Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Monday, June 10, 2013
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)
Genre: Dystopia
Publisher: Hyperion Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Source: Gifted from a friend
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.
Summary from Riffle. 
For the past few months, I've had a deep skepticism when it comes to dystopians (perhaps because the market is oversaturated, or maybe I just personally got tired of them). But lately, I've read some fantastic dystopian novels that have reminded me why I love this genre, and The Darkest Minds stood apart from them all.

What made this such a phenomenal read? The characters, by and far. Ruby, the protagonist, grew on me as the book went on. Although her experiences are unlike anything I (and most readers) have ever been through, her emotions are easily understandable. It's the supporting cast, though, that really stand out. Liam (oh, he'll make you melt), Zu, and especially Chubs are just perfectly created. Chubs, much to my surprise, became my favorite character by the story's end. His development is done so naturally and his attributes are revealed in small but endearing ways. Zu is another great example of Bracken's skill; she doesn't say a single word the entire novel, but is one of the sweetest, funniest characters. One of the challenges of a first book in a series is to get readers fully invested in the characters so early on in their stories, but Bracken succeeded. It's because of this cast that I choked up twice during TDM.

So yes, you could definitely say that this book is packed with emotion. It's a rollercoaster ride- to use a cliche- one that I couldn't put down. Because there's just as much action as there is emotion. You never know what's going to come next, but whenever anything is going well for these kids, you know that's going to change fast. Some parts are the literary equivalent of an action movie, and it's just awesome.

Adding to the awesome is the world Bracken has created, which is almost a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. What's really fascinating are the politics that spring up, not just in the government, but between the kids, because of their various powers. There's no one the main quartet can definitely trust except each other, which lends the book a Lord of the Flies atmosphere.

There were a few things I had questions about; I felt there was very little information about the disease and how the powers came about, but that could be because Ruby knows very little herself (and the story is told through first person narration). Most likely, we'll find out more in the sequel, Never Fade, which I'm dying to read. And if you read The Darkest Minds, you'll understand why.
*5 stars*
For Fans Of: The Eve Trilogy by Anna Carey
Do characters make a story for you? Or does another aspect of a novel draw you in?


  1. I really liked the main character's name. Well and, okay, I got to meet the author (briefly) at BEA last year.

    I read the line where you said that Ruby knows very little herself and I thought, so true! Except that I thought it said that she knows very little about herself--and I think that's what's true. It's one of the things I love about the first person perspective--everything is so skewed and the narrator may not even know it.

  2. hello! okay so i just got never fade today and when i started reading i had some trouble. its been a year since i read TDM, and i can't remember who some of the characters are. i loved loved loved loved TDM and i am so excited fro NF, but i can remember who robb and cate and vina are. i know everyone else though. if you remember, and would tell me, that would be superb. thank you!!!

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