Striking 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, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?
Prized is the sequel to Birthmarked, a dystopian novel about a community where children are removed from the outer walls of the city and brought into the Enclave. In this book, we see Gaia making her way through the wastelands with her baby sister and into the refuge of Sylum, a completely different community. Here, women are in charge and Gaia must submit to the laws or be cast out to die.
This book had a completely different feel from Birthmarked. It seemed to have lightened up for the most part with a little less violence and pain for Gaia. Although Sylum isn't perfect, there's an uneasy sense of comfort and security while Gaia is living there- much different from the panic and chaos within the wall of the Enclave. There's still an 'evil' figure head, the magistrar, who envokes a definite dislike from the reader, and yet must be obeyed in order for there to be peace. A huge condunrum for Gaia who doesn't take orders lightly.
We're introduced to a tremendous amount of new characters in this book, all of whom play an important part in the story. It was comforting to see that these new faces stuck with you throughout the book and weren't minor people thrown in. I was a little disheartened by the romance aspect however- instead of a love triangle you get a love square! I felt like it would have been better if Gaia only had interest in two men, but instead develops feelings for three. Just a tad overwhelming if you ask me.
The plot of this story worked perfectly into this trilogy. There's still the political struggle, just in a new setting, and the urge of rebellion that really gets the heart pumping. O'Brien incorporates a new mystery for Gaia and Leon to solve in this story as well, which was definitely fun trying to solve and sets a tone of urgency as well. It was also nice not leaving off on a cliffhanger for once, there's more to the story to be told, but with Prized there is a sense of finality at the end (at least for this part of the story).