Book Reviews

Review: “Never Fade,” Alexandra Bracken

May 24, 2014
Review: “Never Fade,” Alexandra BrackenNever Fadeby Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on October, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Psychics, Survival
Pages: 507

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Though I devoured The Darkest Minds pretty much instantly, I had trouble enjoying Never Fade as much. It had a lot to do with my high expectations, the pacing and the ‘all over the place’ plot. While assorted pit-stops and road blocks were charming in The Darkest Minds, I felt that the second book in the series overdid it.

Each time I put the book down it was a little heavier to pick up again.

New characters played a prominent role in Never Fade; most notably Vida and Jude. Despite Alexandra Bracken’s best intentions, I just couldn’t become attached to them the way I did with Liam, Chubs and Zu the first time around. Vida was foul-mouthed and cranky 100% of the time. She was pretty kick-ass, but my respect for her diminished every time she threw out some f-bombs, which was pretty regularly. I have no aversion to swearing or the use of bad language, especially when it can create or enhance a character, but after pretty much nothing in that department with this series so far, I was thrown off every time Vida opened her mouth.

As for Jude, well… he was just annoying. I felt like we were being pushed constantly into falling in love with him like some little lost puppy, and I hate feeling forced to either love or hate a character. I want to be able to experience those feelings for myself, on my own terms. And Nico? He was just ‘meh’. Probably the only new addition to this series that I actually enjoyed a lot was Liam’s brother, Cole. I think he’ll mix things up a bit and make things refreshing.

I really loved how the friendship between Ruby and Chubs was solidified in Never Fade, but unfortunately it seemed that that came with a cost. My love for Ruby and Liam as a couple dwindled and I just could not fathom how they had developed this deep, soul-grinding love for one another. This love seemed to even surpass Ruby’s mind sweeping abilities.

The Darkest Minds left on a cliffhanger, and I didn’t appreciate how easily this cliffhanger was rectified once Ruby and Liam were together. I was hoping that her new handle on her Orange powers would somehow make amends to the situation she’d put herself in at the end of the last book, but no, like everything else that happens to Ruby it seemed to happen out of sheer dumb luck.

I wanted the Ruby of Never Fade to be stronger than the Ruby of The Darkest Minds. Sometimes she got it, but most of the time she didn’t. I felt like she was constantly needing someone to rescue her or help her out despite her regular inner pep talks. And let’s not even mention how over the self-loathing I am when it comes to Ruby’s inner monologue. I really wanted some nice character evolution here. Ruby’s got the talk now, but she hasn’t mastered the walk!

This series has got a nice, masterful villain in Clancy Grey though. I knew he would be back and he didn’t disappoint with his plotting and scheming. Never Fade ended on an interesting note, too. I’m not too sure where things are going to go from here but I am excited to see the story advance and hopefully reach the AMAZING heights I felt it reached in The Darkest Minds. I by no means disliked Never Fade, but I was hoping for so much more.

Though I am in the extreme minority in not enjoying this one as much as the first, I am still in awe of how Alexandra Bracken can weave a story. There is no doubt about her talent as a writer when reading these books and while Never Fade was certainly well-written, I just didn’t find the same level of connection I did when reading its predecessor.

I will be continuing this series because I LOVE the world that she’s created. I am still holding out hope for Ruby, too. I want to see a resolution to the horror that is the camps and understand the origins of the disease. I want to see Zu again and find out if Ruby can ever go back to her parents. I want to see Clancy Grey suffer or redeem himself, whichever comes first.

Recommended to: If you loved the first book, you absolutely have to continue with Never Fade. A solid read.

About Alexandra Bracken

Alexandra Bracken wrote her first novel, 'Brightly Woven' as a birthday present for a friend, and the story grew and flourished during a year of unpredictable, wild weather. A native of Arizona, she is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she majored in History and English. She now lives in New York City.

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