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3.88 / 5

"Birthmarked" Summary

By Caragh M. O'Brien

young adult | 361 pages | Published in 2010

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A midwife defies a dystopian society to uncover the truth about her world.

Table of Contents


"Birthmarked" by Caragh M. O'Brien is a captivating dystopian novel set in a future society where the privileged live within the confines of the Enclave, while the less fortunate struggle to survive in the world beyond its walls. The story follows 16-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, as she navigates the challenges of her environment and uncovers the truth about her society.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The story unfolds in the desolate world of Wharfton, where Gaia Stone, a skilled midwife, lives with her parents and younger siblings. As a midwife, Gaia's role is to deliver babies and then hand them over to the Enclave, the ruling class that lives within the safety of the walls. However, when her parents are suddenly arrested by the Enclave, Gaia's world is turned upside down. Determined to uncover the truth about their disappearance, Gaia embarks on a journey that leads her to question everything she has ever known.


The novel is primarily set in the harsh and unforgiving environment of Wharfton, a world marked by scarcity, poverty, and struggle. The stark contrast between the Enclave and the world beyond its walls serves as a poignant backdrop for the unfolding narrative.

Main Characters

The novel features several key characters who play significant roles in the story.

Gaia StoneA determined and resourceful 16-year-old midwife who sets out to uncover the truth about her society and her family's fate.
Leon GreyA young man from the Enclave who forms an unexpected alliance with Gaia as they navigate the challenges they face.
Captain GreyThe formidable head of the Enclave's guards, whose actions have a profound impact on Gaia's life.
Mrs. GreyThe enigmatic and influential leader of the Enclave, whose secrets hold the key to Gaia's quest for the truth.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5

Gaia, a skilled midwife, delivers a baby and prepares to hand it over to the Enclave, but her life takes a drastic turn when her parents are arrested. Determined to find them, she sets out on a perilous journey, encountering unexpected allies and adversaries along the way.

Chapter 6-10

Gaia's quest for the truth leads her to the heart of the Enclave, where she uncovers shocking secrets about its inner workings. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she grapples with the complexities of her own identity and the true nature of the society she lives in.

Chapter 11-15

As Gaia's investigation intensifies, she faces increasing danger and deception, testing her resolve and resourcefulness. Her encounters with key figures in the Enclave shed light on the dark underbelly of their society and the sacrifices made to maintain their way of life.

Chapter 16-20

The revelations Gaia uncovers challenge her perceptions and beliefs, forcing her to confront difficult choices and the harsh realities of the world she inhabits. Her alliance with unexpected allies brings her closer to the truth but also puts her in jeopardy.

Chapter 21-25

As the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, Gaia's determination to uncover the truth is put to the ultimate test. She navigates treacherous terrain and confronts powerful adversaries, leading to a dramatic climax that will change her world forever.

Main Events

  • Gaia's parents are arrested by the Enclave, setting her on a quest to uncover the truth.
  • Gaia infiltrates the Enclave and learns shocking secrets about its operations and the fate of the babies she delivers.
  • Gaia forms an alliance with Leon Grey, a young man from the Enclave, as they work together to unravel the mysteries surrounding their society.
  • Gaia confronts powerful figures within the Enclave, unearthing the dark truths that have been concealed from the world outside.
  • The dramatic climax sees Gaia's perseverance and courage put to the ultimate test as she confronts the forces that have shaped her world.

Themes and Insights


  1. Social Inequality: The stark divide between the Enclave and the outside world highlights the themes of privilege and disparity, shedding light on the impact of social inequality on individuals and communities.
  2. Identity and Self-Discovery: Gaia's journey prompts introspection and self-discovery as she grapples with her role in society and confronts the truth about her origins.
  3. Power and Control: The Enclave's pursuit of power and control drives the narrative, exploring the consequences of unchecked authority and the sacrifices made to maintain dominance.


The novel offers compelling insights into the human experience, exploring the complexities of identity, the resilience of the human spirit, and the enduring pursuit of truth and justice in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers will be captivated by Gaia's courageous journey as she confronts the realities of her society, unearths shocking truths, and forges unexpected alliances. The exploration of themes such as social inequality, identity, and power will resonate with readers, prompting reflection and dialogue.


"Birthmarked" offers a riveting and thought-provoking narrative that delves into the complexities of a dystopian society, the resilience of the human spirit, and the enduring quest for truth and justice. Caragh M. O'Brien's compelling storytelling and richly developed characters make this novel a compelling read for fans of dystopian fiction and thought-provoking narratives.

Birthmarked FAQ

  1. What is 'Birthmarked' about?

    Birthmarked is a dystopian novel set in a future society where a young midwife, Gaia, becomes involved in a dangerous conspiracy after the baby she delivered is taken by the government.

  2. Who is the author of 'Birthmarked'?

    Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of 'Birthmarked'.

  3. Is 'Birthmarked' part of a series?

    Yes, 'Birthmarked' is the first book in a trilogy, followed by 'Prized' and 'Promised'.

  4. What genre does 'Birthmarked' belong to?

    'Birthmarked' belongs to the young adult dystopian fiction genre.

  5. Is 'Birthmarked' suitable for young readers?

    While 'Birthmarked' is a young adult novel, it does contain themes of dystopian society, rebellion, and survival, so parental discretion is advised.