By Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
*** - Good Book
Branded most certainly had an interesting dystopian concept that initially caught my attention with the branding of the "sinners" for committing one of the 7 Deadly Sins. However, the plot was lacking even by middle of book. I was still not sure where it was headed which, although negative in some regards, added an element of suspense that kept me reading.
The story line flows in regards to the development of the relationship between Lexi, the female lead character, and Cole, the lead male character. However the rest of the story line is lacking. Although the plot up to about 65% of the way through the book was weak, I would say it was enough to keep me invested in reading simply from a standpoint on an original concept and the desire to see where it would lead.
The characters are certainly well developed--even Zeus, the Great Dane dog belonging to Cole. Although the characters are believable I didn't find them as easy to relate to as I would have liked.
The dialogue reflects who the characters are and is natural and flows properly. There are quite a few moments in the story where the scenes cause a lull in the book. Another concern for me with dialogue is in regards to Lexi. What I assume are a combination of flashbacks, inner monologues and bad dreams were hard to decipher which one was which. It happens more than a few times in the book and I would have liked to have known what was actually going on.
Lexi is a caring character who doesn't deserve to be where she is but Cole's character--the strong, sexy, good man--almost brings life to Lexi's character. Sutton and Bruno are great side characters dedicated to Lexi for reasons unknown to her or the reader for a majority of the book. They're also keeping Cole and Lexi's relationship a secret due to the fatal ramifications if they are found out. Zeus, the dog, is a huge light in Lexi's life. The scenes with him involved really lighten up the dismal situation Lexi finds herself in. I even found myself smiling.
I must mention that although the references are vague, there seems to be some type of abuse at the hands of Lexi's stepfather. However, as I said the mentionings are very vague. Lexi does encounter a near rape/beating though so be forewarned if you are sensitive to such matters.
I must admit I am new to dystopian fiction and quite enjoyed it. This book is classified as a dystopia because innocent people can be branded as "sinners" based on the accusations of others without proof and no recourse for the accused.
Last but not least I must mention the great editing with minor proofing errors throughout. All in all I found this to be a good book!