The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: Review

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: December 2012
Length: 488 pages
Series: The Darkest Minds (#1)
Reason for Discovery: the Internet

From GoodReads:

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.
Something is happening to the children in the United States. They are dying in a sudden and unpredictable fashion. The nation isn't worried about these children. The nation is worried about the children who are surviving. These children have powers like we have never seen. 

One day, little Ruby exhibits some of these powers and sent to live in a rehabilitation camp. She lives there for six years. She gets the opportunity to escape and takes it. Through a series of fortunate circumstances, she meets three other kids like her, Liam, Chubs, and Zu, who take her in. Together they seek safety at the fabled East River camp for kids like them and a way to meet up with their families.

This book was so fantastic. I got sucked into Ruby's tale from the beginning, and I needed to see where everything ended up. I thought that Bracken did an excellent job of writing compelling and unique characters. Female lead characters in YA dystopian/post-apocalypse books are always the stereotypical "strong." Ruby is brave at times, but she is also scared and naive as well. She has been locked up for six years, and that life has beaten her down. She would not have survived the Hunger Games or being in the Dauntless faction. She wants to be a good friend and protect her loved ones, but she doesn't always know how to do that. She is written like the naive teenager that she is supposed to be. Liam, Chubs, and Zu are also written very well. Again, they could have been stereotypical characters (the cute one, the smart one, and the cute little girl), but they felt unique. I cared about these four characters. Yes, there was a bit of insta-love in this book, but the characters were written well enough that I could see why certain characters began to want to be more than just friends.

Let's talk plot (in a spoiler-free way)! This was an action-packed book. I was always on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. Were Ruby and the gang going to make it? Was someone going to catch them? Seriously, you can barely take a breath in this book, because the action does not stop! A few plot points were classic tropes, and I did guess correctly regarding some of the big book twists, but it didn't ruin the book for me. It was still lots of fun.

There were only three tiny things that bothered me in this book. First, the different powers that the kids have aren't described really well. I was a bit confused about what a few of the powers that aren't featured too much in book are. This can be rectified in the next book. Second, Ruby and her gang travel around the country (well a state or two) and rarely run into adults. Where are the adults? Third, it is unclear what happens to the kids' powers when they become adults. By the time Ruby's story takes place, some of the teens with powers should have become adults. I was uncertain, if they still have their powers. Liam was sometimes nominated to buy food for the group, because he looked like he was in his 20s. Does that mean 20-somethings don't have powers?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a strong first book in this trilogy. As I noted above, there are a few world building problems, but they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Also, they can easily be fixed in the second or third book. If you enjoy YA books within a post-apocalypse or dystopian environment, you will love The Darkest Minds.

I give The Darkest Minds a 4 out of 5.


Chanzie said...
December 16, 2013 at 2:45 AM

Great review Pamela :) I think this book is also on my sometime in the future TBR list. Your concerns are definitely something to consider but it seems like you enjoyed the book enough to overlook them and still give it a 4 star rating.

Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...
December 16, 2013 at 2:32 PM

OH my gosh! powerssss - I need to see if I have this book in my collection or not yet. If not I simply need to pick it up! Not worried about the kids who are dying...pshaw haha. I need to clone myself so I can read more.

Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm said...
December 16, 2013 at 6:17 PM

This book sounds really great, and it's been on my TBR list for so long now. I will definitely have to pick this up for myself now. I love the sound of Ruby as a character, strong leads are great but sometimes it's nice to have a character that acts more like how you imagine you would in those situations. Sounds like a really great read, thanks for the great review :)

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...
December 16, 2013 at 10:01 PM

I loved this book too Pamela and I am so glad you enjoyed it. Wait till you read Never Fade!

Unknown said...
December 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM

This book is a lot of fun. I know you are more urban fantasy/paranormal romance, but if you get in the mood for dystopian/post-apocalypse books you should check this one out!

Unknown said...
December 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM

This book is screaming your name! :)

Unknown said...
December 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM

This was such a fun book, I am sure that you will like it. :)

Unknown said...
December 16, 2013 at 11:52 PM

I can't wait! I am second in the queue for it at the library. I am hoping that the ebook price will drop on Christmas, so I don't have to wait 3 more weeks for it.

Unknown said...
December 17, 2013 at 2:23 PM

I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I really wasn't expecting much out of it for some reason when I first read it and was totally blown away! I still haven't read book two but I really should fix that soon! :)

Unknown said...
December 17, 2013 at 5:46 PM

I love this cast!! I would see anything with this group was in! I can't wait to read this book, I think I'll probably imagine these actors as the characters now, that makes me even more excited!!! Great picks!!!!

Unknown said...
December 17, 2013 at 9:07 PM

I wasn't expecting much either. I felt jilted by Divergent, but this book was fabulous.

Unknown said...
December 17, 2013 at 9:08 PM

I would see anything with Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence. They are just fantastic. :)

Cyn @ Bookmunchies said...
December 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM

Great review! I've been meaning to read this guy for a while and from all the reviews I've read, everyone really enjoys it! I've been kind of getting back in to dystopian books lately so now seems like a good time haha.

Unknown said...
December 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM

It is so much fun. It is action all of the way!

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