You know that saying:
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?”
Well…I used to think it was a big ol crock of grade A crap thrust upon society by the world’s finest head shrinkers. (Obviously I wasn’t a very positive person back in the day.)
It wasn’t until I was much older, with the help of hindsight, determination and books that I found a grain of truth behind that statement. But, for the sake of argument (and the fact that this is supposed to be a book review, not a journal entry) let’s focus on the “book” aspect of that rather ridiculous confession.
Struggle, and the ability to overcome extreme circumstances have always been a part of literature. They are (essentially) the aspect of literature that connects a string of artfully placed words to human consciousness. (AKA: why people relate to characters or events in books.) Dystopian literature takes these two concepts (struggle and circumstances) and morphs them into the most extreme versions of themselves stating (in a rather bold fashion) that…if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. And we as readers cling to that.
Because I believe (at the end of the day) that we want to be the type of person that overcomes, defies, and proves our circumstances wrong. Like the characters in the books we hold so dear.
We want to be like Katniss or Tris or Lexi. We want to be…stronger.
First things first….let’s get the overtly obvious details out of the way. 1. Yes, this is a dystopian novel. The story (in its simplest state) rotates around a destructed society that is run by a mad man. (I’m talking no marbles or morals left type mad.) There are 7 deadly sins, if you commit one, you are thrown into a horrid prison called The Hole where you are branded according to your sin and left to fend for yourself against other offenders and a large army of malicious guards. 2. There’s a revolt. (Duh, there is always a revolt.) 3. There are emotional entanglements around each and every corner. (Again…duh.)
So, why does it warrant such a high rating if (as demonstrated above) it pretty much encompasses the same qualities as every other random dystopian on the market?
Because it’s NOT like every other dystopian on the market.
Yes, it’s built on predictable bones, but the story is unique and completely unwavering. From page one where an unknown girl is perched on a chair, rope in hand ready to take her own life, to page 380 where the same girl is surrounded by rubble and dead bodies…it’s NOT anything you have read before.
It’s fast. There are very few filler moments in the story, and when you DO run into one, it’s usually because someone has been injured, or…died. (Sad fact.)
The characters as so compelling and well developed that you find yourself gasping and sweating right along with them. (Even Zeus the dog, who I shed a tear or 10 for.)
The attention to detail when it comes to world building…astounding.
All of these together morph into one of the best stories I have read so far this year.
“Branded” in not just about one thing…it’s about many. And the individuality of each person involved makes sure you understand that.
Lexi is broken, but strong. Cole is strong but broken. Sutton is compassionate yet determined. Bruno is determined yet compassionate. Keegan is tortured. Alyssa is accepting. They are the everyday pieces that make up everyday people, which incites the reader to love them. Connect with them. Root for them. They are US in a cracked world where you are never innocent until proven guilty.
It’s hard to talk about this book without giving much away, (a quality I despise more than appreciate) which leaves me (of course) talking in riddles. But I can put THIS into plan English.
This book is wonderful.
And worth every penny you choose to spend on it. You will get frustrated with some characters, angry at others. But from where I’m sitting…that just means you are all in. Committed.
If you are a dystopian fan, you will LOVE this book. And when you read it, and I’m proven right…come back and chat with me. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “Responsibility is the price of freedom.” – Elbert Hubbard