Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Synopsis: When the illness that killed most of America’s children struck, Ruby was more concerned with arranging her stuffed animals than the possibility that she might not live to see her tenth birthday. Ruby survived, but at a cost. Like all of the survivors, Ruby developed strange abilities that could not be explained. Ruby was taken away to one of the “rehabilitation” camps to be “saved” but little did anyone know: Ruby was more dangerous than anyone was led to believe. “The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
Six years later, Ruby knows that her life can never be the same no matter what anyone tells her. When Ruby is rescued by a mysterious organization she has to think fast: can she trust these people, or do they plan to use her for their own devices?
Book Trailer: *Note: I did not make this trailer, Hyperion Teens did.*
Review: The Darkest Minds was the type of entertaining, yet somewhat depressing story that will keep readers hooked from beginning to end. At 488 pages this was not a short book, but it was extremely addicting. That was perhaps my favorite aspect of this story, it’s the type of book to get lost in.
The characters were a diverse group with some of the characters utterly lovable and others utterly hateable. As for our main character, Ruby, she was at times appropriately depressed for someone in her situation. On the other hand, I can see how this character trait might come off as annoying to some readers. At other times however, the author deviated from how I might expect someone as uneducated as Ruby to act in the of using cultural references Ruby likely would not have known to improve the writing. I’d like to point out that it’s difficult to write from the perspective of a character whose day to day experiences or culture is almost entirely the reverse of the writer’s own. All the same, I would have enjoyed an explanation for Ruby’s extensive pop culture knowledge that ten-year-old me most certainly would not have possessed.
As for the three main side characters, Zu, Liam, and Chubs, I enjoyed their characters more than Ruby’s, however, their entrance into the story made me roll my eyes. I’m not going to spoil anything but it just felt like the author had decided the time was right for her side characters to enter and suddenly there they were.
Most of the story line was largely predictable and hard to follow (particularly at the beginning). I hate an info dump as much as the next person but some more explaining was definitely needed as some of the back story and motives of characters simply didn’t make sense to me (ie How does this society expect to sustain itself when having children is illegal? Why was the disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Nerodegeneration when everyone it effected was a child or preteen? Was that a rape scene?). As a matter of fact, until I went back and read the synopsis of the book I was almost completely lost. But, I suppose that might be Ms. Bracken’s way of leaving the story open for book two or keeping readers engaged and constantly questioning story elements.
It should be noted that this book did end with a cliffhanger. Although this ending was largely predictable, it was still a bit heart wrenching. So I recommend that readers who hate cliffhangers wait for the release of book two or three before reading this one. The story was not perfect, but I felt as though it could have appeal to a relatively diverse reading demographic which is always a plus.
Quotes: “You can destroy a factory, and they’ll build another. But once you destroy a life, that’s it. You never get that person back.”
“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.”
Rating/Recommendations: I’ve been going back and forth with this one on whether to give it a 3.5 or a 4. In the end I decided to go with 3.5/5 for a highly engaging story line but some elements that fell short of my expectations. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read many dystopian novels and is looking for a book that has a similar mood to The Hunger Games but with enough original elements that it doesn’t feel like a copy.