Review · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Branded by Abi Ketner, Missy KalicickiSynopsis from Goodreads:

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.


The U.S. was taken over by the Commander who believed the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. In his government, all who are accused and/or found guilty of a sin are branded and thrown into the Hole. Lexi is falsely accused of committing Lust. She is branded and thrown in the Hole. The Hole is full of evil from both the prisoners and the guards. In her new job at the hospital, she befriends a young girl who is dying of an incurable disease. Lexi fights to survive this hell. She won’t let it completely destroy her. Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki’s debut novel, Branded (first in a Sinners series), is a heart-wrenching story about surviving in a prison where no one cares if you claim you were innocent.

This is a great book. I like the incorporation of the seven deadly sins. People accused of committing sin is branded with the color of their sin around their necks. The list of the brand colors is:

 Lust – Blue

Gluttony – Orange

Greed – Yellow

Sloth – Black [traditional color is Light Blue]

Wrath – Red

Envy – Green

Pride – Purple

The plot is not easily determined until the end. I had to reread one of the chapters to make sure I understood what happened. Everything about the book becomes much clearer at the very end.

Lexi Hamilton, the protagonist, annoyed me. She forgives some of the characters too easily, and she frequently lets people claim they know what’s best for her without telling her anything. When she is given a letter from her late father, she accepts everything he says without reservations. Lexi claims to want freedom, but it never seemed apparent until the end, and it was only said. What I do like about her is her ability to ignore others’ brands – the only exception to this is when she is getting attacked.

Cole, the leading male, is in an in between state for me. I can’t tell if he is flat or round. I like him as a person and as Lexi’s love interest. But I can’t recall much change or depth to his character.

I found two themes that are not strictly told. One is survival. The other theme is that one should always try to show kindness and compassion to others at all times and places, even Hell. Lexi takes care of Alyssa, a young girl who is terminally ill. She sees the young girl to her end. She starts counting Alyssa as a sister as well. It was mainly her moments with Alyssa that brought out the tears.

For an e-book, I didn’t notice any errors. My only issue with the formatting is that the print was large (I prefer 10-12 pt font). Setting the font to the smallest size on my Kindle put it at about 12-pt font.

This is a good book for those who love dystopian novels. While there is some romance, there isn’t enough for me to make this a romance recommendation. Despite including the seven deadly sins, Branded does not fall under Christian fiction.

Genres: Dystopian YA, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars


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