The Darkest Minds (Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken (2012)
YA Fiction | Dystopian | Paranormal
“When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.”
pooled ink Review:
I had been debating on reading this book for years but I would put it off, forget about it, remember it, want it, put it off, etc. Finally I seized the moment and grabbed a copy.
The story was quite good and definitely presented a very interesting vision for a near future.
Basically something weird starts happening to the kids in the U.S. as they near puberty. They begin showing powers and once they do they are collected and hidden within a camp (or more accurately a prison) where they are classified by color according to power and locked away until a cure can be found. Those who don’t show symptoms of powers, the majority, die before they can even dream about graduating from high school.
The life in Thurmond, the camp Ruby was assigned to, was pretty harsh and awful. I’m sure being in a regular prison for six years would be awful enough but this place seemed just cruel. It really is a wonder that Ruby didn’t go crazy stuck there especially after Sam. Really the whole experience couldn’t have been anything less than traumatic.
This in many ways is a survivor story. Ruby survives each cage thrown by fate and manages to pull through with her humanity. Ruby, despite slowly discovering the extent of her power as an Orange, consistently remains adamant against using them to harm anyone. She refuses to let it overtake her and turn her into a horror or a weapon. I like her. I wasn’t sure at first but it didn’t take too long for me to make up my mind. She may lack knowledge and skills from being locked away for so long but she’s a good person and nothing stops her from trying…at least not after that first shake of possibility.
Suzume, or Zu, is simply the cutest. She’s a Yellow and the little girl gives the story a touch of softness, a reminder of childhood, but also a sharp reality to the world’s situation. She was a brightness in a dark world and a fear-encumbered group.
Chubs, a Blue, is a salty dude but it’s really just a defense mechanism and a sign of how deep his loyalty, if won, will go. He adds the needed touch of fear and intelligence as well as an anchor of reality checks that the others are all too happy to push away. He grows on you. He really does. By the end of the book he’ll be your best friend. (Oh and he has terrible eyesight which I feel ya dude. If I were to ever lose my glasses it would be game over for me.)
Liam, also a Blue, comes across as an All-American hero of sorts and the glue that holds their group together as he takes leadership, action, and leaves enough room within himself to store a bit of compassion and hope. I like him. His kind dreams balance Chubs’ stark realism.
Really this whole group worked perfectly as they each learned what they have to offer and how to function as a team. More than a team actually. They really begin to meld into a family. A wonderful, maybe not perfect but definitely loving and loyal, little family that scurries around dodging enemies from every possible direction and they steal the heart of the story.
Oh my word, that ending though. It was perfect from a literary stand point but from a reader’s standpoint it was awful and terrible and gahhhhhhhhh!! I am feeling so many things but most of all I just need everything to be okay for them. The story bobbed ruthlessly between obstacles, betrayals, terror, and the occasional sweet soft moments of friendship and safety but those were short and far between. Honestly I almost don’t even care about what happens in the other books, I’d rather just read the conclusion to the series and find out if they’re going to be okay.
In some ways the story was pretty typical dystopian fiction. It was a thrilling ride, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part yeah it was exactly what you’d be looking for within the realm of a really good dystopian novel. The story didn’t draw me in immediately, it actually took a bit for me to sink into and what triggered that were the characters. The story was good of course, but the thing I genuinely came to care about were the characters in it. I really don’t care what happened, I don’t care how all these warring tribes, terrorist groups, and government troops choose to battle things out, I don’t care how freedom is won (assuming that it will be in the end), I just care about Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu.
The plot was filled with action, suspense, secrets, deception, hidden agendas, as well as plenty of roller coaster rides of trying to sort out what exactly had happened, what was happening, who to trust, and what to do next. The characters were filled with a resounding reality, normality, and truthfulness that breathed from the pages that spoke of a world filled with the abnormal and the darkest lies.
The Darkest Minds is a non-stop rush of chaos as the children of America run until they can’t run any further. Filled with characters that lift off the pages and a story that pounds with ruthless durability, this book marks the beginning of an intense series roaring with sacrifice, betrayal, lost childhood, and freedom. A must read for any dystopian fiction fan.
Purchase here: The Darkest Minds
Meet Alexandra Bracken!
Hi! I’m Alex and I write books. xx A -Goodreads