Recently, the Chicks received this book as an ARC to review with my honest opinion. Branded: A Sinners Series by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki (this review is that of Tiffany’s solely). The book is about a post-war world where sinners are branded and sent away from civilization to the Hole, a wasteland with few rules, many sinners and guards who abuse status and power. The story revolves around the beautiful Lexi Hamilton, who is accused of Lust and sent to the Hole and her relationship with her personal guard, Cole.
Will Lexi survive this world where anything goes? Does Cole turn out to be a friend or foe? What happened in Lexi’s past that leads her to her peculiar assignment in the Hole? Will she ever be free in a land of prisoners?
Lexi is portrayed as being strikingly beautiful and she’s sent to a place where people have their humanity stripped. There’s always a threat; what will happen today to Lexi? The imagination can run rampant with scenarios but the authors craftily weave a story that walks the line of vulgarity and decency.
The book is similar in some ways to The Hunger Games but there is much more rated R material. I wouldn’t call this suitable for a pre-teen audience due to some graphic scenes but it still falls shy of being as explicit as you can expect in a place where anything goes.
I kept waiting for the Lexi-Cole relationship to match the graphic nature of the Hole but unfortunately, there was just not enough adult material to keep me interested in this book. I expected a lot more than the will-they-won’t-they, PG rated scenes that Lexi and Cole shared.
This book also falls off in the second half. It moves too fast and the character development is not fleshed out enough to make it believable. This feeling is culminated in the last few chapters which go by in a blur with no emotion or feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the characters show emotion but by that point, I stopped caring. Maybe if it was separated into two books there would have been more room to tap more into Lexi’s feelings about the twists and turns of her life.
If you're into Hunger Games with a little more adult themes, this book may appeal to you. Some other popular dystopian reads are Divergent by Veronica Roth and Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Matched by Ally Condie.
To find out more from these authors including other works and bios, check their website at AbiandMissy.com