Promised (Birthmarked Trilogy)

Promised - Caragh M. O'Brien My friend, Zoe from In The Next Room, originally introduced me to this series, and I'm so glad that she did. :) I've loved getting to experience Gaia's struggles and seeing how she overcomes everything that comes in her way.This is a series where each book is pretty much distinct on its own. The characters are all there, they all involve power struggles, and they do proceed chronologically, but each of these books are so intense and so full of struggle within themselves that it's almost like they're completely separate...and only come together to tell an even bigger story. That being said, I do think that they've all shown a huge amount of growth for Gaia, and they've shown her coming into herself. The reader also gets to see the way that society around Gaia is shifting and how it changes as she and others make an active effort to make a difference.Along with the fantastic characters, the biggest thing that I love about this series is how expansive it is. I love that we get a lot of character development, and we also get an extremely defined world. The second book, Prized, takes place in a setting other than the Enclave, and I still felt that Caragh M. O'Brien fully developed the world. She does an extraordinary job at describing the settings in a way where the reader can actually visualize Gaia's surroundings and it feels as if you're really seeing everything as Gaia does.I was really not expecting Promised to end the way that it did, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. It had some extremely sad and desolate moment. While they had me crying and experiencing Gaia's pain, I couldn't help but be moved by it all, especially by Gaia's strength to overcome all that happens to her...including situations that would make most of us crumble in a ball of self-pity rather than fight it. :P While Gaia's ending may not be the happiest one I've ever experienced, it is incredibly realistic for the situation she was in. I also loved that Leon was there for her...she may not have gotten the perfect happy ending, but I still felt that she at least had a semblance of what I wanted for her.I absolutely loved both this book, and this entire trilogy! I'd recommend the Birthmarked trilogy to dystopian fans who want a realistic depiction of a world very different from our own, and to readers who like dynamic female narrators.