • English
  • 12 September 2018
  • 9781596435704

10 thoughts on “Prized

  1. says:

    This is one of the hardest reviews I ve ever had to write, both because the book left me heartbroken, and because it was so confusing that it left me quite exhausted It is also difficult because I highly respect the author, especially for her openness to honest feedback, and though I disagree with some of the things in this book I continue to respect her and will eagerly await whatever else she may write The other difficulty is that the themes dealt with are highly controversial, and yet they are too important to leave undiscussed.I considered the first book in this series, Birthmarked, to be a rare find in contemporary YA literature In my review I couldn t praise it highly enough.Some of these qualities can be seen somewhat faintly in Prized, but it is a completely new story in a different place with different people and different values.In general terms the story seems to have lost its epic quality while Birthmarked created a logical and coherent world and told the story of one girl s place in it, this book is about the ups and downs of Gaia s personal struggles, and the world outside in Sylum her new home sometimes seems a mere backdrop This book also places emphasis on emotions and physical appearance than the first, and it is a lot morally confusing.Feelings determine right and wrongI must acknowledge Gaia s admirable appreciation for honesty and her earnestness in wanting to do what is right However, in Prized, Gaia s earnestness is set above the question of whether or not she acts rightly, and so her moral choices become cloudy She no longer asks what is the right thing to do , but rather do I feel right about this There are many examples of this that I would have preferred to know about before reading the book, and perhaps others may too things to do with rebellion, romance, and especially life issues view spoiler The most confronting example of this is the reasoning behind the about face that Prized has taken on Life issues Peony, a girl from Sylum, asks Gaia s help to abort the child she is carrying Gaia reasons that 1 Though she doesn t like abortion, she has never had the need for it herself so perhaps her feelings about it could change, 2 Precisely because she feels so strongly that she would never do it herself she must respect the other girl s decision, 3 The girl in the situation is the only one who can decide what is right, and 4 They will feel better about it if they call it miscarriage , even though it is neither accidental nor caused by nature.She doesn t question whether society is right to push the girl into this position by threatening her with banishment or an arranged marriage, and neither does she question whether her own involvement giving the girl a poison which will kill her baby is right She almost tries to disqualify her own misgivings by the fact that she s never needed one, and if she experienced the need herself her feelings may change This implies that in order to know what is right or wrong one must experience everything oneself, an assumption that would be difficult to live by.This method for evaluating right and wrong is easily seen for what it is when the situation above is compared to another at the end of the book.Gaia is called to assist the Matrarc of Sylum s difficult childbirth When it is clear that both mother and child will die without intervention, Gaia sees that she may be able to save the child but that the mother has already lost too much blood to survive The mother tells Gaia to save the child, which she does, and the mother subsequently dies from loss of blood Gaia feels terrible about this because she knew the Matrarc well better than she had known the unborn child and since her understanding of right and wrong is based upon how she feels about it, she determines that because she feels worse, this act is wrong while the previous one was not In her words, the Matrarc has made me a killer for real this time Yet a simple comparison of the two episodes is clear.With Peony Mother and child were going to live, Gaia acted, one died.With the Matrarc Mother and child were going to die, Gaia acted, one lived.Killing and saving are very different things, however bad you may or may not feel about them.RebellionThere are plenty of things about the government of Sylum which are wrong, starting with its presumption that its own laws are legitimate simply because it said so Laws are not automatically right just because they are established by someone in authority Instead, just laws must defend the common good of all the people, and if they do not for example, if they require or approve doing things which no one should ever do, or if they distribute burdens unfairly in favour some groups over others , they are unjust and should be rebelled against.So Gaia is right to rebel against Sylum s unjust laws and customs, such as the inequality of men and women, or the enforcement of some traditions by unnecessarily harsh punishments, or the odd custom of a game winner s right to choose a woman who must spend a month with him But Sylum has some good values too, such as upholding marriage and family so that children can be raised by loving parents, and prohibiting the killing of an unborn child And instead of identifying what is actually wrong or right with each law and value, Gaia writes them all off as the most backward thing she s ever heard Instead of rectifying the unjust laws she claims that laws and values become outdated with time, and throws the good out with the bad.And Leon Oh Leon, what have you become You were such a support to Gaia in book one, as well as being an amazing character in your own right for your ability to learn from your mistakes You re no help at all in book two Sure, you re always questioning Gaia s actions and telling her she s wrong which gives you the impression of being a moral guide, but it leads nowhere because you re just as confused as she is You switch one way and then the other, and then use your power over her feelings to push and pull her in all directions One minute it s quit holding on to some ideal that won t ever fit here and get your life back , but the next they ve broken you you have no spirit to fight any You never help her to look objectively at each thing and discover whether it is right or wrong.Then you are critical of her giving in to the feeling of the moment by kissing Peter, but the next minute you yourself are putting her in a situation of intense physical attraction that she can t resist, just to prove that your hold over her is stronger than his You manipulate her feelings by treating her harshly when you are hurt, and then play up her desire when you re jealous.It s not that as a good character you re not allowed to ever fail and make mistakes, but here your errors are passed over as being excusable and natural, which changes you from being a good character who has failings to being not such a good character at all.RomanceIn fact, the romance in general in this book seems to have lost its richness It is practically all reduced to physical attraction, which is part but not all Between Gaia and Leon in the first book there was a deeper union which involved love of the whole person and sacrifice for the other person s good, and this gave credibility and stability to their attraction Here, however, Gaia s love is selfish and she hardly even thinks of the other person but only how he makes her feel No wonder she s uncertain about marrying Leon, she s worried about whether he ll always be able to make her feel that way But love is than just trying to prolong the feeling that someone gives you It should be something generous and freely given, not bought through the power of attraction I was really impressed with the book The Love Dare and how it shows what it means to love with deeds, wholly and truly It s a little bit corny, but you can skip the religiousy bits and see that its message is accessible to everyone Prized is a lot physical in its description too men playing sport without their shirts so that the women can stare and comment or the description of how far Gaia goes with Leon to the point of too much information this really cheapens their romance , or even just the idea of the games winner getting to pick a girl to spend a month with at the lodge which conveniently facilitates Leon and Gaia s togetherness , and quite a few instant physical attraction moments between Gaia and somebody else In contrast, the chemistry in the first book was so good because it wasn t overdone and was warranted by the storyline rather than being thrown in so often simply for gratification.The romance also seemed a little soppy in this book because suddenly Gaia is the attractive and desirable one, all the guys fall for her and find her irresistible Of course that s every girl s dream, but how does it just happen to someone considered such an outcast in book one The one thing that redeemed the romance was that Gaia was helped to see that kissing Peter meant to him than it did to her, and she must face the wrong she has done him I m only hoping that it wasn t just Sylum s backwardness that believes a kiss means something It would be so good if the story was in fact questioning the attitude wherein a kiss has come to mean little or nothing When we lose our sensitivity like this it damages our ability to love Once again I recommend Wendy Shalit s book A Return to Modesty Discovering the Lost Virtue, she explains this point so well.Bowing before unjust pressureOne last thing I was disappointed with is the lack of positive initiative in the book, something which was so powerful in book one I was so sorry that the unmarried and pregnant Peony was not helped in any other way the baby s father abandoned her, her family would disown her, society would banish her, and Gaia chose not to help her confront these injustices by standing up to Sylum and defending Peony and her unborn child but instead helped her to give in to their pressure by killing the child in secret That wasn t how Gaia dealt with injustice in the first book.In allowing all those negative things to triumph, even offering a long and drawn out justification for it, the book perhaps unintentionally reinforces them If only it had demonstrated a struggle to build an open and supportive attitude towards pregnant women in whatever situation they find themselves, instead of effectively reinforcing the mistaken logic that marginalises such women until they feel pressured into an abortion Our culture has focused enough on the pressure couldn t we now focus on support hide spoiler

  2. says:

    UPDATE 6 10 19 Original review still available below, updates at bottom ORIGINAL REVIEW Oh My Goodness Apparently I m not safe anywhere from this freakin epidemic of YA love triangles squares And that s just the first complaint of many about this sequel Welcome, welcome, one and all to the new face of young adult dystopian fiction prostitutes and sex in the desert First with the second Dust Lands book, elsewise known as Rebel Heart.and we already know my opinion on that piece of trash and now with this thingAh, well Let s take things as they come, shall we We ll save the best for last because, well, this one s a doozy people 1 Villain Or villainess I guess the matriarc of their little society is sort of villain y but she s really just one of those characters who is villainized because of her beliefs, some of which I actually agree on not the thing about the men not being able to vote or whatever, but as far as Gaia and the babiesum, well, let s just get to that one last of all, shall we I m not sure, because there doesn t seem to be a clear focus on conflict in this book There are a lot of tiny little problems that sort of come together to mean something but they are pretty randomly placed Firstlybaby girls are turning into boys in the womb resulting in lack in fertility in men, men who ALSO HAVE UTERUSES Um Okay So, we don t really find out what causes this We know that the characters have guesses about the cause and we know that the air around the lake is all poisoned and drugged or whatever, but how does this actually affect them For a series that was pretty interested in science the first time around, this time it seemed sort of like a huge plot gap Then they randomly mash in Leon again and all those boyfriends and of course innocent little Gaia has NO IDEA WHAT TO DO Gasp Because she LOVES ALL THREE OF THEM SO MUCH Clearly this is a much bigger issue than anything else in the book, so I guess that means it s a conflict But most of the story consists of Gaia ignorantly doing something stupidthen Gaia gets in trouble for breaking the law.then Gaia getting off scott free while other people get punished for her being stupidGaia runs to be comforted by one of her boyfriends until other boyfriend is freedRepeat cycle Plot line does not this make 2 The love square Because apparently these are necessary to sell a book now Gaia not only just has Leon now, she gets two BROTHERS both after her too Lovely Because that was totally necessary First off, her main reason for loving these guys is because how they look and because she s rarely been around another boy in her life who s liked her Let s see what love really is like in this book Leon Yells and screams at what a b tch she is Must be love Peter Cuts his beard Must be love Will Invites her to an autopsy Must be love Ah, yes Certainly Because these guys, in the future, not only have secret OVARIES well, some of them I guess the not fertile onesyou know what I mean but also have no opinion of attractive The first book emphasized Gaia s scar A LOT I mean, the whole basis for the book was on this And in this one it is suddenly MAGICALLY no longer relevant Now, c mon people, Will and Peter know her for what, less than a day each before starting to fall for her What guy does that unless they are either a really attracted to her PHYSICALLY or b Edward Cullen That s right no one Let s face it, these kids are what 16 17 I think Leon s like, 20, maybe, but in guy years thats really like saying 13, sothere we have it What do guys want at this age Is it to settle down with a few kids and be happy with a girl Nope If its anything its to have SEX with her And guys don t want to have sex with girls who aren t attractive I don t CARE if there s a 1 20 ratio or whatever They d all just be gathering around the few queen bees because TEENAGE GUYS ARE LIKE THAT You d have to literally re write their genetics in this already messed up futuristic world to fix that plot hole and I m guessing Ms O Brien didn t really feel like doing that 3 The lack of, I dunno actually DYSTOPIAN aspects of the book Does anyone know what dystopian means as far as fiction goes, class Anyone Anyone Bueller Yeah, well, lemme answer that for you If you thought this book was a good example of dystopian fiction then no, no you do not know what it means Dystopian fiction is supposed to be written based off of current POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SOCIAL ISSUES that might escalate to disastrous proportions one day This book had none of that Boy to girl ratio Umdoes the author REALIZE that the OPPOSITE is currently happening Socheck That s thrown out the window The whole bit of a desert world Hm Well, yes, yes that was used for the growls angrily Dust Lands booksBut lets look at actual research instead of other pieces of fiction Did you know that AGAIN the OPPOSITE IS HAPPENING IN REAL LIFE Holy crap, could it be Did you hear about the polar ice caps melting Hm Unless you ve been living under a flipping ROCK for the past 12 years and skipped out of school where that seems to be the only thing the teachers talk aboutthen yeah You ve prob ly heard about it Unless you live on mars What does this tell us Hmhm She s just another author trying to write dystopian love triangles excuse me Squares Because that s SO much original To try and rival the Hunger Games fad Like that s ever going to work It would be like trying to write a series about wizards and saying honestly you re not trying to cop off of Harry Potter or a space adventure that s not based off of Star Trek or Star Wars Clearly since those two already rival one another, there is NO ROOM for a third wheel See SOME people can get it right No threesomes here, folks 4 Total and utter lack of originality UmPlot line As I said WAS THERE ONE I m not sure I kept waiting and waiting.but I never found it It took me TOO LONG to finish this book and I m not actually sure if I read the thing or not I repressed the memory, honestly Besides the happenings ofweirdness to try and be original, there was nothing well done about this book At the risk of sounding too modern here, everything that she wrote about HAS BEEN DONE ALREADY Eugenics Done that It s called Brave New World people, and that s not a meme, it s a book Well, maybe its a meme, I dunno I already, of course, talked about the rip offs of the Blood Red Road bitsOh, and the whole illegal kissing thingWhen has that NOT been done We have the basics not society forbidden but technically forbidden Romeo and Juliet Then there s 1984 where it s legally not allowed and then there s just about every other love story written on the face of the planet Agh People need to experience real life Then they may, just may, realize that life and love DOES NOT HAPPEN LIKE THIS Then there s the whole Let s hide out in the wilderness and defy the system and blah blah blahBAM LOVE Heard of The Host It s a movie AND A BOOK AND ITS WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR OF TWILIGHT If there s anyone whose example you DON T want to follow, its hers And the BASIS of the society she runs away from The whole they re taking our children bit Umheard of the tithes in Unwind or, perhaps AGAIN The Hunger Games HmmMight want to check that out 5 The codes Yes Those little funsie codes that sorta made sense in the first one the code that had all of the kids names in it The one on the ribbon or whatever But when a super secret but totally predictable code showed up AGAIN in this one.I think my brain exploded So, let s seeWe have a little secret code here that might have the answers to all of these people s problems in it and NONE OF THEM ARE SMART ENOUGH TO FIGURE IT OUT EXCEPT FOR GAIA Just No If you remember, she didn t exactly ever meet her grandma, so its not as if she had some secret knowledge that helped her and Leon figure it out And it has been YEARS since ole granny left so these people musta known Gaia s grandmother better than she did And if no one figured out to check out the grandma s notes to self after her..shall we call it STRANGE death just because matriarc said so Well.the matriarc said no autopsies and that didn t stop Will and Gaia, so.I think my point s made 6 Ready for this Are you sure I don t think you are Member how I was talking about Our Little Witch Gaia s character issues Well, I mentioned it a bit, but I had to save it all up for this bit because it will BLOW YOUR MIND ACROSS THE ROOM Oh, and by the way spoiler alert If you hadn t picked up on that already So, remember how Gaia got caught in the first one trying to save a baby by cutting it out of the mother after the mother was hanged Member that Yeah Kay So, she s Miss Important and Knowledgable cuz she s a midwife Ya know how midwives are supposed to, I dunno, PROTECT BABIES Well, I guess Gaia s exempt from this because she wait for iiiiiiittt HELPS A GIRL GET AN ABORTION In the future When they don t have a lot of girl babies and might NEED this baby for survival But, of course, its all okay because the poor girl wouldn t have a FATHER to help her RAISE the baby RightLet s protect women s rights because that s SO IMPORTANT WHEN SOCIETY IS DYING OFF Not only does the author portray it as an okay thing to do not like we re pushing a social agenda or anything but Peony the girl who gets the abortion has NO SIDE EFFECTS AT ALL Hm I think we just hit an all time low for lack of research Peony s body was getting ready to carry a baby That means HORMONES Yay So when the baby is suddenly gone and those cells keep dividing quicklywe get what s called CANCER Wow Amazing Biology really does teach you stuff Now, Ms O Brien s opinions are her own But its just not acceptable to market this sort of book to young adult girls telling them that abortion s okay when its not her right to try and convince them like that Did you know that abortion is killing both the baby AND the mother because about 21% of women about either try to or actually do commit suicide after abortions Hmm Wow And an even larger percent about 40 suffer from depression 94% of women say they regret their abortions There we go Look it up people Let s allow young and impressionable minds to form their OWN opinions for once, shall we Gaia s waffling between well, was it okay and was it not and then ultimately deciding that abortion s all happy and fine as long as the mother wants it is like brainwashing Because readers will want to like Gaia and pity Gaia and agree with her blah blah blah Well, let s go back to point 1 people Our villainess The eeeevvviiillll lady in Gaia s eyes She doesn t APPROVE of abortions Oooooh That makes herwhat, exactly Could it be that she has a better moral compass than Gaia Sure, she has a little trouble with the whole guy gal equality thing, but is she killing people Uhno Not really Could adjustments to their society be made Sure But not like that And finally, on Gaia s moral issues Let s take a look at the end of the story when the matriarc s giving birth for the what EIGHTH time and, of course because we can t have someone who disagrees with Gaia around, is going to die giving childbirth And Gaia can either save neither the matriarc or the baby or save the baby Well, based off her opinions on abortion, why d she BOTHER AT ALL Let the baby die, Gaia, no one would blame you after what this eeevvviiillll woman did Sure She imprisoned someone who did something that was AGAINST THEIR LAW So sue her Do we have stupid laws in the US Yes I have a LIST But imprisoning someone who breaks the law no matter HOW STUPID IT IS Doesn t make them a bad person And, one last point, answer me this If Gaia figured out how they can LEAVE this toxic evil whatever area, why didn t she just stand up and say Hey, anyone who agrees with me on a, b, and c and thinks this place is unfair, come with me And then whoever wanted to stay could and whoever wanted to leave could Wow Was that such a big deal Problem solved REVIEW EDIT Okay people This has, well, not nothing to do with this book because that was what I was going to say, but it s a lie It actually has to do with the NEXT book And don t worry This won t be a total spoiler, but anywhoI checked it out of the library because, I dunno, my brain is dumb and I need to finish a series in order to sleep well at night I guess Maybe Yes, well, I opened it up randomly on accident read two lines, and then closed it again, because it just really wasn t worth it I could have written a whole review off of those two lines, but I won t You want to know what they were view spoiler Person 1 You tried to knife me Person 2 You stole my ovaries hide spoiler

  3. says:

    Actual rating 4.5 stars.I am very surprised about this book It was very interesting the whole time It made me feel angry so many times towards Gaia and her attitude about everything that was going on that I became frustrated I love a book that awakens strong emotions in me I enjoyed it so much I liked the first book of this series, but Prized is defenetetly an improvement from the first installment This story is complex, it evolves fluidly and maintains your attention at all times I have to say though, that Leon s character disappointed me a bit this time I was expecting a deeper development in him, explanations to really show us who he is and where he is coming from.One of the thins I appreciate most, is that this series is not immature, it doesn t have a high school or childiss felling to it even though it is a young adult novel, thus it could function just as well if we where to age the characters I can t wait to see where the story is going next.Book 1 Birthmarked 3.5 starsBook 3 Promised 2.5 stars

  4. says:

    It seems fitting that I devoured Prized on Valentine s Day as if it were a box of chocolate but this book was so much better than chocolate to me.I don t think a book in recent memory has made me dread or hope as much as this one did Prized made my heart a knotted mess, and then slowly painfully the knots began to untangle and leave me even stricken.This book and its predecessor Birthmarked are so much than run of the mill YA dystopian novels They are rife with important topics and even some criticisms the merit of choice for women, their bodies, and their love lives the shades of sexism that can lead to one sex dominating over the other and the truth that difficult circumstances ultimately try who you are, what you believe, and who you will become.I love Gaia, the heroine, for being a confused sixteen year old who is still sensible, honest, and free willed than most heroines in YA today.I love Leon, the hero, for not being the perfect guy, the be all and end all for Gaia He has deep layers and dark shades, but he is not the bad boy stereotype many of us have come to loathe.I love that their romance is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, yet always passionate.I love the story for speaking out about so many important things in quiet and subtle ways.And I love Caragh O Brien for giving me these books that I ll want to devour again and again Please keep challenging me, making me ponder, making me fall in love with your characters in both their good moments and their bad You even have permission to break my heart with your words and your characters as you did with this installment , so long as you offer enough hope for me to piece my heart back together again.I wait with an anxious and dread and hope filled heart for the third book, Promised, and can only hope that the characters I have come to love will reach the places they need to be.

  5. says:

    If the debut book in a series is even semi good, I will continue with a series I understand that it is hard for a debut book in a series to knock my socks off because you have significant amount of world building, and brand new characters to introduce Usually, the plot is deep in the book and so I know patience is the key Why I wanted to read book 2 in the Birthmarked series I liked book 1 but I did not love it I did like the 2nd half and because I thought it had potential, I wanted to see where the author was going with the story Knowing that I liked the 2nd half of book 1, I figured that book 2 would continue where the 2nd half left off.Sadly, I was wrong I m not sure why, but the author chose to start all over again Book 2 is essentially a completely different book than book 1 Brand new characters, brand new location, and brand new world building.Now, hold on before you get all your undies in a bunch, I do know that Gaia ended up at the new location because she escaped the Enclave But for the life of me, I do not understand why the author chose to create an entirely new world with new rules, a new set of problems, and called it the 2nd book in the same series It s one thing to move locations It s an entirely different thing to move dystopian worlds And yes, I hear your arguments But Michelle, if the author wants to create a new dystopian world in her book 2 that is her business Well that is good and all, but at least build your world that is why it is called world building Have this new world make sense, and not be pieced together via information dump by various characters Oh and don t get me started regarding these characters.Gaia What a horrible character she turned out to be She reminds me of a 10 year old rather than a strong female heroine She was whiny yeah, I know I m whiny too but I m also not the lead in a book , selfish, indecisive, and pretty damn stupid in her decisions.Leon What the hell Why would the author do this to Leon I m not talking about what happens to Leon in this book but what happens to his personality Seriously, Leon is basically a new character in this book.All the other ridiculous characters in the book I honestly believed that the author wrote her story and inserted the characters after the fact She created flat, boring, one dimensional characters out of a need to move the story along with a complete disregard to the overall impact those characters would make on the reader They were either boring or just well boring.I was so frustrated with this book Even writing this review is difficult because it makes me want to rant and considering my writing while calm is a bit rough, my writing while ranting is an adventure in itself thus, I ll edit this later when my frustration dies down again.

  6. says:

    Prized continues the story of Gaia Stone, a 16 year old midwife and refugee from the Enclave Accompanied by her newborn sister Maya, Gaia is found out in the wastelands by Chardo Peter Both Gaia and her baby sister are close to death She finds herself in Sylum, which is just as bad as Enclave only it is run by women.Sylum is a strange settlement In Sylum, the men outnumber the women, but the women have all the power Sylum is a puritanical place A simple kiss can result in an attempted rape charge Women are encouraged to marry young and have at least ten babies Oh, and once you arrive in Sylum, you can never leave This book was not exactly what I expected I enjoyed the world the author created in Birthmarked and I was excited to see what would happen next in Prized Prized felt like a completely different book New world, new rules, and Gaia does the teenage angst thing Gaia s rebellious streak bothered me it just felt like she chose the wrong battles I also found it odd that after working so hard to save her sister, Gaia would just accept that a complete stranger should raise Maya I m not sure if I liked Gaia in this book as much as I did in the previous book Gaia acts like a petulant child in this book She refuses to cooperate with the Matrarch Olivia, preferring to be isolated rather than solving her problems When she is given a note from Leon, she destroys it instead of reading it I saw that as a betrayal I also did not like her behavior around the men While Gaia did not really understand the customs of Sylum, she still caused a few misunderstandings I didn t really like the introduction of multiple love interests Leon I missed him so much Then, when he finally gets to be around Gaia, the tension between them was so antagonistic Leon was hardened and angry, nothing like the Leon of the previous book He felt like a whole new character Leon earns the respect of Sylum when he wins a sporting contest When we finally get Leon, the story picks up The book was an OK read for me I did like it and I will continue to look for books by this author Thank you Netgalley and McMillian Children s Publishing Group for a review copy of this book.Check out this review and on Badass Book Reviews

  7. says:

    I m really giving this book a 3.5 between liked and really liked because I really did like it but there were a lot of things that bothered me about it.THIS REVIEW WILL MOST LIKELY CONTAIN SPOILERS IN ORDER TO MAKE SENSE.My biggest problem with Prized is I felt it was a totally different book from Birthmarked None of the characters were the same Gaia is supposed to be this strong young woman who stands up for what she believes While she does redeem herself at the end, I found that she gave up to too easily in giving up her sister, in not standing up to Olivia, in not convincing Peony to believe in what s right, and in letting Leon tell her everything she s doing wrong and not defending herself, among other things I know the story is about Gaia losing herself for a while, but she s not the character that I loved in the first book And Leon, the one who was so sweet and caring and the one who sacrificed everything for her is such a cold jerk Again, I know it was because he was hurt, but he was just SO mean.The other thing that I didn t like about this book was the romance involved I started reading the book thinking Where in the world is Leon and who are these random new guys Why, oh why, did you put a love triangle no, make that rectangle in the mix I didn t like how Gaia s role switched from being the ugly duckling in the first book to being a very desirable woman in the second book And I didn t like how the O Brien had to involve BOTH Will and Peter If she was going to introduce an interest, just put one Will was just kind of thrown in there And so was the relationship with Adele It felt out of place and unnecessary.I also don t understand what s going on with Peter Yes, she likes him, but I don t that he kissed her and we re left with the assumption that he did it to almost force her into choosing him So after she decides she doesn t think she s right for him, he treats her the same way Leon had treated her, after he scolded Leon about it I know he s hurt, but I thought he was a better character, and those two things just made me dislike him.I also wished that O Brien gave us a happy ending where the series could have ended I know the third installment is probably going to consist of the group going back to the Enclave, but I hope it s just her having the courage to tell Leon how she feels Really, I don t want them to take one step forward and then two steps back in the third book where he ll be she loves me, she loves me not I also have a feeling this may not be the last of Peter and Will that we see pulling her emotional strings Leon and Gaia have been through so much together, I just hope that a love triangle won t be thrown in just to keep drama there.Otherwise, I think the book was good, and I enjoyed reading it I like O Brien s style, and the dialogue wasn t cheesy or anything I also like that she tried to introduce a new concept women being in charged but also not in a way of the s The men weren t treated equal, but other than the part about Josephine treating Leon in the cabin, the men weren t being treated like servants.I just wish there were some things that would have been done differently I know I m not the author, but I just hope that this wasn t extra drama to bridge the first book with the third and maybe last.

  8. says:

    The trouble with the first book in a trilogy rocking your world is that, as much as you anticipate the first opportunity you get to read its sequel, you simultaneously fear that it won t live up to how much you enjoyed the first Sadly, in PRIZED s case, this was true Whereas I couldn t put Birthmarked down, I struggled at times to push myself through PRIZED s copious use of info dumps and inconsistencies in characterization and plot that really pushed the limit on my tolerance of YA lit clich s.I read Birthmarked in one night, forgoing sleep in my complete absorption within the Enclave and my desperation to discover the fates of these beloved characters Unfortunately, I did not feel as invested in PRIZED Perhaps rereading Birthmarked would have helped, but I also felt like PRIZED veered off in an entirely different direction little but the names of the main characters carried over from the first book into the second, with the result that PRIZED had to create for us an entirely new dystopian world and not necessarily with complete success.The rules of Sylum are explained to readers mostly through tell all conversations with little plot and nothing concrete to tie all the Sylum related facts that are unloaded onto readers in one fell swoop after another I felt like the motivations for various characters actions were never fully illustrated Why did the Matrarc demand such rigid obeisance to their society s rules Why was Gaia so insistent on defending her actions without fully considering their impact on herself and those around her Why did she so strictly divide public opinion regarding her when she doesn t really do anything at all For that matter, why is Gaia so appealing to everyone If you thought love triangles were getting a bit ridiculous in YA lit, wait until you catch a whiff of this book s love square Sure, readers love when the protagonist is loved by someone who sees the beauty in them despite her awkwardness incompetence insecurity, but Gaia s situation felt like extreme overkill, like an intervened twist in the story purely for reader gratification The utter unnaturalness of the situation really prevented me from becoming emotionally and intellectually invested in the story.PRIZED unfortunately seemed to cut corners in explanation of character motivation or plot progression With little to no relevance to the first book, except through the recurrence of a handful of characters and a promise at the end of a reconnection in the last installment, this could have been an entirely different YA dystopian series not exactly what you want from the second book in a trilogy I think I ll still read the last book, if only to see how Sylum and the Enclave tie back together, but overall it was a rather large disappointment.

  9. says:

    Prized is a hard book to give a rating to that reflects its quality On the one hand there are a few things that are very well done, such as the idea of a matriarchal society truth is, I don t think there are any YA books that explore this idea and the gradual way Caragh M O Brien transforms Gaia from a headstrong leader into a submissive follower However, there are some things that prevented me from giving it the five stars I wanted to.I ll start with those to get them out of the way Throughout the story there are three guys declaring their undying love for Gaia You heard me Three Still, it s not that ridiculous if you place it in the context of Sylum s matriarchal society where the men outnumber the women nine to one.What irritates me is that Gaia becomes a pile of mush and is plagued by guilt from the desire she feels for the other two whenever she s near one of them Um, who are you and what have you done to the Gaia who never lets anyone tell her what she wants Plus, there was absolutely no need for this angst because even the most clueless reader could guess Leon would turn out to be the lucky guy.And now for the things I liked Unlike with Birthmarked, this time round I felt connected to the characters The writing seemed to have improved, really drawing me into the story and enabling me to relate to characters so than the first book I realized this when I almost threw the book when Gaia gives in to the Matrarc s demands Believe me, there s nothing worse than reading about a strong heroine who has to submit and put herself under another s power From that point on the story flowed smoothly and I read it right to the end in one sitting.The word abortion is never mentioned throughout the whole book, not even once, which is very crafty especially since this is one of the main themes of the book I love how Gaia s view is neither for or against it and believes the choice is ultimately up to the mother.With this kind of controversial issue it s always best to have an open mind relative to the situation if she had taken an absolute stance on something like this that s neither black or white, as we saw in Birthmarked, she wouldn t be the Gaia we know and love.All in all, Prized is a well rounded book that in some ways is better than Birthmarked and in others falls short Nevertheless it s a solid continuation of the series and I will definitely be reading the next book.

  10. says:

    Warning This will contain some spoilers for Birthmarked that will probably make no sense if you haven t read it But be warned.4 5 StarsI remember liking Birthmarked by Caragh M O Brien I remember the basic plotline girl midwife in a dystopian society where they re taking babies from the poor and advancing them to the rich Girl discovers flaws of society, rebels, story ensues This is how Dystopians tend to go and I ve read a lot of them now But I very much remember liking this one, as vague as that memory has become because the piles of books I ve read since.So when I saw Prized on Netgalley I felt obligated to request it Then I started to worry that I wouldn t remember enough about book 1 to read book 2.Luckily, that was not the case Prized started out great, throwing me immediately back into Gaia s story without forcing me to read a lot of backstory Not remembering was OKAY because the story kept moving forward I was relieved The first chapter rocked, fast paced, throwing life or death risks and new problems at me immediately.Then there were a couple chapters where I m not going to lie, this book made me nervous I get a little worried when I feel like an author s politics are showing It s a little like your bra strap sneaking a peak to the world There s a place for your politics and just like a bra there s a way to use them wisely and subtly that really makes an impact I m not going to play coy with you because I really think you re smarter than that Because this book involves a midwife, it s the abortion issue I like books that broach these issues with enough sensitivity that neither side of the debate is off put by the conversation And books bringing up the topics need to be conversational and less soapbox.I quickly realized it was not so much the issue itself that bothered me, but the introduction and execution felt a little clunky and deus ex machina in my opinion Gaia has just arrived somewhere new She s there for less than 2 days when this young lady approaches her about helping with a miscarriage Nobody knows Gaia and there s no time spent building that trust or her reputation as a midwife It s just thrown at you a little too quickly It does become integral to the plot, but like I said it needs to be executed better.Then I nearly went into panic mode when I thought there was going to be a long drawn out love square But thankfully Leon from the first book appeared and that shifted the balance of the book very quickly He was angry at Gaia, a little bit bitter, and a huge reality check for our main character His character s words and story gave me the most guttural reaction, almost bringing tears really.From there I was engrossed and everything started clicking in place for me Gaia saw herself, her flaws and her mistakes for the first time and had to face her own selfish behavior Most YA heroines have a selfish streak as do most teenagers most people but rarely is that acknowledged Once this book hit it s stride I stayed up past midnight reading, but oddly not for Gaia but because my heart ached for Leon He brought an honesty and bite that stopped the love square woe in it s tracks He called her out, spoke the truth and for me made this book.In the end I liked this book and will look forward to the next in the series For the most part it s an intelligent dystopian, with flawed main characters that are human than we re used to I really like that aspect, really like the balance between the two main characters and am glad I stuck with the book through my doubts.

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