Title: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Blurb:Twenty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadliest sins were the downfall of our 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.
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I had a really hard time writing this review because I had to keep containing myself from telling you too much!! I loved so much about it that I literally have pages of summary strewn about my room as I type this, but I don't want to spoil all the awesome for you so I'm going to keep this spoiler-free, I SWEAR!
In a world taken over by The Commander, under a false pretense of morality, that has lead to a world where the are only the accused....not the guilty. Those who are accused are thrown in The Hole. The prison that hoses the men, women and children that are branded on their throats with bands of color that designate what crime they have committed. With their deadly sin on full display, the people of The Hole live a hell everyday not only from within but from the guards who are suppose to keep order.
We meet Lexi Hamilton in a situation that actually may be a first for me reading anything, she is trying to kill herself. However, before she is able to complete the task, the guards chase her down and she is taken away to The Hole as a sinner. After being tattooed with a blue band for the sin of Lust, she is given a guard and thrown into The Hole where she will spend the rest of her life.....or so it seems!
What I loved the most about Lexi was that she seemed real. She went through hell growing up after her father died, and now she is in another form of hell in The Hole but she never loses some light inside her, which touched me. In all the horrible things that have happened to her, she could literally be dead inside and I wouldn't have blamed her, but she isn't. Lexi is a good person with a heart bigger than anyone I have read about in a very long time. She's tough and strong but she is able to love and feel and that's what drove this story home for me. Lexi was a center of light and hope in a world with not a lot of bright things to look at, especially when it came to Cole, her guard.
First of all, if there was a real life Cole in front of me, I might be at a lost for words. The way he is described in this story made me drool a little bit, but even more than just how he written to look like he's another small bit of sunshine within the sleazy underbelly of the guards station. Cole is actually a decent person who takes his job very seriously without taking advantage of his stature within The Hole. There is no surprise that these two are drawn to each other and I root for them to be together from the second we meet Cole until the very last page. Not for one second did I say to myself, these two shouldn't be together. Does Cole make mistakes? Yes and so does Lexi but in the end it comes down to who they are and how they feel about each other and I really loved where the relationship went.
I'd be a fool if I didn't talk about the world this story is placed in because it is HUGE. I'm not just talking about Earth as a whole but even just within the great big walls of The Hole the world is enormous. Between the physical entity and the relationships between the immense amount of people within them, it could have easily gone in thirty different directions and you could get lost in the buildings that make it up. However, you never do. I never once had to back up and figure out where they were or what was going on. It is complicated, don't get me wrong, but in a good way. It makes for an entertaining story just watching the interactions of prisoner vs. prisoner, guard vs prisoner, guard vs. guard and so on. You get to see everything from the gorey and gross to the soft and gentle moments that Lexi has to go through throughout the book and it really is a complete and detailed setting these characters are traipsing around in, and it was great!
Overall, yes this is another dystopian story with a romance that will bring you to your knees, but don't dismiss it. Branded has been one of the most intriguing books I have read this year and it kept my attention for hours at a time (to the point I had to force myself to stop reading at 3 am!) and it is truly a unique story in a genre that is over run with stale and boring takes on dystopia. Pick up Branded NOW because I loved it and I think you will too!!- My Opinion- BUT IT NOW!!!!
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Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
Check them out:Website: http://www.abiandmissy.com/