Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: BRANDED by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

So back in May, I got to be a part of the trailer reveal of this awesome-sauce dystopian  
and posted with that trailer was the first chapter of Branded.
After reading chapter one, I KNEW I HAD TO READ this baby.
Here's my review of Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki's dark ya dystopian,



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.

Genre:  Dark/Mature YA Dystopian
Publisher Type: Indie/Self-Pub

Purchase Links: Amazon and Barnes & Noble 
Add Branded to your Goodreads TBR list HERE.

Read Chapter One HERE.

My Rating: *  *  *  *

My Review:
I find myself quite torn on how to rate this book.  Some of it I LOVED like crazy!  Some of it I wasn't so wild about.  So I'm going talk about the book in two sections...

Section One .... the first 70%
This is the section that I loved.  From chapter one, this book is action packed!  Crazy stuff happens immediately -- I LOVE THAT!  Also within those first pages, we quickly get a sense of who Lexi is: conflicted, traumatized, and yet brave.  I adore Lexi; she's a very real character.  We soon meet Cole, who is very hot and cold, but we get that he is an honorable sort of guy and though I don't always understand his motivations, he's likable.  And while the rest of the cast we meet here are well done, my hands down favorite character is Zeus.  He totally steals the show.  By the way, he's a dog.

Branded has a pretty great dystopian setting.  The bulk of the book is within the walls of the Hole.  The Hole is a truly dark and scary place.  It's intense and frightening and everything you are looking for in a dark dystopian setting.  I was a bit confused with the set up of both the Hole and society in general.  Sometimes things would conflict.  If the leaders shuns behaviors such as lust, why would the Hole employ some inmates as prostitutes?  Overall, this didn't hurt my enjoyment of the book because the action and intensity really kept me engaged, turning pages and reading late into the night.

Section Two ...... the last 30%
Almost precisely at the 70% mark, there are some major changes.  Now, I don't do spoilers, so please forgive my vagueness as I try to explain.  Lexi's situation changes some and a new, important, character is introduced.  This character I didn't like at all.  He's a "good guy" but he's a complete jackass and, as readers, we should care about this person.  I never could understand what he and his friends would have against Cole, when they trusted him and Bruno enough their location and plans.  Then Lexi and Cole act very out of character.  I understand why the authors have them do what they do but it didn't come off well.  I was really bugged by a plot hole where someone knew what traumatized Lexi in her life prior to the Hole because that someone knew her dad, who died before these events.  And as for those traumatic events, some were too out there for me.  It would've worked better if the mind games were more subtle.  There was great action/suspense at the end, but the last plot twist was a bit implausible for me.

In conclusion .......
This is mostly a nose-glued-to-book page turner and I enjoyed it immensely.  I had a lot of issues with the last portion of the book, but the overall story is fantastic.  I look forward to reading book 2.

Cover Art:
This is a great cover that really reflects the mood of the book.  I did, however, find another cover on the authors' website that I liked even better (see below).  

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