Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Series: Sinners #1
Published by Month9Books on August 19th, 2014
Source: Own, Provided by Publisher, Purchased
Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.
To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.
Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.
Brutal and savage violence.
Every day is a fight for survival.
But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
Okay let me give you the lo down on Branded: It’s a book set in this dystopian world fifty years after World War 5 (OMG!) where a ruthless man called The Commander uses the seven deadly sins to punish criminals. Said criminals are branded around their neck with the color of their sin.
Lust – Blue
Gluttony – Orange
Greed – Yellow
Sloth – Black
Wrath – Red
Envy – Green
Pride – Purple
These criminals are then cast out by society and thrown into The Hole. In comes Lexi Hamilton. She’s an 18-year-old girl who’s been branded with lust and must live out the rest of her days trying to survive in the Hole. She’s immediately paired with Cole, a mysterious yet compassionate guard who has to protect her from the horrors of the Hole. As The Hole keeps descending into chaos, Cole and Lexi discover things about the system that’ll make them question everything. Soon they’ll learn that maybe, the only ones they can really trust are themselves.
What I liked the most about this book was the way that it started. It immediately jumps into the action and we’re discovering Lexi’s rebellious and strong spirit from the get go. While she wasn’t necessarily the strongest of the lot (she would faint or throw up or cry), she definitely tried her absolute best to survive.
“You’re a sinner,” they say. […] I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear.
Lexi is compassionate and headstrong, and at times much too curious for her own good. However I really enjoyed seeing her journey throughout this novel because Lexi began as a scared little girl trying to battle some ghosts from her past and at the end she’s a strong and determined girl willing to fight for what she believes in.
When Cole enters the picture, you could immediately notice that he’d be the love interest in this book. I honestly can’t complain. Cole is a brave warrior and he’s determined to protect Lexi, even if her brand says she’s a… loose woman. He sees past Lexi’s mark and learns to love her regardless.
Their romance was definitely well developed. It was a forbidden romance (guard and prisoner) and it was so fun seeing them fight against their feelings. It was slow and even when it was painfully obvious that they were definitely falling for each other, the authors put it aside for a while in exchange for more world building and mystery and whatnot.
There was a wonderful cast of side characters; they all left their own special mark on the story. My favorite character was Alyssa because her storyline was so emotional and definitely one of the things that defined Lexi’s actions most of all.
A thing I didn’t like in the story was the fact that Lexi seemed to have so many privileges throughout: a guard to protect her, a relatively safe place to live, allies, and all around conveniences for her. At the end it is explained why, but it was hard to believe at first. I also didn’t like that while the romance isn’t insta-love; once it finally surfaces it’s kind of all encompassing. Suddenly Cole and Lexi get super intense, which kind of threw me off for a while. Also, the writing didn’t sit well with me at first because I could feel when one author would end writing and the author would begin. Nonetheless after the initial chapters the writing became seamless.
Overall, Branded is a surprising debut novel by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki that introduces a brand new dystopian world with a forbidden romance and a refreshing main character. It’ll leave you breathless for more after you pass the last page.
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