2.5 Stars. Sad Face :(This book has SO MUCH PROMISE. The premise is awesome, and no matter how many YA dystopian I read, I love them all. So I was really excited to get this from Net Galley, especially after all of the raving reviews. But I feel like once I missed something that everyone else seemed to get. WHAT AM I NOT GETTING? This book started off strong and exciting but the appeal quickly turned to confusion and boredom for me.One big problem was the characterization of both Lexi and Cole. Lexi enters page one trying to hang herself...literally has a rope wrapped around her neck, ready to jump. That's when the bad guys come to drag her off to the Hole to be branded with the brand of the sin of lust. Instead of completing her goal, she gets the urge to live and runs away...to no avail, of course. This is explained later as a will to be able to CHOOSE how she goes out, not to be forced into it. Okay, I can somewhat understand that. Now on her way to the Hole, she hardens herself and wants to maintain her dignity...these evil people will NOT get her down! And yet she proceeds to whine and simper and swoon and shake and cower and cringe at nearly everything that happens to her. Cole steps in as her guard/love interest, and good grief does he ever have his work cut out for him! Even so, Lexi proceeds to become a competent worker, then back to a helpless damsel in distress, running up the stairs alone when she should be staying put, openly defying her protectors and doing things she is forbidden to do, etc...She started becoming the idiot girl in a B movie, going into the dark stairway with nothing but a flashlight and her boobs to protect her. But...wait for it...by the end of the book, Lexi is a badass fighter girl who has only trained for a week but somehow becomes some kind of tactical expert. It was just wierd. I know I went on a bit here, but I'm just trying to get my point across. Who IS Lexi? Is she the lonely, desperate girl, the competent nurse, the stupid, helpless bimbo, or the badass fighter?Cole also remained much a mystery throughout the story. Not only did not understand what he saw in Lexi, but I couldn't understand what she saw in him, either. There is no background info on him, no explanation of why he has chosen to hold to his morals. He's just there, and he's hot, and he doesn't try to rape Lexi. GIRL IS IN LOOOOOVE!!!!! After being with Cole for a couple of weeks, Lexi falls so desperately in love with him that she is destitute when he has to be gone for a few days...literally cannot function without him. And this is while she is a nurse in a hospital. I'm in nursing school myself...I say, bye bye Lexi, you weak willed little girl! No need to ignore your patients because your boyfriend is gone away working for a bit. Go back to junior high and try healing people when you've grown up a bit.The last thing I'll mention is the timing of...well, basically everything. I'm still confused as to the actual time frame that everything happened in, but as far as I could tell, it all happened within a couple of months. Let me tell you, Lexi gets her ass handed to her a handful of times...they literally beat her unconscious more than once, and she sustains multiple head injuries during her short stay in the Hole. At one point, she has something like 26 STAPLES IN HER HEAD, which are taken out two days later. HUH?!?!?!?! Did I read that wrong? The doctor is telling her how he was picking bone fragments of her skull out of her head while he was stapling her, and mentions that she might have a concussion. Hahaha! I'd say that's a big ten four, good buddy...and I'd also advise you to keep those staples in her head for a wee bit longer, otherwise what's the point?I'm done now. I know that once again, I'm in the vast minority with my opinion. I simply don't understand all the five star reviews, because I find the flaws in this book very obvious. I think the second book might still be on my radar, which I would never normally do when I had this many issues with a book. But I honestly feel as if the writing was just very juvenile and unpolished. I think the author had a fabulous idea and an amazing world to put her characters through. She doesn't hesitate to be brutal, and she's not overly loyal to her characters. That's definitely a positive point for me, because the book was somewhat unpredictable. But in the end, I didn't care much for either Lexi or Cole, because they never became real to me. Their characters were too wishy washy, and the melodrama was over the top by miles and miles. If there had been more introspection, maybe some insight into what makes each of them tick, what it is that draws them together, I'd feel more for them.Arc provided by the publisher via Net Galley.