I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Darkest Minds by Alexander Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 18th December 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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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.
Sometimes reading dystopian YA can feel like diving into water with too strong a current. One minute you have a sense of what’s going on and the next you’re submerged headfirst in an authors attempt to make you understand all the shiny new rules of their universe, while simultaneously introducing you to characters at a pace too fast for you to even to begin to care.
The Darkest Minds avoids this problem entirely, with expert world-building and introductions. The dystopian world was fresh with new and interesting concepts, powers and diseases, societies, armies and leaders, vocabulary and technology and a rich history. There was so much going on that it treaded dangerously on the cusp of becoming overwhelming, but Bracken still managed to avoid this by dispensing information only when necessary, and keeping it well paced by surrounding it with delicious action. While I still dove into this book as I would a poorly written one, I found myself in clear water, wanting to swim deeper.
The strongest relationships in this novel lie in the group dynamic between Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu. Each of Ruby’s friends was so fleshed out that they became lifelike.
The writing of Ruby’s voice felt both natural and strong. While I normally become frustrated when the main character goes off on a tangent inside their own head about the slightly obvious, even when Ruby became introspective for a long time, the prose still held my interest.
The dark layers of guilt and rejection that the characters felt towards their society was only strengthened every time the theme was revisited, rather than becoming repetitive and frustrating. Ruby’s reflections provided a grounding to the novel that made the events all the more powerful. Not only was her disillusionment towards her future and her world jarring, there were several scenes in the book that were so shockingly well-narrated they hit me like a punch to the gut, and it took me a minute to recuperate and read on.
The Darkest Minds introduces a dystopian world that you will want take the time to immerse yourself in. I’m going to warn you in advance that it can be quite the emotional roller coaster, but trust me, it’s well worth the ride.