Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien

Note: This review contains no spoilers of Promised, but does contain spoilers of the first book in the series, Birthmarked, a review of which can be found here, and the second book Prized, a review of which can be found here
Promised (Birthmarked #3) by Caragh M. O'Brien

Release Date
: October 2nd 2012
Pages: 304
Format: E-galley
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Also by this Author: Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1); Tortured (Birthmarked #1.5); Prized (Birthmarked #2)
Buy It: Book Depository
After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.
What a satisfying ending to an incredible trilogy! Probably the strangest thing about the first two books in the Birthmarked Trilogy, Birthmarked and Prized, is how different they are. They pretty much tell two entirely disconnected stories so that even though I enjoyed both of them immensely, I sorta wondered what they were doing together. Promised answers that question, and brings the whole series together in a way that makes sense. It's also an action-packed and emotional journey, but completely worthwhile.

One of my complaints about Prized was that I felt Gaia, who had been such an incredibly strong main character in the first book, just didn't have the same power behind her. Even though there were reasons for that, I missed the Gaia from Birthmarked and I'm happy to report that she's back in full force in Promised. However, there were a few times when Gaia had me scratching my head, especially when it came to the romance, including her relationship with Leon.

Because the two worlds, Sylum and the Enclave, meet up, there are a lot of characters in the novel, some of whom I probably would have remember better and cared more about if I hadn't been picking up the novels nearly a year apart. Still, I definitely liked knowing how everyone ended up and what I'd missed while Gaia was busy elsewhere in Prized.

Promised has drama and emotion, plus lots of character development. Still, even though it was a technically perfect book three, there was something about it that just didn't have quite the spark of Birthmarked which is definitely my favourite book of the trilogy, or even Prized. I wonder if part of it is that with the romance settled, the major source of tension for Gaia is far more external, which means there's a bit more distance between the reader and her struggle. It is only near the end of the novel that this struggle becomes incredibly personal to Gaia, and that was the part of the book that had the most impact on me. There definitely some moments with Gaia that left me near tears.

As always, O'Brien has written a really unique story with plenty of twists and Promised provides a great end to an action-packed and emotional trilogy. Definitely one of my favourite dystopian series!

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