I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for my stop on the blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.
BRANDED is everything I could have hoped for and more. Beautiful, haunting, and a story that will stay with me for a long time, I was left wanting more. I can't express enough how much emotion this book brought out in me, not to mention the wide array of them. There were moments I laughed and others I cried. There were moments I felt incredible injustice and others where I felt hopeful.
Lexi is a character who is vulnerable yet strong - she's accused of Lust, branded, and sent to a prison known as the Hole. She gives bits and pieces of her former life before the accusation, and everything starts to come together as to how she was wrongly accused in the first place. She's been through hell before she was sent to the Hole, and it almost seemed like the Hole is less of a hell compared to what she went through before she got there.
Cole is one of the guards who works in the Hole, and his assignment is to keep Lexi alive. She's beautiful and seen as a whore by the other prisoners ("Sinners") and guards, and many of them want her dead. Lexi and Cole fall in love, but love between a Sinner and a guard is punishable by death. They have to keep it a secret, but others begin to catch on to their secret. I was on the edge of my seat, twisted up with anxiety that they would be found out and killed - not just because I loved both of their characters so much, but also because they would be tortured agonizingly slow before their deaths.
I felt so many different emotions while reading BRANDED and didn't want to put it down. I couldn't stop thinking about it before I went to sleep at night, and I know I'll be thinking about it for a long time - all the horrors in the Hole as well as in Lexi's life before she's accused, the hope and strength of Lexi and Cole, and the love between them. Seriously, I can't recommend this book enough. You need to grab a copy! And then wait with me for the next book to come out!