Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

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Publication Date: 28th June 2014
Publisher: Abby and Miss Books
ISBN: 9780989527408
Age Group: Young Adult 13-17 years
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Adventure
Source: Netgalley
Lootability: Did Not Finish

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 my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.
Constant darkness.
Brutal and savage violence.
Excruciating pain.
Every day is a fight for survival.
But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

I received a copy of Branded from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, sometimes a book and a reader do not suit. I was very excited by Branded by self-publishing début authors Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki; I received an advance copy through Netgalley and got stuck in straight away. My excitement did not last and I did not finish the book.
The novel has a great premise – after the last World War, the Commander came to power and is forcing the populace to live under a stern set of rules – anyone who commits one of the seven deadly sins is arrested, branded and forced to work in the Hole. There’s a lot more to it (or so I assume from other reviews) but I only made it 33 pages in.

I have two reasons for putting down Branded:

  1. The heroine, Lexi, is melodramatic from the beginning – everything is harder and scarier for her, but she is superior to all the everyone around her in both understanding and strength. Or so she keeps telling us; I’m not interested in hearing Lexi’s thoughts on how wonderful she is, or how she has to be strong through this awful time. I want to see Lexi prove her strength by reacting to her tragic circumstances, it’s not enough to tell me that she can and then have her ‘lose it’ repeatedly.
  2. There is a big difference between the styles of every author and as a reader you accept some styles are better than others. The writing styles in Branded did not suit me. This is a self-published novel, a brave undertaking but one that can leave your book open to flaws. There are a lot of problems with the phrasing:

The door is partially covered, but it exists.” – This is not the Matrix – a spoon is just a spoon. You can’t hide something that doesn’t exist.

I squint my eyes” – Really? By definition squint refers to your eyes – what else would Lexi be squinting?

My problem with Branded, publishing in its second edition on 28 June 2014, lies in the potential I see. Lexi could be a strong and passionate character with a little work. All those sentences that make me cringe could be fixed if they pushed their editor a little harder.

A self-publication like Branded is a wonderful achievement and I applaud Ketner and Kalicicki for their hard work and ambition. It’s wonderful to see the authors re-releasing the book with improvements but I’m disappointed that I’m not seeing the best work they can produce.

I may try this book again in the future – perhaps being in a different mood will help – but Branded has a lot of potential and I think it will be very well received.


Rating: 1 out of 5.

One comment

  1. I am reading this right now and am actually really enjoying the book. I do agree with you about the editing flaws, though. I am a freelance editor and have worked on YA fiction before. I can't stop myself from highlighting some of the biggest issues I'm finding in the book.

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