Book Review: Promised

Promised brings Caragh O’Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy to a close. Seventeen-year-old Gaia fled into the wasteland to escape the Enclave, but now she’s on her way back. Returning could mean imprisonment or worse, but Gaia has to take that chance. Survival depends on it. She has a group of refugees counting on her to work some kind of deal with the Enclave to secure a water supply.

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Leon betrayed the Enclave so Gaia could escape and nearly paid for it with his life. He suffered through prison and the wasteland so he could be with her, and his concern for her safety causes tension between them. So does Gaia’s reluctance to make a commitment to him. They also have very different ideas about how to broker a deal with the Enclave. Gaia wants to negotiate. Leon insists they’ll have to use a more aggressive approach.

The Enclave is desperate to find a solution for their genetic problems. They’re willing to make a deal with the refugees, but what they want from Gaia in exchange for a water supply is too disturbing to contemplate. It could also mean sacrificing a future with Leon. With only a two-day supply of water left, Gaia has to make a choice. If she can’t convince the Enclave to change their minds, does she have what it takes to start a revolution?

O’Brien touches on the challenges of leadership—that it isn’t about control but about listening to the wisdom of others and relying on their strengths. She also touches on some tough issues like fertility, a mother’s rights, and acts of war versus acts of terrorism. Promised is a thoughtful exploration into the choices we make and how they affect the lives around us.

The trilogy is best enjoyed if read in order starting with Birthmarked. Two short stories related to the trilogy are also available.

©2012 Kim Vandel

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