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Review: Branded by Missy Kalicicki and Abi Ketner

Summary

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. 

Constant darkness. 
Brutal and savage violence. 
Excruciating pain. 
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.

Review

Dystopian novels have always had a special place in my collection because I am drawn to the experience they introduce to a reader. I went into this read with high expectations that the authors, Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki, went above and beyond with its intriguing plot.

Branded is about a twisted world compared to the one we know, run by one man who classifies the prisoners by their sins with a Brand on their neck. The system is clearly flawed though, with the ability to accuse anyone of a sin and absolutely no system to prove innocence, many people unrightfully end up in the Hole, the prison the commander created to hold all of his sinners. Lexi is one of the unfortunate citizens accused of lust, even worse, it was done by her own mother. With no way to prove the accusations false, Lexi ends up in the Hole. Young and innocent, it is a miracle that Lexi is not alone. There to guard her, for reasons unknown, is Cole, a guard of the Hole. 

The idea of branding each prisoner is horrifying but also adds a certain unique quality that lacks in other books. Prisoners like Lexi who have not done anything wrong to end up in the Hole, will (hopefully) overturn the government in the future but they will always have a piece of it on their neck. Typically, citizens who break free of the government in a dystopian novel get rid of the past, but Lexi is not able to and it will be a constant reminder of the bravery and fighting she learned through her experience. 

I loved watching Lexi transform from a sad girl with a troubled past to pretty much an expert fighter. Branded showed her journey and the many ways that the experience was wrong, but helped her in the end.  She also grew emotionally, from a suicidal girl to a women with a love interest .Here is where the only complaint lies. Sure, Cole and Lexi were in a life and death situation every day, but I felt that their romance just happened in one chapter. The two had tension for a while, but they never told each other and all of a sudden they were a couple, not that I minded I just wish to have had a little more development. 

I absolutely loved Branded, Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki did a wonderful job to say the least. It was entertaining and funny with all the right amounts of action and of course, romance. What is a dystopian novel without romance? 

Branded kept you on your toes guessing, mostly wrong, the whole book right up until the very last shocking detail, which you never see coming. The unexpected details are so satisfying, even if you could not figure it out on your own. The length was perfect for me because I love books you have to struggle to finish in one sitting, the longer the better. Even though I am hoping to see another book in this series in the future, I am completely satisfied with the way it ended, for now. 

Reviewed by Rachel Keane

Publication date: 6/30/2014
Series: Sinners Series , #1
Pages: 384

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