by Abi Ketner, Missy Kalicicki
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.
Oh. My. Gosh! Wow - just WOW! If I had to sum to book up in just one word, it would be AWESOME!
The world is a whole different place after the judicial system is revamped creating different classifications of criminals based on the seven sins. All criminals (whether proven guilty or not) are branded with a different color on their neck depending on what sin they have been accused of. The branding process is not a fun ordeal, let me tell you! But anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. All criminals are taken to the ‘Hole’, which is basically hell on earth. Think concentration camp but 100 times worse, and well, you have the ‘Hole’ in a nutshell. Not a place you want to visit, let alone live in the rest of your life.
From page one Lexi Hamilton is a girl you really want to pull for. The story opens with her about to hang herself because she just can’t handle what life is dishing out anymore. Her dad died when she was younger, and her mother remarried a sadistic bastard who loves to prove his mighty powerful self. Although he really does not abuse Lexi physically, the mental abuse is by far worse than you can even imagine. Her brother had run away many years before, so Lexi has no one to turn to. And to top it all off, as if it could get any worse, she has been accused of the sin Lust – turned in by her own mother. She gets arrested, branded a sinner and taken to the ‘Hole’ – all without a trial because a person is guilty until proven guilty in this fine new world. Lexi is one tough chick that I really liked. Although she started out to appear weak, she proves that she can kick some serious butt when necessary!
Lexi gets assigned a guard to be with her 24/7, and this swoon-worthy male is named Cole and is really good looking and comes with a cute sidekick named Zeus. Cole’s orders are to protect Lexi and keep her alive – no matter what. Not an easy task when Lexi has basically been branded a whore and every guy wants a piece of her. Cole has a gut feeling that everything is not as it seems and believes that Lexi is innocent of her crime. He totally starts to fall in love with Lexi, but there’s a problem with this. Falling in love with a sinner is forbidden and punishable by an execution style death in front of EVERYONE. I instantly fell in love with Cole....hard. Even at the beginning, when he was being his macho guard self, I could really tell that there was a more gentle, protective and sexy side of Cole. And Zeus.....how can you not like Zeus! He provided just the right amount of humor when it was needed.
There are other lovable characters that I liked as well that really added to the story and then there were the characters you just can't help but hate. Each one brought their own uniqueness to the story and made it complete.
With forbidden romance, a rebellion in the making and so many twist and turns, this novel had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was impossible to put it down, even for a second. The authors really know how to draw a reader in with their vivid descriptions and thrilling plot. I’m not going to lie, there are some very gruesome and bloody scenes, so if you have a queasy stomach, this one may not be for you, but it’s well worth it as the scenes are crucial to the story line. I would highly recommend Branded to anyone who wants to read a refreshing take on the dystopian genre mixed with a little romance topped off with the humorous antics of one lovable and loyal dog. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
Very special thanks to Victory Editing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book to review. I enjoyed it so much, half way through I purchased my own paperback copy so I can hold and reread whenever my heart desires! But inquiring minds NEED to know…..when is the next book due to be released? This reader hopes really soon!
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
~Abi Ketner~Abi Ketner Is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.
~Melissa Kalicicki~Melissa Kalicicki received her bachelor's degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.