Interest Enough Concept | Review of Branded (Sinners #1)

By Cynthia Ayala

Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Image Credit Goodreads

“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. To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line. Now, LUST wraps around Lexi’s neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of her. However, she will not let it break her; she will survive and fight for her rights.” —Goodreads

Published June 27, 2013, by Month9Books Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki is the first in the Sinners trilogy, a young adult dystopian novel.

This novel is one that is unique in certain aspects but falls short on other aspects. What are the promising aspects of the novel is the concept addressing the seven deadly sins. It is interesting to think of a world that is separated, keeping people in line, keeping them scared that any wrongdoing will send them to hell on Earth. However, what’s also interesting the way the prison system works once it brands its inmates. Sins do not separate the city; instead, the inmates are made to interact with one another as its own corrupt society, capitalizing on the “survival of the fittest” ideology. These characters are made to be aware not only of their sins but others as well, making some of individuals targets. The Lexi ceases to be an individual in this novel. Lexi’s brand groups her in with a crowd, stripping away her identity and corrupting how others see her, creating a toxic and dangerous environment for her. That in itself makes it a good novel because Lexi’s fighting against that she is fighting to retain her humanity and sense of identity. Lexi has to remember who she is and continue to define herself as more than her label. What’s more is that this teenage girl is also innocent. However, one of the things that hinder’s the uniqueness of the novel is the Romantic aspect of the novel. On some level, it is a very challenging aspect of the novel because it does not seem to fit at times. Is that romance in the novel it does not add to the novel it does not give the main protagonist her sense of identity, but rather it locks her into the label branded on her. It is not essential to the story and detracts from the strength that the character has in maintaining her own identity.

It is an interesting concept for the novel, creating this one place to put criminals. It is not a unique concept, but the way the story functions and the structure of the novel create a unique atmosphere. However, it is also a very tense and dangerous atmosphere. This is a prison full of people no one cares about, and the characters, some of them are lost and broken, some are despicable, it is a dark world here for the characters and that tension is what drives the novel forward.

Some of the tension, much like the romance, it does not always fit though. When the story introduces Lexi’s brother, he is not likable. His animosity does not make sense and host attitude towards his sister that he abandoned, it comes off as standoffish. He is not a likable character and his dynamics with Lexi. That relationship makes the pace of the novel stutter along. Much of the tension comes off as forced as the novel progresses. That is not to say that the dynamics just don’t work at all, it is just those moments when the authors are trying to get something across that the novel feels less than genuine.

Overall it is an interesting novel. Some parts dragged out, but there is character development and tension to keep the story interesting. The story takes a little too long to resolve itself, and when it does, it seems very final, not leaving much room for a sequel. It is unclear where the story is going, but a revolution is starting here, that is clear to see, so that is enough intrigue to keep the series going.

Product Details:

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

Page count: 384pp

Age Range: 16 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-9895-2740-8

Publisher: Month9Books

List Price:  $13.53

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