Sunday, June 5, 2011

Branded - Keary Taylor

Summary:   Jessica's had the nightmares for as long as she can remember. Nightmares of being judged for people who have died, of being branded by the angels. Her friends and family think she's a crazy because of it all. Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can't ignore enter her life everything changes, including the nightmares. The two of them couldn't be more different. She will do anything to be with one of them. Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck. But one of the two has set events into motion what will pull her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.   (Summary and image from www.kearytaylor.com - Book given free for an honest review)

My Review:  Branded is a fairly clean YA paranormal romance with interesting premise surrounding a young woman who, for as long as she can remember, is condemned to torturous nightmares every time she falls asleep. I liked that the author deviated from the stereotypical harp-strumming, halo-wearing angels and threw in some seriously evil ones. However, while the plot showed creativity and had good “bones” (my term for liking the core aspects of a story), I had a hard time with the rest of it.

Branded did not feel like a fully fleshed out novel and my impression was that it was written by a relatively inexperienced writer. In addition to the handful of typos missed by an editor, parts of the plot felt melodramatic or contrived while others felt either undeveloped or laden with detail. The characters lacked dimension beyond their assigned roles as sexy bad guy, troubled best friend, and super hot perfect boyfriend. Yes, Alex was perfect, with his delightfully chiseled abs, mad guitar skills, and unshakable love for Jessica, but since I’ve decided to be completely honest I’m going to let you in on a little secret…come close so I can whisper it to you… I am so over perfect. Give me a few flaws, just so I can pretend a guy like that could actually exist.  Alex was very much a case of too good to be true.

While a younger reader might not notice some of this book’s less than subtle foreshadowing, I could not ignore the story’s predictability. It didn’t take more than a chapter to figure out Cole’s big secret, and this transparency extended to the rest of the book. I always knew what was going to happen next…with the exception of the last two chapters. I will say that the conclusion was probably my favorite part of the book. I’m not saying that to be mean, so don’t start sending me hate mail. I’m serious. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I liked how she wrapped things up, leaving certain loose ends untied.

I guess the most that I can say about this book was that the creative storyline shows the author has potential as a writer. While this one didn’t end up being my cup of tea, I think that her upcoming dystopian novel, Eden, looks both gorgeous and promising. Don’t believe me? Click here to visit Keary Taylor’s website.

SIDENOTE:  Since receiving this book for review, Keary has released a new and improved second edition of Branded.  While I didn't want to scrap this review entirely, I did want mention some of the changes that were made in the new edition.  According to the author, all of the typos have been fixed, weaker points in the writing have been shored up, and we learn more about Jessica's past than in the first edition, like why she is the way she is and reacts to things the way she does.  I hope that gives a clearer picture of the Branded that is currently available. 

My Rating: 2.75 Stars

For the sensitive reader: Like I said, this book is mostly clean. While there are a few close calls (those crazy kids) things stay pretty PG on a fairly regular basis.

Sum it up: An interesting story, but not likely to be her best work.

4 comments:

readingromances said...

One of the most beautiful covers I've seen this month!

Nat @ Reading Romances
Small Blogs, Big Giveaways

Mell said...

Spot on review Mindy. I read Branded as well as the follow-up, Forsaken. The lack of editing was really annoying, especially how every character says "ya" a lot and "alright". I also got the feeling that Taylor isn't comfortable with dialogue. There is a lot of synopsis of the conversation without actual he said she said.
Good bones, but not great writing, in either book.

MindySue said...

I love hearing that a review is "spot on". I am so glad you agree.

Anonymous said...

Probably the worst book I've ever read. So predictable. I felt like I was reading the same scene over and over. Jessica, the main character was boring. the author tries to make it suspenseful and thrilling but I felt like it was poorly executed. There was really no climax in the story. I skipped chapters and did not miss a thing. Here's an advice for those who want to read it: Read a few chapters after Cole is intrduced, then skip to chapter 28

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