The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Quercus Children’s Books (17th Nov 2016)
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Format/Source: Paperback (sent by Pansing Malaysia for review)
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.
I was so pleased when I received The Darkest Minds trilogy for review. I really enjoyed Passengers and I was really looking forward to reading The Darkest Minds which was the must-read YA dystopian book when it first published in 2012. Maybe I was in the mood for something action-packed! Or I wanted to read about special abilities and characters kicking ass, so I read Alexandra Bracken’s debut novel and here’s what I thought of The Darkest Minds.
“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
Similar to typical YA dystopian fashion, The Darkest Minds is set in a post-apocalyptic world where it is no place for a child because of a pandemic plague that killed most of the children. Those who didn’t die from the plague have inherited gifts and abilities that make them a threat.
“They were never scared of the kids who might die, or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us-the ones who lived.”
In short, The Darkest Minds is about a group of teenagers who embark on a road trip, on a mission and trying their best to avoid being captured by their evil tormentors. If you like characters with supernatural abilities and some pretty cool action scenes, then you should give The Darkest Minds a go.
What did I like about The Darkest Minds? Hmm. How do I begin explaining my feelings for a book that has been so well-read and talked about by the YA community? Well, I’ll say that it’s a good dystopian novel, considering that it was written a few years back, during the time when dystopian novels were an “in” thing.
“Dreaming led to disappointment, and disappointment to a kind of depressed funk that wasn’t easy to shake. Better to stay in the gray than get eaten by the dark.”
At the beginning, I was really intrigued with what the book is about. Supernatural gifts? Yes, please. I like fast-paced books and sadly, one of the reasons why I didn’t like The Darkest Minds as much as I wanted to is because of the pace. Like, dude. The first 300 pages were such a drag. I don’t know if it’s me, but I found the first chunk of the book to be a struggle. (I thought Passengers had a really slow start too). The funny thing was, I felt like I read a lot of the book, but there was just so little that happened. I just thought it would have better more enjoyable if the book had picked up its pace before slugging to the conclusion. And it didn’t help that the book was plagued with overly detailed descriptions. (It’s 517 pages long.)
“I think maybe the most frustrating feeling in the world is to have something to say but not know how to put it into words. To have lived through something but not be able to get it out of you before it festers.”
I liked Ruby. I did but what frustrated me about her? She had no direction. I get that it’s the first book of a trilogy but I just didn’t like that she tagged along the gang. For me, this was the case of the other characters overshadowing the main character. To be honest, I was living for the rest of the gang. I really liked Liam and Chubs. The dynamics of their friendship was interesting to read about and I did enjoy reading about their past in a different camp. I am saving the best for last because I loved Zu, the youngest in the gang who has selective mutism. Even though she didn’t have any dialogue, I loved her. Bless her little pink-glove-wearing soul.
“Where in the world did you get that dress?”
“Present from Zu.”
“You look like you want to throw it in a fire.”
“I can’t promise there won’t be an unfortunate accident later on.”
I do like superpowers. I am a geek when it comes to superpowers. Probably the biggest reason why I decided to give this trilogy a go. The characters are divided into colour-coded groups based on their abilities. Maybe it’s me but I was really hoping for more action scenes where the characters used their powers. Like, hot damn. How cool would that be, huh?
Overall, The Darkest Minds had an interesting premise, considering that it came out in 2012 and dystopian books were the “it” books of YA. I would have liked it more if it were more fast-paced and not so draggy. I liked the relationship between Ruby and the gang, the dialogues were amusing and the superpowers were cool. It would be a while until I pick up the sequel, Never Fade since I am not in the mood for dystopian, but we’ll see.