Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
You would enjoy this if: you like kids with superpowers, a very dark modern-set dystopia, amazing character development
Rating: 5 out 5
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 is possibly one of my favourite YA novels of all time. I first picked up the book in a French bookstore, attracted by the cover (I was looking for something darker that day, and TDM just drew me in). I didn’t know that Never Fade, which was sitting right beside it, was the second book, which was really frustrating for me after I’d finished it and found out that it wasn’t a novella, but the second book, which I could have gotten the same day, so that I wouldn’t have to wait to get it.
An epidemic has taken over in America, resulting in kids dropping left and right all across the country (it is said that half of Ruby’s fourth grade class had died, the numbers rising as you read on), all around Ruby’s age.
But there were those who lived, and those were the ones they feared.
They placed the children who lived in rehabilitation camps, to help them “recover” from what they’d gained after they’d survived IAAN — Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. The advertisements for the camps were misleading, made to believe that they were built to help the children, while really, they were built to beat them down with fear, so much so, that they would lose their wills to use the abilities they’d received after surviving IAAN.
Those who survived IAAN gained powers, classified as followed:
Green – Super Intelligent
Blue – Telekinetic
Yellow – Electrokinesis
Orange – Mind Control
Red – Pyrokinetic
Ruby Daly had not only lost her will to use her ability as an Orange (classified as a Green when she manipulated her tester’s mind to classify her as such), but her will to even make connections to others. Ruby is frighteningly realistic, she is a protagonist you have to connect with. Ruby lost her only friend at Thurmond the same way she lost her parents. The loss of her friend did not only cause her to withdraw from connecting to other people, but made her fear herself because of what she’d done. Her anxiety is incredibly apparent when she meets the gang (Liam, Zu, and Chubs) in the van, and that fear is so undeniable as you go on to read how she attempts to get away from them so to save them from the darkness she was sure to bring.
Ruby develops so much throughout this book, from making lifelong friends with Zu and Chubs, to falling in love with Liam, she makes big steps to fighting against the six years of being fed and beaten with fear and pain and hatred; to heal herself from those wounds that won’t ever leave her, but that, we hope, will close, with only a scar to remind her of what she’s overcome.
**possible spoiler ahead
The ending of the book is sure to make you cry. I was finishing this up in class, and as soon as Ruby whispered “let me finish the story”, tears were swelling in my face. I couldn’t believe what was happening, and I just felt so so bad for Ruby and what she had to do, and for Liam, who had to suffer through that. When I finished the book, I quickly ran to the The Darkest Minds tumblr tag, and was quick to find that I was not the only one in shock, so really, this wasn’t just me -it was a lot of people. So you will cry, I promise you that.
The only thing that one might not like, because I felt this way while reading the book myself, is the cliche kids with superpower YA novel feel that you’re given while you go through the book. Not many things are explained, but you have to keep reading. I cannot stress this enough. All is explained in In The Afterlight, the third and last book of the series, and trust me, it is worth the read. The Darkest Minds series is a favourite of mine, but ITA is possibly my favourite book in the series.
All in all, I’ve given this book a 5 out of 5 stars, mainly because I’m biased, but also because I think it truly deserves it. Ruby is such an incredible protagonist that it is very very hard to stumble upon any plot holes that may or may not be in there. She is so realistic, you simply cannot help but connect to the way she’s reacted to the way she’s been treated and the way other children, such as herself, have been treated as well. If you’re looking for something dark, action-packed, with superpowered kids, and heartbreaking to fill your need for angst, then this is definitely the book for you. This is a haunting, terrifying tale of a Dystopian future that will keep you on the edge of your seat at every page.