Book Description from the ARC:
ARC, 356 pages
November 8, 2011, Roaring Brook Press
Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old 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 social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?
Source: Roaring Brook Press (Thank you!)
From Enclave, Gaia ventured into the Dead Forest, a place beyond the wasteland rumored to have a community within its trees. She and her sister, Maya, barely survived the tiredness and starvation when a stranger had rescued them. Gaia woke up in Sylum. She was shocked at how different it was. It was ran by Matrarc, a blind 30-something woman who could make you trust her with your life, with the truth. The men showed unquestioning obedience. But what really caught her off guard were the strange laws enforced in Sylum. Men and women were not allowed to kiss and have any physical contact before marriage.
I loved Gaia even more in Prized. She has become smarter, stronger and more confident. With the Matrarc suppressing her, she has learned to fight in her own silent way. Stubborn as ever, she refused to give up her beliefs. But when resisting and rebelling got her nowhere, she decided to change tactics. The Matrarc was strong, stiff and strict when it came to ruling. She may have found her match in Gaia. After Maya, Gaia’s baby sister, was taken by the Matrarc and given to another family who will care for her, Gaia was heartbroken, helpless. She strived to prove that she was trustworthy and responsible to care for Maya.
In Sylum, where women were outnumbered and treasured, Gaia has found her place. The scar on her cheek was forgotten, unseen by the people. Her beauty inside and her charm radiated, making her catch the eyes of two brothers: Peter and Will. Peter was the one who rescued and brought her to Sylum. He was simple, peaceful and dedicated. Above all, he exuded happiness. Will was the smart, gentle and curious brother. He shared theories and secrets with her. But will the two brothers distract her from what her heart really wanted? Leon, the guy who helped her and grew close to her in Enclave, came back in her life, with marks from the past and the drive to do anything for her. But this kind of Leon was darker, ominous. I loved the complexity of his relationship with Gaia. It was very realistic.
The writing as usual was superb. There was something magical with O’Brien’s writing. She could tell the simplest thing and make it beautiful and unforgettable. Gaia’s voice came out as distinct, sometimes wavering, and sometimes firm. Throughout the novel, it became a crystal clear reflection into Gaia’s psyche and into the struggles of other characters.
Prized is a perfectly-written, fascinating, bittersweet and addicting dystopian. Better than Birthmarked, I would give this 6/5 if I could. I highly recommend this series to dystopian fans!