Dystopian, Young Adult

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Amazon.com: The Darkest Minds (A Darkest Minds Novel ...

Pages: 528

Series: The Darkest Minds #1

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Genre(s): Fantasy with Romantic Elements

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“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.”

What Did I Think?

 Supernatural powers meets dystopian landscape meets cross-country adventure while avoiding the eyes of the authorities? Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but The Darkest Minds was DOPE. Continue reading for all the deets!

The overall concept of The Darkest Minds was both intriguing and disturbing (like most dystopian tales). I liked the fact that this book is kind of like those superhero movies in that children have these crazy cool powers that also just so happen to intimidate adults, resulting in the kids being sent away (or worse). Having the children’s gifts all falling under a color seemed so simplistic at first, but I think it was the perfect choice to help keep the associated powers straight in the reader’s mind. The word-building, descriptions of various settings, and all the events that were taking place could easily be visualized by the reader, and I found myself completely engaged in all the action from beginning to end. As a whole, The Darkest Minds was unlike any of the other dystopians I’ve read in the past in terms of its overall concept, and, while a little upsetting at times given that children are the main focus of the misfortunes in the book, I enjoyed being immersed in this fictional world.

While the characters and their development often took a backseat to the plot, I appreciated the amount of diversity I saw in this group of characters. As a whole, I liked our protagonist, Ruby, and I think a lot of readers can relate to her quiet, reserved personality. It was good to see her come out of her shell and start fighting for what she wants by the end. However, I did find Ruby to be a little immature and naive, but given the fact that she’s so young, I tried to overlook this as much as possible. There were just times where I found it frustrating because even though she’s clearly been through a lot in her short 15/16 years of life, I expected these memories to shape her and, realistically, I think her life experience thus far would have likely forced her to grow up more quickly. In the next book, I hope to see a little more maturity from Ruby, and I look forward to seeing how the events in The Darkest Minds shape her character moving forward.

Moving right along to my man, Liam. I absolutely loves his character, even though he does embody the “ideal” male lead, in a lot of ways. In addition to being the total dad friend to the whole gang of runaways, I appreciated the fact that he also tried to think logically through things rather than just jumping headfirst into the unknown. His level of maturity definitely balanced out what I found lacking in Ruby’s character. Liam carries a lot of baggage from his past with him, and I appreciated seeing his more vulnerable moments of reflection on these memories, as it made his characterization much more realistic. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Liam in Book #2!

You didn’t think I was going to write this whole review and not mention Chubs and Zu, did you? While their personalities are starkly different from each other, I really enjoyed the balance the two of them brought to the crew. Zu doesn’t talk, but I love how quickly she can get her point across by just the arch of an eyebrow. She’s certainly stubborn and has a strong personality, even though she is so young and has witnessed some pretty terrible things in her life. Chubs, the brains of the operation, was an absolute HOOT. His comebacks are legendary, and, even though it was annoying at times, I had mad respect for the fact that he wasn’t quick at all to warm up to Ruby until he knew she had good intentions. If there was one stand-out element of this entire book, I’d have to say that Chubs and Zu take the cake for being one of the main reasons why I enjoyed The Darkest Minds as much as I did.

Overall, I had so much fun reading The Darkest Minds, even when I hit some pretty sad/upsetting parts (Hey, it’s a dystopian. Can’t expect all rainbows and butterflies). I loved the fact that I felt like I was actually the fifth member of the Black Betty crew, going on all the gang’s adventures with them. I though the plot was very well paced, and each event flowed well into the next without too much lag. Given all the plot twists and that CRAY ending, I’m really looking forward to picking up Never Fade in the near future!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re in the mood to read a fast-paced dystopian that’s full of adventure and fairly dark with some little rays of sunshine peeking though, The Darkest Minds will likely be right up your alley.

I’d also recommend this book to fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, and Victoria Aveyard.

And, as obvious as it sounds, if you’ve read any of Bracken’s other books (Prosper Reading series, Passenger series, Star Wars novels, etc.), and enjoyed them, I highly suggest you check out The Darkest Minds!