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bbdb2-20647319Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

The first in a new series by Abi Ketner and Missi Kalicicki, Branded is an intriguing dystopian YA novel where people are physically branded when they are accused and found guilty of committing one of the seven deadly sins. Though the seven deadly sins are often associated with religion, there are no strong religious undertones throughout the book.

Lexi Hamilton was accused of a crime she didn’t commit, and as a result she was branded for all to see with the word lust across her collarbone. Forced to reside in the Hole, Lexi must live day in and day out in deplorable living conditions. When she has worn out her usefulness as a worker, then Lexi will be thrown into the worst part of the Hole where the worst of the sinners live.

Under the watchful eye of her guard, Cole, Lexi must try not to give in to temptations of the heart and body. But there is much more to Cole than Lexi could have ever imagined, and he just might be the ally she needs to bring change to her world.

Branded had such a strong start, but I found myself losing interest in it as the novel progressed. I have had a difficult time trying to pin down exactly where the book began to lose its appeal. I enjoyed the characters, setting, and fascinating twists that Abi and Missi introduced into their story, but I often found myself a bit confused about how life in the Hole worked. This threw me out of the story once or twice; I wasn’t all that clear regarding what Lexi’s “job” was in the Hole, and that could just be due to not paying as close of attention to detail as I should have been.

Based on how Branded ended, I am interested in reading the next installment in the series. I have some ideas on where I can see the authors taking these characters and the setting, and I would love to see if I’m right.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Month9Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.