Spoilers for book one in the series, Birthmarked, ahead!
[description from goodreads]
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?
I enjoyed this book's predecessor, Birthmarked, a surprisingly large amount so it was with great excitement that I finally tore in to Prized. Although I didn't like it quite as much as book one, I still enjoyed it and can't wait to read the series' conclusion.
Prized seems almost like the start to a whole new series; because of the drastic change in setting, the world-building must begin anew. However, I found Sylum to be just as greatly developed as the Enclave in Birthmarked. I found it to be a refreshing setting compared to the dystopian societies included in the slew of current apocalyptic YA, and I liked it even more for its always surprising nature. The people Gaia encounters in Sylum often seem similar because their roles are so limited, but despite their similarities, they always manage to bring information about a rule or tradition in Sylum that changes Gaia's plans about what to do with her time there. I especially liked Gaia's presence in this society, because she's so different from the rest of them that it's impossible for her not to clash with the rulers and seek out the truth about their often misguided practices.
However, the fact that this book seemed like a different series also hurt it for me. The action in this book took a while to get going because of all the required exposition, but even once it began I was never really sure what the larger point was. Series typically have different problems in individual books but one overarching issue (Harry Potter has to deal with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix but still has the problem of Voldemort too, for example) as well. I'm still not sure what the overarching problem in this series is, let alone its role in Prized. For this reason I found it very disconnected in terms of it being a second book in a series, even though I did always enjoy it for what it is.
Although it feels sadly disconnected from Birthmarked, I still liked Prized for its original new setting and consistent action, and I'm excited to see where Gaia goes in the next installment.
Book details: Roaring Book Press/Hardcover/$16.99
Source: sent by publisher for review