Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.
Gaia carries an encoded ribbon from her parents, and its secrets hold vital information about certain advanced children who were "birthmarked" by tattoos. The Protectorat, who safeguards the population within the wall, needs Gaia’s code and its genetic counterpart to offset the hemophilia that plagues the Enclave.
Sgt. Grey, a young, handsome guard of the Enclave, is used by the Protectorat to manipulate Gaia and gain her cooperation with decoding the ribbon. As Sgt. Grey faces his own complicated past and Gaia recognizes the moral ramifications of her actions, they take desperate steps to escape.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code. [super-long summary from Goodreads]
Two words (again): DYSTOPIAN LIT. Oh my gosh. I first heard about this from Sharon, back when it was tentatively titled The Baby Code, and I've been waiting desperately for it to have a cover so that I could choose it as a Waiting on Wednesday feature. This seems utterly perfect: the dystopian setting, a strong-sounding though physically flawed heroine, a hint of a romance. And that cover, while not exactly what I'd imagined, is reminiscent of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, which has a similar premise about the value placed on outer beauty, so in this sense the cover is a good choice, as it will attract Westerfeld fans. March 2010, can you come soon?
Birthmarked will be published in hardcover by Roaring Brook Press on March 30, 2010.