As I approach the book I am seriously looking forward to reading it. I missed out once before as a tour was cancelled I applied for . .then its been one of those books that I kept meaning to read so this tour gave me the opportunity to pin myself down to read it.
At 39% I know I am reading a fantastic book set in an an exceptionally great gritty dystopian world. A world in which poor Lexi has been sent to the hole. The hole is quite literally hell on earth. Though life outside the hole doesn't sound so great either.
I received this book from the authors via YA Bound Tours in exchange for my honest review and posting it as part of the blog tour.
So the cover shows us the silhouette of a girl/young woman with a blue brand around her neck looking at the high walls topped with barbed wire. The colours of the cover are dark to fit the oppressiveness within the book. I like the title and series and author names fonts and placements on the book too. Would I pick this book up in a book store on the strength of the cover alone? Yes, it does appeal to by book weakness of loving dystopian and post apocalyptic books.
So to the story, Lexi lives in the upper class area, her father recently died and her mother has remarried. Her step father regularly drugs Lexi's mum so she cannot see or help Lexi when he tortures her mentally as well as in a phyiscal kind of fashion too, locking her in a dark room etc. He also likes to lay next to her in her bed and terrorise her. It is during one of these "sessions" that her mother walks in and jumps to the conclusion that Lexi is trying to seduce her new husband so she is reported. Lexi is so down and devastated she is contemplating suicide when the guards take her away from her home and all that she knows into the notorious Hole. The Hole is where everyone who commits a crime or has been accused of a crime and cannot prove their innocence is taken. Upon being sentenced to be taken to the Hole you are known as a "Sinner". "Sinners" are the lowest of the low according to the High Commander, who rules the Hole. His decisions and rules are law in the hole. Once you get to the Hole everyone goes through the same processing. One part of the process is horrific as a collar is put around the offenders next and they are burnt with a "Brand". The "Brand" wraps all the way around the neck. The colour of your Brand is dependant on your crime.
Here is a list of the Brands and colours and what they mean. Lust - Blue, Gluttony - Orange, Greed - Yellow, Sloth - Black, Wrath - Red, Envy - Green and Pride - Purple. To be honest I got a little ways into the e-book on my kindle and was having problems remembering which brand was which so I flicked back on my kindle and wrote the brands and what offence they were for on a piece of paper just to refer to if I needed to. I did so occasionally. I also thought it would be a good idea to explain them to you in my review, that way you know what type of people the innocent Lexi has been put into the hole with. the last part of "processing" is watching a film about the great Commander of the Hole. Basically propaganda.
Lexi is assigned a job at the hospital under a man called Dr Sutton, which is lucky as most who have her Blue Brand for Lust end up as prostitutes. Lexi is also assigned a guard. The guard turns out to be one of the "good guy" guards. He sticks to the "rules" doesn't treat Lexi like a prostitute as some of the other guards would do and would like to do now. The Guards name is Cole, and he is . . .Mmm gorgeous, he also has a great dane dog called Zeus who takes a liking to Lexi and soon becomes a best friend and protector.
So life kind of goes along with the undercurrent of Lexi and Cole beginning to fall for each other, which is dangerous (you'll learn how in a scene about another guard and his prisoner on a stage) Lexi tries hard at her job and is really loving and caring to a young thirteen year old who is dying of a virus that cannot be cured. Lexi becomes true friends with Alyssa and stays with her as she is dying promising the girl she will carry out her final wishes of her body being cremated and her ashes being spread somewhere beautiful outside the Hole.
Then there is the rebellion which is being led by Sutton and Lexi's brother Keegan. Lexi only finds all this out when she is in danger of being hurt by the Commanders second in command Wilson. Sutton arranges for "good guards" Bruno, Cole & Zeus to take Lexi "underground" to rebellion headquarters. Keegan and Cole immediately lock horns over whether Lexi should fight. . . . . and yes there is an awful fight in which many people are killed. Who makes it out? The ending is very poignant with Alyssa's ashes finally being scattered . . . but who makes Alyssa's wish come true?
I truly loved this book the whole time I was reading it. Near the end I was "wow I can't wait to finish it and find out who survives" but at the same time I didn't want the whole book to end at all. You do become very attached to the characters within this book. I totally admit to having those tears in my eyes as Alyssa died and again as her last wish was fulfilled. This book really is an action, drama, angst ridden, emotionally charged dystopian delight!
So did I enjoy the book? Enjoy it? I totally loved it. It's totally a amazing, fantastic, brilliant read. Would I recommend the book? I highly recommend this one, alone with my favourite dystopians. I'd recommend to those who have read and loved The Registry by Shannon Stoker, and The Breeders by Katie French. Would I read a Bk#2? I'd be reading it right now if I had it! so yes! Would I read other books by either author alone or both authors co-writing again? I'd definitely read books co-written by Abi and Missy as well as books they have written or will go on to write alone.”
“This book blew me away. I am not a fan of dystopia novels, but this book was the perfect blend of suspense, romance, action, and horror. I was immediately drawn to the characters and the awful world they live in. My heart was racing while reading this book just from the fear of what might happen next. The imagery used to describe The Hole made me feel like I was stuck in there right along with the main characters. I can't wait for the next novel in the series to come out! ”Jenn E. wrote this review 3 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Branded is the story of Lexi, an unjustly branded sinner, and Cole, a guard. Lexi has been sent to The Hole to serve her lifetime sentence for a crime she didn't commit. The Hole was created by The Commander in a future dystopian world; He rules that world with an iron fist. Lexi had recently lost her father, a good man, who had spoke out against the Commander and his policies and her world has been turned upside down since he left. This story is about her struggle to survive in, and make some sense of, an apocalyptic world that is crumbling around her.
This was a very well-written book. The characters were well-developed and I felt Lexi's pain and challenges as my own. Cole became my hero as he struggled with his own feelings and did his best to protect Lexi - first because it was his job - but it quickly became much more than that. Unfortunately, it was an automatic death sentence for a guard and a sinner to fall in love.
I had a few dislikes. First, the future the authors paint, especially The Hole itself, was a depressing place. I didn't want to put the book down but I also dreaded the terrible injustices and senseless violence taking place in The Hole.
I also disliked Lexi's brother; he totally disregarded Lexi's feelings and treated Cole badly even though Cole had the approval of the Doctor who her brother respected. That part just seemed incongruous in the story to me.
I loved the twist at the end... totally unexpected.... and thank you for the relatively happy ending!
I will definitely pick up the next book in the series.
This is not a light-hearted read but it is an engaging read and a very worthy debut book for the authors.
3 1/2 stars!!!!!
“Lexi is sent the Hole after she was branded. It is a horrible place were your sin is shown for everyone to see and everyday someone dies. She is all alone and unsure who to trust. Her guard Cole does everything he can to protect her. It is against the law for them to fall for each other and punishable by death. Lexi knows she has to escape the Hole before it kills her. She may just have to let her guard down and let Cole in to escape the horrors. Everyone has a secret and some may just come back to get Lexi. It's a fight for survival, to escape and to get what her heart wants. Will Lexi be strong enough to survive.
Everyone thinks the worse of Lexi and she lets them. She doesn't let it get to her to much what they think. She has suffered before and knows she has to be strong to survive in the Hole. I liked her as she didn't whine about her situation she faced it. She has a sweet side you get to see, can be loving and will not back down from a fight. She does have a vulnerable side that you see a few times. Cole I wasn't sure of at first but I have to say he really grew on me. He is good looking, smart, strong and at times can be overprotective. That's not a bad thing in a place like the Hole.
I liked this book from the start. It has an amazing plot that you can't help but enjoy. It is packed full of danger as the characters lives are always in peril. You don't know what to expect next. There is a few twist I didn't see coming a few I did guess at. There is lots of characters to get to know and love along with a few to hate. There is a few heartbreaking scenes that are hard to take and even in times of sadness you see you can't let your guard down in this place. You will also get a few laughs about how a certain guard acts. If you enjoy dystopian books or just want a change of pace pick this up. It is an enjoyable book. This isn't a light weight book as.there is some horrible scenes that happen.
“My Opinion: This was a very powerful book! I just have to say that right off because you need to be prepared for violence and the worst that people can do when you read it. In the society of Branded, anyone can be accused of one of the seven deadly sins, and if they are accused then they are sent to The Hole and branded without ever having a trial or being able to speak in their own defense. The Hole is a prison that is nothing better than a slum that the prisoners are forced to live and work in, with guards everywhere who would just as easily shoot you as look at you. The guards are sadistic animals for the most part, although there are a few good ones, one of which is Cole, the guard assigned to Lexi when she is falsely accused of the sin of Lust and is branded with a blue ring around her neck (the color that lets everyone know what her sin was) and thrown in the Hole.
This book moved very fast at times, and then at other times I felt the narrative bogged it down. I felt that the threat of death over both Lexi and Cole if they ever got close would have caused them to fight their feelings a bit more, but once you get past the slower parts, the book picks up again at an almost break neck pace, hurtling the reader to the conclusion.
Overall I enjoyed Branded and was able to deal with the violence because it wasn't gratuitous - it simply let the reader in on what it was like in The Hole, the "realness" of it is what kept me reading even when I was uncomfortable with it.
I look forward to reading the next installment and recommend it to readers who don't shy away from violence in a messy dystopian world. I give this book 4 stars :D
I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.”
“I was given this book for an honest review.
Ok so let me say I was very 50/50 with this book. I either loved it at time or hated it at times. There was rarely any in between. It was the same with the characters. I mean Lexi, well....sometimes I wanted to hug her and at times I just wanted to shake her and tell her to shut the hell up, Eesh she could be so dramatic at times and I mean I know she has a right to be but ugh, it just got to me. And Cole, yeah I did like him, although sometimes the things that came out of his mouth sounded like a cheesy pick up line from a bar. Their love story may have been sweet but sometimes I felt like I was dealing with two 13 year olds. It drove me nuts, I even rolled my eyes a few times and even found myself shouting "OH COME ON"! Yikes. And the stuff that her stepfather did to her was just weird and a little out there for me and let me tell you I have read some strange books. Yeah the spiders, i just didn't get. But yeah.
Now the idea behind the story was actually pretty neat. I found it quite funny because I actually have the sin "Lust" tattooed on me. So that made me laugh. But it was a very unique take on the idea with the branding and putting people in a camp. The action was pretty great in the story and I found myself liking that most of all. The writing in the beginning seemed a little rushed to me but it eventually slowed down and flowed well. At times I would find myself caught up in the story. So as far as the book goes, the characters I am a little bummed about but the story itself was just neato. Would I suggest this book, yeppers I sure would.”
“Wow. Where do I even begin?
I found Branded to be completely unputdownable. I was gripped from the very first word, to the very last. The world building was in a league of it's own, the action, romance, the pure grit and determination of the characters. Everything made for a perfect story.
"To the outside, I'm filth now. I'll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does."
I have always admitted that I find it hard to absolutely love a female character. Sadly, so many authors throw in cliché female traits that I want my heroine to rise above. But Lexi? Lexi is 100% kick ass. She makes smart decisions, she stands up for herself, and goes out of her way to learn how to defend herself. So yeah, I don't say this very often but I loved every single thing about Lexi.
"I never planned on falling for you. You were just an assignment. But it just sort of happened and now... There's not a single thing I would change about you. When you smile, my entire world stops. All I see is you. I need you."
And Cole? He has quickly moved up the ranks in my list of book boyfriends. I love his interactions with Lexi. He is protective of her, but at the same time he lets her make her own decisions. Because she is such a strong character she doesn't have to go running to him for confirmation of her actions. And when she makes a decision, even ones that he doesn't agree with, he does what he can to make them a reality for her, because he loves her. Don't get me wrong, I love me a mega alpha man every now and again. But Cole is truly a breath of fresh air. He is just protective enough to keep Lexi safe, but isn't overpowering or aggressive. A perfect blend of so many traits, this is what makes him so amazing.
"The last thing I want is for you to be afraid of me. But I want you to trust me. I need you to trust me." He sighs and I hear the pain and confusion in his voice.
"I don't know why and it scares the hell out of me"
I am still in awe of the world that Abi and Missy have been able to create. I have seen so many comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I have to say, even after just one book, I am blown away. Of course I loved The Hunger Games, but Branded to me offered just that little bit more. I didn't know what to expect next, and there were plenty of twists and turns along the way. And the romance? This sealed the deal for me. There is nothing more heart wrenching than a good forbidden romance. And Lexi and Cole are the perfect example. I didn't feel that their feelings were rushed or pushed too far. They are both placed in extreme circumstances and their love, I felt, was gradually growing to match the pace of the world they live in.
"I love you... I don't want you to ever question it. I'd give up my life for yours. That's how much I love you. Don't you dare ever doubt that."
Now, to ease some of the worries you may have about this being a series. Yes, this is book one of the Sinners series, so there of course has to be an ending, but not THE ending of the story. There are a lot of fears of there being a cliffhanger.
I can assure you that the ending is a natural one. The people you will come to love are safe, for now at least. Is there more to the story? Absolutely. Are there questions left unanswered? Of course. But you will not be upset where it has ended, I promise. The wait for book two will not in fact send you running for the hills. So, with that said there is no reason to wait. Trust me, read Branded now.
"You can overcome anything...short of death."
Oh, and before I go, I have to give a shout out to Zeus. He is Cole's dog and I absolutely adored him. I am a big animal lover and I always have a bit of a fear when animals are written into stories. Especially one such as Branded, the world is so dirty, dangerous and scary. I was in constant fear that Zeus was going to get hurt, and as I do not handle animal death (even fictional animal death) well, I would have been devastated. I don't like spoilers, but I have to let you all know that Zeus makes it to the end, alive and well. If there are any others out there like me, I know you would want to know this.
Rainy Day Reads”
“My review for: Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Amazing. Fantastic. Heart-pumping, and brutal. These are just some of the words I would use to describe this very original dystopian novel. Heartbreaking at times and addictive from page one; Branded is one hell of a ride and it is one I will take over and over again. The depth of this story and how many twists and turns there are in it, it is a must read for any book lover. Even if this isn’t your usual genre, this book is a game changer! Trust me…you want to read this book!
In a world where justice lies in a single tyrant, the ‘guilty’ are marked and wrote off. These people are known as Sinners and their marks are a constant reminder that no one is safe and when you are marked you are forever convicted of that sin. There are seven deadly sins, each represented by a color and a discrimination. Instead of a prison system, they are nearly worked to death in the same matter as slaves would be. There is no justice when one man rules them all.
Lexi Hamilton has given up. There is nothing good left in the world now that her father was dead and she was more than ready to die along with him, but moments before she could commit suicide, they came for her. To mark her a whore even if the ruling was lie. She is sentenced to the Hole for the rest of her days.
Completely broken, she doesn’t fight back. What’s the point? No one can escape the Commander or his sadistic guards and what’s waiting for her in the Hole will change her whole life and possibly even her soul.
Cole is assigned to protect Lexi at all costs. When a beautiful girl is marked with LUST, there is nowhere that is safe for her. She is looked at as flesh and nothing more. And it doesn’t make his job any easier. To make matters worse, the more he learns about her the harder it becomes to disconnect from her. There is a pull there and it scares the hell out of them both. In a world where love is forbidden between the two castes, will they be able to deny the truth? Will there finally be a way to overthrow the Commander and save what’s left of humanity?
I cannot stress enough how truly incredible Branded is especially for a debut novel. Being unique in every way, I can honestly say you have never read anything quite like this before. With its vivid imagery both brutal and beautiful, Lexi’s story pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very end and even then you are left wanting more. Bravo, Abi and Missy! This is clearly going to be a bestseller!
“I received this book free from the authors in exchange for an honest review.
Branded is one of the best dystopians, if not the best that I have ever read. It was a breath of fresh air because it was so unique. I have never came across another book about the seven deadly sins and I loved it! I also really enjoyed the romantic aspect of this book. The message was great, no matter how crappy your living situation or life is at that moment people can still find love, even if it is forbidden. That made the romance even better because it was forbidden. I could totally see how Abi Ketner being a nurse influenced the story. Their writing was so engaging and the only reason that I took a break from the book was because my kindle died. The book flowed so gracefully and I never wanted it to end. Unfortunately it did :( the story also contained some darker scenes and some scenes where I was tearing up but I loved it all! I have no negative comments besides "WHY ISN'T BOOK TWO IN MY HAND RIGHT NOW????"
I loved these characters. I loved how Lexi was put in a terrible spot and almost didn't survive, but she did overcome it and now hopefully will have. Bright future. Cole is just SEXY so he can't do anything wrong in my books. I can't wait to see how their relationship pines out and I can't wait for some more sexiness!! I also fell in love with a few other characters but by far Zeus was my favourite. You will have to read it to find out. And how about that shocker??? Damn villains being so villainous!!
Loved this book! If I could I would give it a million stars! This is definitely the next big thing in Dystopian genre. I can picture it rit up there with the Hunger Games. I can honestly say that I happen this series goes on forever! I would recommend this novel to everyone and their dog. Now the authors need to hurry up and write book two, like yesterday would have been good ;)”