Series: Sinners #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance,
Source: Netgalley from Mark My Words Publicity
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Goodreads Synopsis: 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. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.
Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.
Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.
The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
What was it like co-authoring your debut novel? Now be honest here, Abi and Missy, I know you say you're best friends, but there had to be fights over scenes/characters/descriptions.
When can we expect the sequel to Branded, and what can we expect? Will it be focused more on their life outside of the Hole, on why the Hole exists in the first place, Cole's intense swoonworth-iness/yumminess factor?
How long have the two of you known each other, and what made you decide to write Branded together? When did you begin writing, and what made you decide to self-publish?
Was there any particular reason that Lust was the deadly sin that Lexi was accused of?
If you committed one of the sins, which one would it be? We all know there would be one. Would you lust after fame and fortune? Indulge yourself in that cute pair of shoes you saw at the mall? Fail to go to church? Break something out of anger? Not share your toys with others?
Disclaimer: I received this book from Mark My Words Publicity which does not affect my honest review in any way.
Were you afraid of writing what could have easily been turned into a cliche novel? The girl falls in love with the enemy, they have to hide their love, or risk dying painful deaths.
Pro: The Premise. Like Missy and Abi said, this is a concept that has never been done before. I have never read a book that mentioned the 7 Deadly Sins, and to be honest, I didn't even know the specific sins when I started reading the book. The general structure of the novel, with an oppressive government, and a girl falling in love with her captor, and then them wanting to run away is a classic arc for a lot of dystopian books. Yet Missy and Abi made it all their own. The idea of the Hole is quite terrifying, especially because of how often people were banished to it. It would be one thing if only hardened criminals were thrown in, but Lexi was a one-time offense case.... that didn't actually do anything wrong.
Pro: The Pacing. Oh my gosh, the speed of this book. It didn't let me become bored for a single moment, and I was captured by the different events happening and being described. This was the best part of the book in my opinion, because even when books have characters, romance, and other elements that you dislike, you generally hang on still if there is a good plot.
What inspired the fact that the seven deadly sins were the supposed downfall of humanity?
Pro: The World Building. I absolutely adored the ingenuity of the Hole, and uniqueness (not the reasons why characters were in the hole or the conditions), kind of like the characters own personal hell. There were some painfully vivid descriptions that teach you one lesson. Do NOT commit any of the 7 Deadly Sins, because you will not survive being in there.
What/Who inspired the character Alyssa? Was she just someone the two of you thought of, or was she more symbolic, as a beacon of hope, and a ray of sunshine for the story.
Pro: Alyssa. I hate to say this, but I think Alyssa was my favorite character in the book (sorry Lexi). In the world of darkness that is the Hole, she is the symbol of innocence, purity, and hope -and us readers always need an Alyssa to lighten the story up. for those of you that haven't read the book, she is basically the Primrose and Rue of Branded. Alyssa is a 13 year old girl that has been dying of a deadly disease for months now, and is in constant pain. Then Lexi shows up and the two of them help each other. Lexi provides comfort and reassurance. Alyssa proves to be a much needed anchor for Lexi.
Pro: Cole. I honestly don't know how you can be a guard (like he is) without being totally swoon worthy and hot. The chemistry between the two of them is immediately visible to readers, although I know I can't be the only one when I say that I wish I had Cole to myself. He pulled off the "gruff guar that doesn't want to fall in love with you for the sake of both our safety" without seeming too untouchable. And (this helped me a lot) he reminded me so much of Four from Divergent, more specifically, Theo James. I need not explain myself any further.
Con: Writing Style. While the story was fast paced and the plot kept me going, the writing style itself was not the highest quality I have ever encountered. The general voice of Lexi Hamilton (who the story is told by) isn't very unique. There are also quite a few descriptions that seemed cliche, "bloodcurdling scream. blood-red object." Lastly, when Cole professed his love for Lexi, I felt like I was reading a script for a cheesy soap opera. Don't get me wrong, I loved the fact that they were in love, but the way he did is seemed almost like the speech you would make when building up to a marriage proposal.
Con: Characters. I didn't feel like Cole and Lexi were really one-of-a-kind characters. I credit this to my slight dislike of the writing style. Even if Abi and Missy described them, I didn't feel a very strong connection with Lexi and Cole. I didn't get the sense that they were real people, with desires, needs, and values.
Conclusion: Branded is a perfect quick read if you want your taste of action, adventure, and swoon-worthy romance.