11/2011 Re-read, since the sequel's out. I liked it just as well the second time through.6/2010 One can't help but be powerfully reminded in some ways of Atwood's masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale by this dystopian midwife's tale. It's a very gripping and exciting read, tautly plotted and involving. Gaia, the young midwife is fairly believable and plenty sympathetic. There are a couple of parts of the narrative that don't hold up to intense scrutiny, so I recommend checking your disbelief at the door. This is not a spoiler, but it's going to be vague because of that: I really enjoyed the code, and loved that it was reproduced in the text. No, I didn't crack it, but I did give it a shot!In between the adventures, Gaia hearkens back to her childhood in a way both poignant and evocative. It helps flesh out the backstory, too. The love interest is perhaps the hardest character to understand- or to believe in.The ambiguous ending was just right. I'd read a sequel, and O'Brien left herself wide open for one, but it's not a cliffhanger either. Recommended, if you like dystopian futures and lippy young midwives.