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
Branded absolutely floored me. I don't know exactly what I was expecting when I picked up the novel but what I was not expecting was a beautiful romance, a roller coaster of emotions and a tale of hope and courage.
I started Branded thinking I would read one or two chapters and didn't put it down until my kindle was dead. When it came to the end of the novel I was so disappointed that not only was the book over but that I couldn't pick up the next one and start reading it right away. Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki do a a magnificent job of creating her characters. You fall in love some and easily hate others. The main character, Lexi, is a magnificent female lead. Strong, kind and defiant she's a woman I would want my children to read about with qualities I would be proud for them to emulate.
Branded also does an exquisite job of illustrating how absolute power corrupts absolutely. With the Commander hidden behind a veil of anonymity their is no way for society to rise against him and condemn him for the evils he perpetrates on his citizens. By allowing him to rise in power and never standing up for themselves or their neighbors the citizen's have put themselves at a madman's mercy. This situation shows how not standing up for human rights, living in fear and blindly following can be. Had the citizens not done these things The Hole and the Branding system may not exist.
But despite all the horrors of living in The Hole Lexi finds that she can still find the best parts of humanity burning strong withing the people who have been condemned. Dr. Sutton, in charge of the hospital, could be a vicious employer but treats Lexi as if she were his own. Cole is Lexi's guard. He could take advantage of his power and proximity to Lexi but instead protects her and shows her kindness and at times even love. Alyssa is dying but she teaches Lexi about hope, bravery and friendship. It is her that inspires Lexi against the oppressive regime and to fight for freedom.
Branded was a Tour de Force of emotion. I was seething with anger not only for the Commander and his Second in Command for their excessive cruelty but for the guards for the way the take advantage of the situation. I hated Lexi's step-father for what he did to her and her mother for allowing it. At some points I even wanted to punch Lexi's step brother in the nose. But interspersed with all that anger and hatred Branded made me feel was the hope I found as Lexi got to know Alyssa. The love I found as Lexi and Cole fall for one another. And the heartbreak I felt for all of the lives lost. Talk about a roller coaster. Those that are more sensitive may want to keep a couple tissues on hand while they read.
Fans of Dystopian novels and Romance should get this book into their hands ASAP. If the writing hadn't fallen flat in a couple of places I would have given it 5/5 stars. I absolutely can not wait for the next book in the series!