Wayward Kitsune

Branded (Sinners, #1) - Abi Ketner,  Missy Kalicicki For the complete review, please visit Thoughts and Pens

Friends, I don’t even know where to begin my review for this book. The last time I was reading it, I was pretty much certain that I was transported into Hell. Yeah, it might sound as the biggest overstatement of the year. But it is.
I was so thankful that I took the time checking the available R4R books in YABCD and found this. After reading the summary, I know I was captivated and no one can stop me from reading it…even my other pile of ARCs. And before you ask, THIS BOOK WAS ALL WORTH IT! It totally had me spinning until now.

Branded brings us to the hellish world of Lexi where citizens who committed sins are branded according to the Bible’s seven deadly sins. And they are transported to the Hole—or Hellhole as I put it—to live and work like the lowest kind of beings… lower than animals. Due to an ill-fated circumstance, High Society girl Lexi was branded for lust and now, she must endure the violence, pain, and death to endure the Hole.

From the very first page of Branded, I know I was immediately hooked. Lexi’s simultaneous plight to escape the world for good and run away from the Commander’s guards was foreboding. Then, gradually, the story thickens as it carried me to the Hole, the last place on earth that you want to live in and one that your nightmares won’t even entertain. I couldn’t believe that Abi and Missy were able to create an extremely horrific place ridden by hardcore violence, gory deaths, intense pains and endless misery. Death would have been more welcome if I am given the opportunity to live in it. I’ve already seen the world of the Hunger Games, Divergent and Maze Runner and talk about how awful they are but Abi and Missy’s world building for Branded is beyond that. The Hole is a god-forsaken place that will torture your mind and your person as a whole.

As if the world building wasn’t enough to traumatize me for a lifetime, Branded walked me through the miserable life of Lexi. She’s the kind of heroine who had been through hell and came back and then gone through hell again and came back with relentless courage to fight for what she believed in. I swear to this blog that the flashback on her life before the Hole really made me stop breathing. The ordeal that she had to go through was too much for me to digest and I can’t help but cry. And then her arrival at the Hole exacerbated all the pains that she had been suffering. But that didn’t break her resilient soul and compassionate heart. She’s tough both emotionally and physically. That alone is enough to put Lexi in my list of my most favorite heroines. Despite the notorious reputation of the Hole, Lexi was still able to find people who cared. First, there’s Cole, handsome and jaw-dropping gorgeous, who was assigned to be Lexi’s guard. He is sarcastic but he has a heart of gold, always risking his life to keep Lexi from danger’s harm even if it was damn forbidden. Then entered Alyssa, a 13-year old girl, who was brought in the Hole for stealing when she was just eight. Though her presence in the book was short-lived, her character was one of the most haunting ones. There was just too much pain and loss whenever I think of her. Apart from these two, there were other characters as well who left their own brand of personalities. To say it simply, Branded’s characters were well developed individuals whom you can laugh and cry with.

Now, I think you might get scared about reading this book after reading the earlier paragraphs but hey, Branded isn’t just about violence and adrenaline pumping scenes, it also has its share of giddying romance. Yes. Yes. And I am so thankful that Abi and Missy didn’t angle for a love triangle scenario. Branded’s romance was definitely intense and important to the plot. It was scary and at the same time poignant and wonderful. The romance development was well made but promise, it isn’t nauseating. True, there were instances that our heroes and heroines almost lost their heads for love (who wouldn’t be if it’s the first time you encounter such a thing?), but in the end they set aside their emotions and focused on the task ahead of them.

Drama has also been a strong point of Branded. This might sound pathetic but there is a scene in the book that rendered me crying with matching hiccups. The scene was so tragic, a perfect depiction that life is sooo damn unfair.
Branded’s manner of writing is excellent. It is vibrant bringing Lexi’s world into life putting me in a rollercoaster of emotions. It was definitely raw and disturbing. Looking back, there are so many life worth of lessons that can be gleaned from this book and I just don’t know where to start.

Branded started with a bang and ended with a bang. The climax was properly executed and the denouement was gloriously satisfying. I felt that the pain I acquired from Lexi’s ordeal has been avenged. I absolutely recommend this book in a heartbeat. For the faint of hearts, better brace yourselves for this one hell of a ride. Famous dystopias out there would miserably pale in comparison with this book. This is how a dystopia should be done!

Note: a free copy was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.