When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has 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.
The Darkest MindsFeaturedHot
The world of this novel is horrible, but all too possible. Terrifying parallels can be drawn between the rehabilitation centers and concentration camps during WWII. It seems that danger lurks around every turn and almost no one can be trusted. The world building is intense and details are slowly unraveled as we move forward in the plot.
The characters are wonderfully well written and developed so that the reader comes to love them, but also recognizes that they are flawed in a very realistic way. Their relationships are so genuine and the romantic angle is weaved into the plot so that it supports the action, rather than stealing center stage. The villains (about whom I cannot give many details without spoiling the storyline) are equally well written and aided the plot in becoming one of the more exciting and horrifying ones that I have read this year.
I do not even know what else I can say. I am still reeling from the ending and wishing I was able to spend more time with these characters. Books like The Darkest Minds, are the reason I continue to love YA and why I get excited about bringing titles like these to the attention of my students. Alexandra Bracken, the YA world awaits news of the next release with baited breath - please hurry!
Then Ruby is sent to a "rehabilitation camp," which reeks of all the ugliest parts of human history. Ruby spends her adolescence in constant fear and misery. She has a power she doesn't understand and doesn't want, one which has stolen all the most important parts of her life. She's learned to hide it, more through instinct than through knowledge, but eventually, it comes out. And Ruby escapes, but her problems are far from over. It seems everyone she encounters either wants to use her or kill her, until she chances upon a group of renegade kids who are also on the run.
The kids she encounters -- Chubs, Liam, and Zu -- are all amazing characters. They're different and well-developed, and I loved the different ways they approach their relationship with Ruby. Zu, in particular, impressed me, because Alex Bracken managed to make her this amazingly sympathetic and beautiful character, without a word of dialogue. Then there's Chubs, who's suspicious and harsh, because of his fierce loyalty to his friends. And Liam, who is trusting and gentle and wants nothing more than for his friends to be safe. My heart broke for Liam again and again, because while he was trying so hard to lead their little ragtag group, there were moments where I remembered, he's just a kid. He's not cut out for this, but he's trying his best.
Ruby herself is both strong and fragile, broken but determined. She wants to believe the best of others but the worst of herself, and sometimes makes poor decisions because of this. I like that she was a very flawed and damaged character, and that one of her main struggles wasn't external, but internal. Watching Ruby learn to -- maybe not embrace, but accept her powers was wonderful. I did have one small complaint with Ruby, and that is for a kid who went to the camps at ten and lost all contact with the outside world, she seems to know quite a bit about pop culture and classic rock. I mean, she can recognize the synthesizers and vocalist of Pink Floyd, even though she doesn't know the song? Maybe I'm out of touch with the ten-year-olds of today, but that seemed like a bit of a stretch for me. However, that's a tiny complaint. Just something that took me out of the story now and then.
As for the pacing, this book is kind of a slow burn. There's a lot of tension, but not a lot of action for long stretches of time. I personally was a big fan of this, as I thought it added to the story's atmosphere, but if you're looking for a book brimming with action and adventure and superpower battles, this isn't it. Those things are certainly present, but they're not the main drive or focus of the story. But I was never bored. The dialogue is fabulous, and as I said before, the characters are wonderful.
I don't want to say much more about it, because there are some fabulous plot developments that, while I saw some of them coming, were just so perfect for the story and Ruby's growth as a character. And the ending is heartbreaking, but perfect, and left me itching for the sequel.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent book with strong characters, a fascinating and terrifying world, and a tense plot that kept me rapidly turning pages until the end. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.
I lose my mind for anything that includes a training montage or teenagers discovering their special powers. It’s the reason I have seen The Craft, The Karate Kid, and the X-Men movies a ridiculous number of times. It’s also the reason I was in heaven reading The Darkest Minds.
A virus has wiped out almost an entire generation of kids, but those who survived have exceptional abilities which frighten the adults around them. Herded into “rehabilitation camps”, they are labeled by color. Reds are able to create fire, Oranges can control minds, Yellows can manipulate electricity, Greens are brilliant, and Blues are telekinetic. Before you join me in spending hours debating which ability you’d prefer, know that life is not rosy for the kids. If they manage to escape the camps, like our heroine Ruby, they may spend the rest of their lives being hunted by a variety of different agencies, all for nefarious purposes.
This is a premise I love, but even better are the characters. Ruby is well-developed and likable. She is haunted by so much–her powers, her past, and her fears for the future. Author Alexandra Bracken realistically describes the way she pushes through everything that scares her and becomes a brave protector of her friends. And what friends she has! It would be unfair to reduce them to Liam, the leader, Chubs, the brain, and Zu, the silent child. They are characters that the readers want to prevail, even when it seems like the entire world is against them.
The Darkest Minds is the first in a series, but the novel ends in a way that it could be a standalone title, albeit a sad one. The film rights have already been purchased, and I will be the first in line for the movie or the sequel, whichever comes first.
The Darkest Minds is intense from the start. I was sucked into the story starting on page one, entranced by the story and I barely stopped reading until I turned the last page. It was dark, thrilling, and a bit scary at parts. I never knew exactly who I could trust and I loved trying to call the shots, even though I was wrong most of the time.
Alexandra Bracken has written a story that is so intricately woven and so beautifully written. It takes an exceptional book for me to want to put down a book to flag a quote, and there was something on every page that had me marveling at the lyrical nature of her prose.
I love Alexandra Bracken's characters. They are all so dynamic and diverse. Even in this hard time for the characters, there is such a focus on great friendships. I loved Ruby - she was such a fabulous main character. She had unwavering strength and a good hearted nature. Liam, oh Liam. I cannot wait to see more of him in the sequel, as he was another character who was just so good and what a hottie too!
The plot builds until the very last moment. The ending was brutal, but even though I didn't see it coming, it was such a Ruby move, so I could accept it. I cannot even imagine where Alexandra Bracken will take readers next, but wherever that is, sign me up.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was one of those few books I could find no criticism for. It was just stunning and was everything I was looking for in another Alexandra Bracken read. The wait since Brightly Woven has been a long one indeed, but The Darkest Minds is the book that made that wait worth it. Another masterpiece from Alexandra Bracken and a book I will be sure to reread over and over again.
The government is collecting the children/adolescents who survive into camps, where they sort them into a color by ability. Although Ruby is an Orange, she sees how they are treated and convinces her tester to sort her into Green, which is a class treated better. Greens are intellectuals and have abilities related to their intelligence, while Oranges can change thoughts/feelings and alter other people's minds. Other classes have different abilities. Ruby is interned at Thurmond, which is one of the most well-known and harshest camps in the US. Life is harsh there, and so when Ruby has a way out (is practically forced into it), she takes it.
However, the world has changed in the time Ruby has been at Thurmond, and she must learn quickly to sort friend from foe if she wants to survive. Fast-paced and with some really great characters, this was overall a pretty good YA dystopian, and I am definitely curious to see how this will continue in future books!
Anyway, what can I say about this book?.... I absolutely loved it! It was funny, twisted, and screwed with my emotions so much. I love the world Braken set up. The government is full of flaws but at the same time all the other options are not flawless either, as is the case with the Children's League and Slip Kid. Also the world building was incredible. She made this brain disease and backed it up with such attention to detail and facts I actually believed it was a legit thing for a moment. And the relationship Ruby and Liam developed was great. She is drawn to him, yet knows she shouldn't be a good thing. When they finally do admit their feelings and kissed, I was so happy. On the same token, when Ruby takes away Liam's memories, I was screaming and ready to kill Ruby myself. But she did what was best. Now, the friendship Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu had was so great. They were so in tune with one another and really went to great lengths to protect each other. Even Chubs, whose commentary was just so great, opened up to Ruby eventually warmed up to her.
Now to the specifics:
I loved how the book started. Right off the bat I could tell there was going to be no sugar coating in this book. Half of her class is dead which just astounded me because what author kills off elementary kids in the beginning of the book? It was perfect though because it starts the world building for this book.
Now the government in this book... I hate them with every inch of my being. I understand that they are trying to contain a problem, but they went about it the wrong way and tried to capitalize off it which unfortunately, I feel like is something our government could do if the circumstances were right. It made me so sad and angry that the government believed it could do whatever it wanted to these scared children. For instance, they cut the wires on that one girl's braces but left the bracket on... for pete's sake they are braces; she isn't going to kill someone with them. And President Gray... don't get me started on him. I'm surprised the American people allowed him to remain in power.
The Children's League... I admire what they tried to do, but they went about it the wrong way. And Martin... okay that guy was so creepy and messed up. I know why the government was afraid because of children like him, but I'm willing to bet he became screwed up because of his time at Thurmond.
The whole Ruby and Liam thing... oh my god I wish I had a love like that. The way he treats her and calls her darlin... he had my hear swooning. Speaking of Liam, he was such a good guy. He had great intentions and looked at the picture which is a characteristic I really admired in him.
Okay now on to Zu and Chubs. I love how protective Chubs was of Zu. He was like a brother to her, even if he had a funny way of showing it. I was so sad when Zu left. I understand that she found her real family and wanted to be with them, but I though the friendship she formed with the others would be stronger. Chubs, god Chubs was just so entertaining and his comments were golden.
Now to Clancy... I had a bad feeling about him from the beginning. I really wanted Clancy to be a good guy, but I just knew that he was too screwed up in the head to be a good guy.
Overall this book was an A+ for me and I can't wait to continue on with this series.
There are parts of the story where the plot gets kind of messy and slows down but it builds up again and leaves you with a breathtaking ending.
The only serious problem I remember having is an action scene. It was a car chase around the middle of the book. I couldn't follow it or picture it properly at all.
I highly recommend this one to anyone who likes dystopia, scifi and needs good characters to love a book.
MAJOR SELLING POINTS:
Since the release of THE DARKEST MINDS, I have heard a little bit about it here and there but never too much. Until about two months ago. With the impending release of NEVER FADE, I saw it everywhere and decided it was about time I got to the review copy I got accepted for (sorry it took me so long...) Also, the awesomeness of the new AUS covers may or may not have had something to do with it.
Psychic powers are high on my interest lists and THE DARKEST MINDS has an interesting take on the way they develop and the types of powers that exist. Some are incredibly dangerous and powerful and I wish we had the opportunity to delve into more of the how these powers work, what they can do, and why it's possible.
Overall I found THE DARKEST MINDS to be pretty fast paced. Things take a while to get cracking as we're given background as to how our main character found her way to the camp and why. After that history however, things get moving. A lot of the novel is spent with the characters on the rode, running from people and searching for East River. It made for some hairy, edge of your seat moments where you didn't know if characters were going to survive, as well as some lovely relationship building scenes. AND THE ENDING. SO PAINFUL TO READ. But such a brave decision to make.
From what I remember, Alexandra Bracken's writing style was very enjoyable. The descriptions and explanations were easy to follow and understand, the dialogue was good, and the characters fantastic.
Since the night she discovered her powers, Ruby's life really has been terrible. From the first consequences to its use until now, nothing good has ever really come out of its use. It's made her scared to touch any other human and unwilling to get close to anyone. Ruby is very kind and considerate, always doing things for others, which does mean she has to make some terribly hard and brave decisions that made me cry.
Like Ruby, Liam is quite selfless. The scale of the things he'll do to save other people is crazy (and self destructive almost. Please stop trying to be so much of a hero I don't want you to die). He's incredibly loyal and will do anything for his friends or those he thinks needs his help. But he's not unreasonable. Liam is also an A+ leader and funny and just plain gorgeous.
THIS ROMANCE WAS ALMOST FLAWLESS. It developed nice and slowly, never got in the way of the plot, had two characters with SO MUCH SEXUAL TENSION DHSJKHSHF, characters whose relationship wasn't the only good thing in their life, HAPPY SQUEE WORTHY MOMENTS, FEELS INDUCING MOMENTS OMG and yeah. If you can't gather from the bombardment of caps, I really really really really loved the romance in this as much pain as it caused me.
-Ruby x Liam
-Ruby x the Slip Kid
-Chubs x Books
From the moment I read the first page in this book, I just knew, you know?
Do you know the feeling you get when you start reading a book and you can tell right off the bat this is going to be one of you absolute favorites?
The story starts with Ruby telling us about the disease. Iatrogeneic Acute Adolescent Neurodegeneration (IAAN) for short. It’s killing all the children of America. Kids as young as 9 or 10 are just dropping dead. Out of nowhere. Hundreds of thousands of them.
But the problem isn’t with the children who die. The real threat are the children who survived the disease and developed supernatural mental abilities so terrifying that the government decided to round them up and transport them in droves to forced labor camps. The ones that proved rehabilitable, that is.
But Ruby hasn’t told anyone what she can really do and that’s the only thing that’s kept her safe so far, but it’s also causing her to live in constant dread of being discovered. Of being labeled dangerous and shot like an animal. Or worse.
The story follows Ruby’s life in camp, the endless monotony of scheduled meals, scheduled sleeping and waking times, constant work and the ever present danger of the PSF officers who could kill you for the slightest infraction.
When Ruby is broken out of camp one day, she thinks a miracle has happened. That she was finally free. Little does she know that everyone has an agenda and the world outside has ceased to become what she once knew.
The Plot: is an absolute monster. You won’t see 90% of it coming.
The Ending: Heartbreaking. I won’t say anymore but just so you know. Brace yourself for the ending because it’ll hurt.
Character Development: Ruby starts out as a timid, gullible little child and over the course of the story and the horrible things that end up happening to her and her friend she becomes a stronger more self-sufficient person. However, with that she becomes harder. She’s forced to make difficult sacrifices to save the people she loves and it rips her up on the inside. It changes her in a profound and not all together better way.
The most fascinating part of the book for me was the disease itself and the kids who survived it and went on to become Psi.
They were classified according to their “powers” or “abilities” into colors.
The Greens: were intuitive and had the ability to know things without being told.
The Blues: were telekentic.
The Yellows: could manipulate electricity
The Oranges: Had the ability to control other peoples’ minds; bend them to their will.
The Reds: could manipulate and start fires, make objects burst into flame.
Society’s reaction was to call them freaks and look them up into concentration camps..especially the Oranges.
Obviously, I don’t condone it and I’m not saying it’s right. It’s a heinous and twisted thing to do to a bunch of helpless, scared, confused children. But I DO understand the urge.
Especially with the oranges; think about it: How can you trust a person who can manipulate your mind? Who can make you do whatever he/she wants you to do?
How do you know anything you’re doing is of your own volition? How do you know anything at all when it comes to this person?
One simple touch and you could be clucking like a chicken or shooting yourself in the head. Can you understand the fear that garners? Of course people would want to protect the security of the inside of their brains. Of course people would panic and become violent. Even towards children.
Will I read The sequel: ”Never fade”?: I will neither eat nor sleep (peacefully) until I get my hands on that book.
Unlike other Dystopians "cough" Gone *Cough!!!* this book does not glorify that children are great and adults are evil, and even though it shows that, it doesn't say it..not really. I really loved this book. Ruby was such a well rounded character, but she didn't know/understand somethings which happened to her which I can get because she only has a fourth grade education.. There was one part of the book that I didn't like, when you read it you will see..actually two parts. the part near the end and the ending. the ending made me want to rip Alexandra Bracken amazingly intelligent head off! She is lucky there is another book coming out, or I would have died. Ruby's been through a lot despite her sixteen years of age, and she isn't whiny or hopelessly in love like most characters now a days. There was no insta-love either which was amazing because too many books have that and it pisses me off. You will cry and scream and swoon so be prepared!
The Darkest Minds begins with a little bit of background on the main character of Ruby. Ruby is one of the survivors in a world where all the children have disappeared. Taken to camps and tortured. But some look to escape. This book comes out on Tuesday so I don’t want to spoil anything about it. I highly recommend it if you enjoyed The Hunger Games or the X-Men Movies. It has a read X-Menish feel to the book. Don’t start this book until you have the time to dedicate to it.
Alexandra Braken writes with a unique style. She takes the time to develop her characters. While this may seem to make the novel move slowly at first, it is needed because you need to develop an attachment for Ruby. The second half of the book moves at the speed of light. I highly recommend this book to teens and for teen collections.
There is no crazy love triangle (*cough Hunger Games *cough) to pull at your head and cloud your judgement. There is no lover's quarrel (Tris and Four) to confuse the emotions. There is simply Ruby and Liam.
I do believe that Liam is one of my new favorite protagonists. He is loyal, determined, and 100% honest. He loves Ruby regardless of her powers. They are the new Romeo and Juliet. I am SO glad to see this will be a series because I need more Liam pronto. as much gushing as I do for Liam, I should note that the other characters aren't half bad either. Ruby is pretty cool in that I-really-can't-do-anything-right kind of way. She grows on you. She also gets better with her powers, which makes for a pretty interesting conclusion in this book. But one of my other favorites in this story is Chubs. The legally blind book nerd. How can you not love a character that makes references to Watership Down and Lord of the Flies? He's witty and full of all sorts of dry humor. He makes such a great addition to this motley crew of X-men quality superkids.
For the fans of drama, there is plenty between these pages. Each chapter layers the complicated plot a little more. The action begins almost instantly with a pretty shocking and gruesome scene, and it doesn't stop. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing (even if some were pretty obvious). Best of all, there is a cliffhanger ending that actually works, even if it leaves you feeling that your heart has suddenly jumped into your throat. Side note: I strongly dislike cliffhangers that leave you asking a million questions about the entire plot or saying WTH to yourself. The Darkest Minds doesn't do that. The ending truly works, even if it's not a fairy tale inspired outcome (this is a dystopian afterall).
I encouraged everyone to read this one. It is wonderful. Refreshing even. Like all trends, things start to feel stale after a while. I mean, there are only so many ways you can write the end of the world/civilization without repeating someone's ideas, right? That seems to be the case with the majority of the newer novels hitting the market. They feel familiar. Too familiar. But, alas, The Darkest Minds did not conjure up any old memories or comparisons as I read, which was delightful. So, if you've read this one, I would love to discuss it! I think there could be some great conversations to spring from this gem.