Written by Alexandra Bracken
Published December, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Dystopian, Psychics, Survival
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When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
The Darkest Minds initially looked like a daunting read, but I shouldn’t have been worried. I flew through this book in less than 24 hours, carried along by the fast-paced plot and non-stop action. Alexandra Bracken has mastered a particular art of storytelling – one that combines interesting and emotion-filled characters with an intriguing and intricate world.
I have been wanting to read one of Alexandra Bracken’s books for quite some time and I had heard nothing but brilliant things about The Darkest Minds and this series as a whole. After devouring over 300 pages in one sitting, I can now understand why!
The Darkest Minds has so many interesting portions to it: Thurmond, Cate and the League, Black Betty & the Gang, an abandoned Wal-Mart and ultimately East River. Though all these little plotlines are linked, they are also self-contained and Alexandra Bracken does an excellent job at keeping the adventure moving forward. There are no boring bits in this book!
It’s not your average dystopian tale, either. The world (well, America as far as we know) has been decimated – but not by a zombie plague or nuclear bomb. Children have been wiped out by a mysterious disease… and those that survived? They have one of five psychic powers, branded by colours that deem their ability to inflict harm.
Our narrator, Ruby, is the most dangerous – an orange hiding out in one of the work camps as a Green. Although I never felt I really connected with her personally (or related to her) I didn’t have any complaints when it came to experiencing the story through her eyes. She certainly grows up from her beginnings at Thurmond and I am eager to see how much further she advances as the series progresses.
That being said, a lot of her actions were predictable and I just wanted to shake my head and be like ‘NO, RUBY! DON’T DO THAT THING I THINK YOU’RE GOING TO DO!’ (Particularly in the final chapter with Liam).
I do like how slowly her romantic relationship with Liam progressed. Alexandra Bracken made sure that the romance plot wasn’t the main focus of this story – and they’re the type of dystopian romances I enjoy. When I read a book like The Darkest Minds, I want the forefront to be the world and the struggles to survive within it. The world created within this series is fantastic and I can’t wait to find out more about it.
Threats come from all sides in this book: the Government and its agents, the Children’s League, freelance bounty hunters and surprisingly, other Psi children. I didn’t have any trouble picking up on who the mysterious ‘Slip Kid’ would be, but he still remained such an interesting and devilish character. He was a fantastic addition to the story, changing the playing field completely.
There are small things in this book that really keep you thinking and add to the story as a whole. Things such as the letters the group carried around with them and Zu finding her cousin. It’s impossible to try and pinpoint what the ‘most important’ part of The Darkest Minds was, because it was all just as equally valuable. Everything that was included in this book made it what it was – a five-star read.
The secondary characters were incredibly fleshed out. Zu and Chubs made for excellent travelling companions, although one didn’t speak and one was incredibly annoying in his seriousness (it took a while for me to warm up to Chubs – he reminded me of ‘Simon’ from the Chipmunks, hah!) It’s not often that you find secondary characters that have as much of a personality as the focal ones, so I applaud Alexandra Bracken for that!
I am more than excited to continue the journey in Never Fade.
Recommended to: If you’re looking for a new dystopian read that will blow you away, try The Darkest Minds! You won’t be able to put it down.