Branded (Fall of Angels, Book 1) Keary Taylor
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 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.
Score: 2 stars
Plot – 2
Characters – 2
Writing – 3
I saw this book was free on Kindle so downloaded it because the plot sounded interesting and and I thought I might get a good series out of it. Sadly, I was disappointed. It started so well – the main character desperately trying to fight off sleep and losing the battle against exhaustion, then a brutal and vivid dream of a man being judged by angels and condemned. I was instantly hooked on the setting.
And then the book got going and I felt like I had been lied to. Chapter two contains so many bad writing cliches. Starting the chapter with waking I could forgive, given the plot. But the mirror scene, the long drawn out description of every action she takes – seriously, I know how to pour cereal – and the repetitive writing made me wonder if I was reading another book.
The plot is predictable. There are no twists, it just seems that Jessica, the main character, is thick. Any person with half a brain would have put everything together from the moment things started happening. And that was far too late in the book. After the vivid and dramatic opening, not a lot happens for a while. We get introduced to Jessica’s life, her neighbour, and then the arrival of the impossibly perfect love interest, Alex, but no plot. When it does happen, it just happens to Jessica. Things are revealed with convenience, and other things are forgotten until they are necessary. Jessica is an amazing artist, for example, but that only comes up once when she needs to have something revealed to her by an old drawing.
The characters are flat. I wanted to like Jessica, but the more she failed to do anything, the less I could consider her as a worthy heroine. Alex is a cardboard cut-out of what an ideal man should be. He has no flaws. They fall in love instantly, despite the fact there doesn’t seem to be any reason for his attraction to Jessica. Emily and Cole are both plot bunnies, nothing more. The only one of any interest to me was Sal, Jessica’s neighbour who was beaten by her abusive husband. But even she is reduced to screaming “Plot!” at Jessica over and over by the end of the book.
The implied love-triangle is awkward, and any tension arising from it would have easily been solved if Jessica had been honest. “Hi, Cole. I was being friendly because you’re a new neighbour, but please don’t read anything more into it because I’m dating Alex.” “Hi, Alex. I was nice to the new neighbour, and he seems to have got the wrong message. Sorry about that.” There, problem solved. Because I didn’t care about the romance, the climax fell flat. I was only reading to get to the end by that point. Everything is tied up too neatly, the sacrifice is rendered pointless, and there wasn’t really much to make me want to find out about the plot, even if I had cared about the characters in the slightest.
Overall, I brilliant idea and first chapter, let down by a lack-luster book full of flat, dull, and stupid characters.