Saturday, January 24, 2015

December 18, 2014: 'Branded'

Welcome to Book City
Date: December 18, 2014

Spoilers Ahead

*Note: I didn't realize I hadn't published this. Whoops...

Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

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.

City Calendar:
This is what happened during the week.
Lexi is taken to the Hole and branded for lust. She is guarded by Cole. She goes to the orientation for her job at the hospital. On the way back, she is attacked, but Cole protects her. She hurts her ankle. She goes to work for the first time. She sees an execution on the way. Cole has his guard friends over at  their rooms, and Lexi doesn't stay to watch. She goes to work another day and sees a dead patient. After being reassigned to Alyssa, she tries to coax the sick girl out of her shell. Lexi finds a book to read to Alyssa. Alyssa loves it. To make Alyssa happy, she finds a girl who has makeup and puts it on Alyssa. She asks Cole  to be Alyssa's date for a night. She stays with Alyssa after Alyssa's date. Alyssa worsens. Cole goes out for a job one day. A drug addict comes in for the morphine Alyssa has. Lexi fights, throwing a chair out the window to attract Cole's dog Zeus's attention. The addict gets a tainted bag of morphine. Alyssa dies soon after. Lexi follows her body to the crematorium where she is cornered by guards on her way up to the eighth floor. She is almost raped but is saved by Cole. Cole helps Lexi go through the process of washing Lexi's hair. C gets a friend Bruno to watch Lexi while Cole trains to keep up a semblance of normality. Sutton checks up on Lexi and takes out her stitches. Bruno starts to teach Lexi self-defense. Cole tells Lexi he has to go on a mission to find and eliminate Lexi's brother Keegan. Cole leaves. Bruno trains Lexi. Both flee the building when Bruno thinks people found out about him guarding Lexi. They go to the hospital to hide. Cole comes back, saying he let Keegan escape. Cole and Lexi kiss, admitting feelings for each other. A lockdown happens. Lexi goes to work. Wilson takes Lexi, confronting her and making her think about a deal to find Keegan. Lexi kisses Cole, and Wilson comes back. Lexi finally makes the deal with Wilson with Bruno watching. She flees to the doctor Sutton. Sutton tells them to Keegan. They go to Keegan who welcomes his sister back with open arms. Keegan separates Cole and Lexi. Lexi trains, becoming stronger each day. For the mission, Keegan makes Lexi part of his team. The attack happens. Soldiers catch the rebels. Only a few on Keegan's team makes it to the Commander's mansion. Lexi and Keegan find the camera room and see Sutton and the Commander arguing. It is revealed that Sutton is the Commander's brother. The Commander and Keegan fight. Sutton is shot, and Keegan is killed. Cole jumps in, killing the Commander when Lexi can't. (The Commander being her abusive step-father.) The rebels flee to Lexi's namesake Lexington Bay. 
And that's what happened this week.

Personal Ads:
Lexi Hamilton.
Branded for lust. Almost raped by stepfather. Abused. Dead father. Missing brother. Wants to fight back. Likes Cole. Cares for people. Caring. Scared of being hurt. 

I've heard a lot of praise for this book. I will admit how disappointed I was. I think that I'll stop reading books everyone else loves. Seems like I always end up hating them. I end up on the opposite end this time. Black sheep of the group really. 
I really liked Sutton. His kindness to everyone. He was a truly warm-hearted person. He cared. For everyone. He loved his friends like family. He is, by far, one of the best people in the entire book. He is kind. Funny. Caring. I admire that. He only wanted the best. I, like Lexi, was distraught to find out that he was shot. Poor Sutton. He only wanted the best for everyone. 
The theme of good versus bad was intriguing. The sinners versus the guards. The outside versus the inside. It's a person's job to determine who is good and who is bad. It's always a struggle. Always. The story was interesting on how it expanded on this theme. Lexi being conflicted between loving and hating Cole. Her caring for Alyssa but she dying. (Though, that was predicted to happen anyways.) It's the versus that is always interesting. The rebels. The themes in this book were quite interesting. I wasn't fond of the book, but the themes it exuded were typical themes and well executed. 
The premise was good. I thought it would be interesting. The Hole. A place where sinners rot. Lexi unfairly branded by lust. Falls in love? Oh gosh. I expected an action story. A rebel. I didn't find that. The premise was good. It really was. It wasn't expected. Not something done before. The seven deadly sins are simply interesting. You got to love the idea. Greed. Lust. Pride. Wrath. Envy. Gluttony. Sloth. It's interesting to see how a storyteller approached the subject. Though, it is slightly religious just because. I think these two did a good job weaving the seven deadly sins into the story. I wanted more brands, though. More Wraths. More Envys. It would have been interesting to see Lexi, the darling dear, fight a Wrath. Just saying... 
I didn't like the romance. Man. The romance. Stop thinking about it. Kiss him. We know you want to. Get it over with. I typically don't encourage death to a character, but Cole and Lexi were asking for it. I wanted them to get caught just to die. It was annoying. I typically enjoy the 'We can't be together' relationships like in Wesley Ayers and Mac from 'The Archived', but this book drew that to another level. They were aggravating apart. Together was worse. Lexi went through Cole-withdrawal. She was whiny without him. Weak. Confused. Lost. He was the typical mushy guy. I was expecting him to hold a boom-box over his head and toss flower petals at her feet. Blegh. He was not very into it. I think Keegan was right. For once... He thought Cole was using Lexi. I think so too. If they weren't worried about guards or being caught, they would have had sex long before anything else happened in the book. I think that these two are just blinded by lust. Really. Is that what the authors are hoping for? I hope so. They succeeded. Lexi seemed too into the relationship. And Cole did not. 
Or Lexi. Whiny. Annoying. 'Don't touch me' Lexi. Gosh. I wanted to shake her so hard... She was by far one of the worst dystopian girls I've ever read. Ever. Maybe one of the worst girls in my entirety of reading. And I've read 'Isla and the Happily Ever After', folks. She annoys me so much. She is so weak that she relies entirely on Cole. For everything. I was excited when she decided to fight, when she wanted to learn self-defense. But her 'take charge' attitude went backseat to hot-and-heavy scenes with Mr. Guardman himself. Man. Did that annoy me. Lexi had potential to be great. I thought her emotional torture was a good plot point. (Not that I would ever condone rape. But I say that she was struggling. A bad past. It intrigues you, makes you want to know why they do things they do.) Her change into a fighter was interesting. But no. We had to read the kissing scenes while Lexi grew stronger. But her training was quick. Short. And I'll say that it seemed impossible to have muscles in that short span of pages. 
Or Cole. He is needy. I think he really is using Lexi. He doesn't really care for her. He sees a pretty face. That  much is repeated over and over. Cole acts like he owns the world. Like he's the best. News flash. You're not. I feel like young adult is overusing tough guys. I want a weaker guy who can't bench anything more than fifteen pounds. A guy who isn't like Cole. Gosh. Cole is the stereotypical jock. Annoying. Mildly jokey. Likes the pretty girl. Tough. Buff. Handsome. Why oh why? Can't we get a weaker character? It is true that buff guys bring in the money. I know that. But why can't we have a guy that people can relate to? All the guys I know are pretty...skinny. Pretty...muscle-less. What guy can relate to Cole? Definitely not one that reads. (I'm not trying to judge. But...Cole. Get a grip on reality. Most guys his age are in college. Or working McDonald's. Or maybe at a different job. Or at home. Or in the army. Not benchpressing two hundred pounds a day and having rock-hard abs. Unless you know different.)
The quick ending was also annoying. We had such a great building. Would it work? Would they survive? Who would be shot? Who would die? Would the mission even work? What if Cole simply...disappears? We had a rushed ending. The plot was blasting through the mission. Something I had been waiting for. The action. Less kissing. More fighting. What do we get? Only a few pages of actual fighting. Fun. 
The training seemed to take only less than fifty pages. How can she become that muscled in such a short span of time? That takes time. Effort. Sweat. Blood. She seems to be perfect at it. (Too perfect.) She doesn't really get hurt. Only, you know, a few bruises. A few scars. While other books take the entire book to train, this one takes a chapter. Maybe less. I'm not sure. It's annoying. How can you learn to fight in such a short time? Yes. She trained with Bruno. For how many days? A week? Two? Time seems irrelevant here. Really.
And the fast plot. Goodness. All the good actions scenes seem to skip all the good parts. The action is breezed over to make way for the romance. Yes. Lexi 'loves' Cole. They gotta kiss. All day. Every day. That definitely is what teenagers are like. That's definitely what teenagers want. The hot guy sucking a hot girl's face off. One word. Blegh. I prefer the action. The fighting. We skip over the good parts for sucking face. Yes. Indeed. We jump through each scene like nothing happened. Great. It's fast. Too fast. Hard to keep up with. The only scenes that take longer are romance ones. Does anyone else notice how fast the plot is? It's like weeks pass with only a few pages. I swear. That's how it actually was written. Which annoys me to no end. Weeks take more than a chapter. 

Cloudy with a dense fog 

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