Review: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

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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.

Branded was reviewed as part of the Branded blog tour.

Let me just start out by saying, Branded is a whole lot of intense. Right from the start we’re thrown into the action of these guys living in a dystopic future. And the future that’s painted is all kinds of awful.

Lexi is our MC and while you can tell she’s a fighter right from the start, it takes her the majority of the book to really gain the confidence to kick some arse. We see her go through A LOT and while she’s vulnerable, and angry, and scared, and sick, you can tell she’s going to push through and make the jerk-heads pay.

This brings us to our steamy-sweet guard, Cole. He’s a beef-cake. Oh, do I need to go on? He kind of reminds me a little of Four from Divergent. He starts out pretty gung-ho in his guard role, but he softens more as the book goes on and he and Lexi get closer.

Now, it’s always the characters of the book who really make or break it for me, and Alyssa is one of those characters you fall head over heels for. She’s sweet and compassionate and I’m pretty sure she nearly brought me to tears a few times while reading. Then, there’s Sutton. He was just like that wise, all-knowing, figure that was kind-of creepy, kind-of sweet, and all kinds of mysterious.

There were just a few things that stood out in this book that stopped me from loving the stuffing out of it. First, at times the dialog was super stilted and drew me out of the character. Second, I was really excited to see her brother, Keegan, finally come into the story, but while I was given so many reasons to care about him, I didn’t. I thought he was a toss-pot. So when he came between Lexi and Cole I just couldn’t buy into her siding with him. And thirdly, Lexi is branded with ‘Lust’, it’s her thing in this crappy world, but I still couldn’t understand why that meant every guy thought it was okay to try it on with her? I mean, these people were pretty normal once, so why are they behaving like barbarians now?

Overall, Branded is a great book if you’re looking for something with a complex dystopian world. Lexi is a pretty strong character (until her brother gets involved) and it’s refreshing that she has to learn her strength, rather than it getting shoving in our faces all, “check out my GIRL MC who’s SUPER STRONG ALL of the times”. I’d strongly recommend it.

Four stars from me.

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