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. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.
Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.
Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.
The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
Branded is the first book in the Sinners series by independent authors: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki. I love reading independent authors’ books because you can really find some amazing writing as in the case of Branded. As a lot of you guys know dystopian novels are my favorite genre to read so I was automatically drawn to this book. Right from the beginning you are thrust into the plot and you really learn about what is going on in this world as it is happening to the main character, Lexi. This is great because it makes you never want to put this book down, and unlike some other books that I have read, I did not get confused once in this book.
First, Lexie is taken from her home by guards to go to this place called the Hole (which is about as appealing as it sounds). But before she can enter the Hole she has to be branded around the neck to represent her sin. The sins are represented in the colors as follows:
Blue – Lust
Orange – Gluttony
Yellow – Greed
Black – Sloth
Red – Wrath
Envy – Green
Purple – Pride
Well Lexi is branded with the color blue. Now I know what you’re thinking, but trust me she didn’t do it. The thing with this society is that there are no trials, no judicial system at all. All you have to do is be accused by the commander and you’re convicted and put in the Hole. Normally in the Hole everyone is left to defend for themselves But with Lexi it’s different she has a permanent guard named Cole.
Your first impression of Cole is that he’s a cold, hard man that Lexi cannot possibly get along with. But the character development was smooth and well paced in this novel. You didn’t feel like all of the sudden Cole had a major personality change and now we all love him, it was very gradual. As was their romance (let me tell you guys, the CoLexi feels are real). But Cole is not the only character that goes through major changes. Lexi is introduced as this weak scared little girl but as she comes to terms with her situation, she becomes such a strong independent character and one of my all-time favorite heroines. They were not the only characters that you meet in this book though. Even the side characters like Bruno, Zeus, Sutton, Alyssa, Keegan, etc. had strong voices and unique personalities.
Now, as with any dystopian book, we know that something is wrong in the world and these characters are trying to fix it. While I’m not going to say too much about this part of the book because this review is spoiler free, I will say that Abi and Missy were very graphic. Graphic enough that I was cringing through some parts because it created such a vivid picture in my mind about what was happening, but not too graphic that it made me uncomfortable and want to stop reading. With other dystopian novels I felt that the author took too many unrealistic leaps regarding characters strength or stamina but with Branded I felt they hit the nail on the head.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and did not find any major faults in it. Branded was full of heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, unexpected plot twists, and a storyline that ties together perfectly while leaving you wanting more. It was such a fantastic start to what I am hoping will be an equally fantastic series. Abi and Missy are current writing the second book titled, Hunted. But there is no publication date available. I would rate this book 5/5 stars and recommend it to any dystopian lover out there or anyone seeking a thrill ride.