Monday, 11 November 2013

Book: Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Branded is book 1 of the Sinners Series. I received a copy of Branded from the authors in exchange for my honest review.

Lexi has been accused, and once accused you are branded a sinner. Lexi is taken to the Hole and branded with a blue band around her neck to symbolise lust, one of the seven deadly sins that you can be branded with. In the Hole, Lexi is guarded by Cole, a young guard with a surprising amount of sensitivity. Living in close proximity to each other, and seeing each others human side, particularly when they befriend a dying 13 year old sinner, a forbidden love blossoms. But then a test of their love comes and they have to choose between their ideals and their relationship.

Link to Goodreads
Link to amazon

Wow. Just wow. I'm pretty sure that was one of the most emotionally poignant dystopian books I've read (and I have read a lot of dystopian books...take a trip to my 'reviews by genre' page if you want to know, and that's just what I've reviewed!)

First though, I wouldn't normally include a warning for anything other than sexual content, but I feel that because of the emotional nature of the book, I need to give it. This book isn't suitable for younger readers, and not because of sex (though for this genre, the chemistry is bubbling!) but because of some of the themes and events that are of a mature and potentially disturbing nature.

This isn't just about the conditions in the Hole, but up until about three quarters of the way through, it is highly hinted at that Lexi was abused by her stepfather. At about that point, it is revealed that it was true and the full extent of the abuse. I wouldn't normally include a spoiler like that, but even though they are fictional characters, I still felt sick and repulsed by what her stepfather did to her.

Though in some ways I do believe that making me feel like that is kind of a good thing, as it proves to me the skill with which the authors have crafted their characters and story, so that you cared about what had happened in fictional Lexi's past, but also that the whole thing felt so real.

On to much happier things from Branded though! I mentioned above that the chemistry between Lexi and Cole was bubbling, and it really was. You could see how Lexi started to fall for him, and fell for him gradually. Starting, somewhat ironically, with lust, and going from there. Plus, lets hear a cheer, no love triangles!

The only thing that really frustrated me was the brand colour system which was only explained once. That meant that I had to keep guessing what some of the brands meant. The only ones I was 100% sure on were lust (blue), pride (purple) and greed (yellow) because they were the most mentioned. I also presumed (and am pretty sure) that red was wrath, then logic would dictate that envy would be green, but as for sloth and gluttony, which colours they were is beyond me.

Zeus! I haven't mentioned him yet! This is one of those rare dystopias where an animal actually plays a major role. In this case, Zeus is Cole's 'guard' dog. Though on paper Zeus was a guard dog, he seemed to have a pretty close bond with both Cole and Lexi, and though he was protective he was always very lovable.

Like dystopias? Then you need to give this one a go!