Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Branded - Keary Taylor

Keary Taylor
Series: Fall of Angels, #1
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Interesting
On Goodreads

There was a time a few months ago when I was binge-one-clicking free eBooks on Amazon – Branded was one of those. In my dilemma to choose a new book, I was scrolling through the ridiculous amount of eBooks I own and I chose Branded, to be completely honest, because it had a really pretty cover. I mean, the cover is just stunning (I see a Cover Cosmetics in your future, Branded). Anyway, I basically devoured this book on Christmas Eve, and while it was far from perfect, I found Branded to be very enjoyable.

When I started reading the book, I didn’t even remember what it was about – not even a little – but the premise of the story comes into play right away. We find out in the beginning of Branded that Jessica tries to sleep as little as possible because when she does she has terrible nightmares. These nightmares are not your average nightmares though – in these nightmares, Jessica stands trial for the dead in front of a panel of angels. During the trials, the good and bad deeds of the person are made known. If the person has lived a life of good, he is exalted and sent to heaven. If not, he is condemned, branded with a hot iron, and sent to hell. But here’s the crazy part – when the person on trial is branded, so is Jessica. After every nightmare, Jessica wakes up screaming and often in pain from a new branding.

Even though this is the main idea behind the story, I found that there wasn’t really much of it throughout the book. Rather than a paranormal dominated by her nightmares and why she has them, most of the story is dedicated to Jessica coming out of her shell and beginning to trust people. Of course the nightmares have a deeply psychological affect on her, it is certainly not the center of this story until the end. Another somewhat misleading aspect of the blurb for this book is that it sounds like there is a love triangle. Let me tell you, there is no love triangle. Like, not at all. Sure, there are two guys, but there is no competition between them. Not even a little. Nope. So if you hate love triangles, you certainly don’t have to worry about that in this one.

For the romance, however, it was a bit insta-love-y. I am by no means opposed to insta-love but usually I like it in young adult rather than a story like this. Jessica is 20 and her love interest, Alex, is 23. Alex is super charming and perfect and rich and kind and understanding to Jessica. He literally does no wrong throughout the whole book – he has no flaw. The only thing he sort of does is get upset out of jealousy, but not to worry – he goes and apologizes about it right away! He was just too perfect. I enjoyed his charm, but if he had moments of flaw I think he would have been that much more enjoyable. Someone that perfect just isn’t believable.

Jessica, on the other hand, is nowhere near perfect, which is fine. She is broken by her memories of the nightmares and how they have ruined every relationship she’s ever had – family, friends, and basically everyone. Jessica’s past was sad – her mother thought she was crazy and wanted her to be institutionalized, so Jessica had to run away and start a new life on her own at 16-years-old. Is the fact that a 16-year-old can just run away, get a job, find someplace to live, and not have anyone looking for her believable? Not really, but that’s Jessica’s story.

At the start of the book, all she has is the somewhat odd next-door neighbor, Sal, who she takes care of. I felt bad for Jessica and how the nightmares that have plagued her for her entire life have left her alone and afraid to make connections. I mean, yes, you do sound crazy when you tell people you have to face angels in your sleep and then you often get branded and the branding remains on your neck after you wake up. That’s because it is crazy. Thinking back on it, I don’t even understand how Alex just took this information when Jessica told him. He doesn’t even question it. Not at all. Nope. He just perfectly wrapped his arms around her for comfort. If only we all had our own perfect Alex.

Anyway, after meeting Alex Jessica decides she needs to act like a real person and do things. She decides to take a yoga class and befriends her yoga instructor, Emily. It was nice to see Jessica face her problem, realizing that she had been locking herself away from the world and that she needed to get out and interact with people.

Now you’re probably wondering about the other boy I mentioned earlier. No? Well, I’ll tell you a little about him anyway. Where Alex is the most perfect person of perfection that ever was perfect, Cole is even more beautiful and obsessed with Jessica and sort of creepy. When Cole moves in two doors down from Jessica, he immediately turns the charm on to her. Cole wants nothing more than Jessica, as it turns out, and he’ll do anything to have her. Cole has a very little role in the story until the end. I suppose his strong “I want you so bad” vibe was too much for Jessica and she tried to stay away as much as possible. Good for you, Jessica. You go, Jessica.

The thing that has me most conflicted about this story is the ending. While there were times in the book that seemed to drag, having too much unnecessary detail, the ending was almost too quick. Lots of things happen in the end without much chance to fully comprehend what will happen as a result. I FELT SO MANY FEELS. The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but we have almost no idea what will happen as a result of the ending. I’m not entirely sure if I’m happy with the end of Branded, but I am anxious to start the next book, Forsaken.

Overall, I did enjoy Branded. I think this book could use a bit more editing – there were a lot of typos, grammatical errors, and general wordiness – but it has a lot of potential. Keary Taylor was able to tell a story with such a different concept. I was able to predict some of the twists early on in the book, but I still think she was rather successful in her execution. I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future, starting with Forsaken!

- Kiersten

What would you do if you woke up from a nightmare with a branding on the back of your neck?
Let us know in the comments!

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