I've been reading some of the reviews and ratings here and I feel like the odd one out. I didn't believe this to be some kind of special Dystopian YA, even though it had a very good premise.
Lexi is about to be branded blue for lust. She will then be thrown into the Hole, a place where all criminals are kept. The downfall of society was caused by the seven deadly sins. So, everyone who shows signs of one of them will be branded with their sin and removed from civilized society. Survival of the strongest is likely to be the only rule in the Hole.
Blues usually don't survive long in the Hole. They're easy prey for the real criminals and (sexually) frustrated people. And even though Lexi is already suicidal even before she enters the Hole, she then changes her mind and is desperate to survive this ordeal. How? For some reason she's assigned a personal bodyguard named Cole (and guess what, she's his first female assignment).
It's obvious that Lexi is getting some help from outside the Hole, as she's also assigned one of the few good (as in not prostitution) jobs in the Hole, nurse in the hospital. Even more seems off, because, who's this Commander? One critical note towards the hospital though; they don't have the money to buy morphine, but at the same time there are people working on a vaccine to some kind of virus? How does that work? Creating a vaccine cost millions (billions perhaps); how come they don't have money to buy morphine then?
-Some spoilers ahead-
Lexi annoyed me. At times it almost looks like she is about to become a competent nurse, but then for some reason she falls back into her very unoriginal instalove infatuation with Cole (Stockholm syndrome?) Even witnessing what happened with other people who embark on a relationship between guards and prisoners (namely, execution) isn't enough to put her off the idea and keep to more pressing matters like staying alive. In the second half she'll transform into one kick ass fighter with less than a week of training, while the men - Cole and a surprise family member - are fighting over the fact if she should or shouldn't help fighting in the important battle. How nice of them.
For me, the first half dwelt far too much on the instalove romance plot. I'd liked to know more about the Hole, the rules and more importantly, what exactly happened that lead to the instalment of the Hole. The second part was a generic Dystopian YA training/fighting plot as can also be see in Divergent and many other books. So all in all, I was a bit disappointed and I don't really feel like continuing this series now (but perhaps in a few months I might give it another try).
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Branded is the first book in the Sinners series. The second book Hunters is expected to be published March 31st 2015.