23/01/2014

Review: The Darkest Minds {Alexandra Bracken}




 
When Ruby woke on her tenth birthday, something about her changed. Something that made her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to a brutal government rehabilitation camp. 

She may have survived the disease that killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with abilities beyond anyone's control. And Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. 

When the truth comes out, she barely escapes with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find East River; a safe haven for kids like her. She joins a group who have escaped their own camp; Zu, Chubbs and their leader Liam.

But Ruby can't get close to them, especially to Liam. She can't risk it. Not after what she did to her parents. And there are people out there who will stop at nothing until Ruby is locked up for it. Until all of the kids are locked away.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 


The Darkest Minds jumps straight in with the action and we see Ruby in a Government-run rehabilitation camp, akin to concentration campsLocked up by the people they trusted, these kids are forced to be slaves and become shells of their former selves. They are so badly treated it leaves a heavy question about human nature, our need for control and how easily we bow to authority.

 The introduction of abilities was a great aspect. It's crazy to think of teenagers surviving a deadly disease only to be imbued with mind-blowing powers. I also enjoyed the colour-coded system which identified the different types of Psi - Blue, Green, Red, Yellow and Orange - and how some colours were seen as too dangerous.

Ruby is one of the dangerous ones, and she's an incredibly sympathetic character. Traumatised by the camps, she is suspicious and scared of everyone, even the people who help her escape. But I never saw her as paranoid because after everything she had every right to be nervous. And I was right beside her, wondering what everyone's true motives were.

Ruby is also scared of herself and what she's capable of. It's hinted she did something to her parents and when it's revealed what happened I felt like crying. It helped me understand why she was afraid, but mostly it made me want to give her a hug. 

Side note: what happened to her only friend in camp also made me want to hug Ruby, because it marked her officially losing everyone she'd ever cared about.

But then Ruby is united with a group of kids similar to her, searching for the Slip Kid of East-River, who has created a safe haven for people with abilities. I was really excited for them to find this place, but once they did I was so suspicious. That's the great thing about this book; it really makes you care about the characters. 

The group of kids she encounters were Zu, scarred by her experiences in her own camp, Chubbs, the annoying but loveable know-it-all and Liam, their leader. The bond between them is strong and genuine, filled with in-jokes and an intense all-consuming loyalty

They were a group of kids bonded by loneliness and the awful things they'd endured at the hands of people who were meant to protect them. Their friendship provides small slivers of hope scattered between the deadly illness and the pitiless camps.

I adored Chubbs and Zu, but Liam was fantastic. He wanted so badly to save everyone and when I found out about his past in the camps (and, man, the notes) I fell in love with his bravery. Liam isn't a bad boy; he's a reminder why nice guys should never finish last. And his romance with Ruby was so endearing. It was realistically developed, tentative and sincere; definitely one of the sweetest, well-developed romances I've read. 

Bracken also does a great job pacing the story. Information isn't dumped, but instead seeps in through the chapters, gradually building a vivid image of the world she has created. We are left to piece together carefully placed fragments of information and make our own discoveries.

This book is not an easy-read and shows a harsh and unforgiving world. There's plenty to scare readers, from how heartless the grown-ups are to how terrifying some of the kids became. It's also not too far-fetched to think the government would lock up these kids or that after being ripped from their families and made to believe they were worthless, they would turn ruthless and bloodthirsty.

This is a gripping book, but be prepared when you read it because just when you think things might work out, Alexandra Bracken will punch you in the face with that ending. Seriously. WHAT WAS THAT?! Those last few chapters twisted me inside and out and I rushed to buy the next book as soon as I was finished.

"Maybe nothing will ever change for us. But don't you want to be around just in case it does?"

 

 
 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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26 comments:

  1. I've heard nothing but great things about this book! And now I'm kicking myself for passing over the paperback copy in the bookstore the other day. Gah! But I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Allie! I love when characters can be fierce but still be sympathetic. It's moving up on my TBR for sure. Great Review :D

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    1. It really is great! I put off reading it for a while, but then my brother got me it for Christmas and I ended up devouring it!

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  2. I'm curious about this ending now! I bought a copy of this a while ago, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I really like the sound of the romance, and look forward to meeting both Liam and Ruby. And I'm glad to hear that the world-building felt tangible too. Lovely review, Allie! :)

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    1. Dude that ending is INTENSE. I mean, really it was just ... I may have screamed a few times because WHY?! Haha

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  4. This books sounds great and I've gone back and fourth on whether or not to pick it up. I tend more towards easy-read books, but I'm thinking of taking a chance with this series. I'm glad to hear that you loved the romance between Liam and Ruby =) Yay for well developed romances!

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    1. I genuinely think you're going to love it! It's such a fantastic book and SO underrated. I don't get why everyone's not raving about it

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  5. Sounds like there's some lovely characters here! I love the concept behind this novel and will have to read it soon. I love it when dystopia is scary because that means it's realistic!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. This is definitely a book that brings the chills and creepiness. It was such a fricken intense ride all the way through, I was having heart palpitations! haha

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  6. Hello! So glad to stumble upon more like-minded YA blogs out in the blogosphere!

    I really enjoyed The Darkest Minds, and it was quite a deep and mysterious read. I loved how Bracken kept the suspense and mystery going till the very end. It did drag a little towards the middle when the kids were just moving around and getting to know each other, but I enjoyed their relationship development. If I recall correctly...that ending!! Great review Allie!

    Joy x

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    1. Exactly! The suspense was definitely there through the entire thing and that ending just about killed me.
      I agree it had some slow parts, but the action-filled scenes more than made up for it :D

      Thanks for stopping by Joy!

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  7. I really liked this book -- it was long, but once the gang was on the run in the van together, I was hooked. I need to find time to read the second book soon!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  8. I'm glad you liked this one because it is one of my favorites as well :) THAT ENDING, I KNOW. Crazy. Can't wait to read Never Fade :)

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    1. I've read Never Fade and it's such a different vibe! I found it dragged a bit at the beginning, but once some familiar faces were introduced it found its footing. Not as good as Darkest Minds, but still a great book!

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  9. I agree the world is so scary, Ruby was amazing in this one, one of my favorite parts. Great review girl

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    1. Definitely! I wished she embraced her powers more though! The girl needed to realise how bad-ass she was!

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  10. I really liked this first book too! Unfortunately the second one disappointed me quite a bit, because my favorite thing about book 1 was the great group dynamic of Chubs and Liam and Zu and Ruby, and there's not much of that in book 2. :( But I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on that one when you read it!! :) Great review, Allie!

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    1. I've read Never Fade and I have to agree with you. Once we saw some old faces though, it picked up pace. But, yeah, it definitely dragged a bit, especially at the beginning. I think book three will be better, since all of our favourites are already together and we don't have to wait half a book for a reunion!

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  11. Intense endings, I love intense endings! can't wait to get my hands on this one hopefully I will ater I am done withmy huge to read pile.

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    1. I don't think intense covers this ending. More like emotionally crippling!

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  12. I have heard nothing but great things about this book. I loved the Romance between Liam and Ruby. Glad you enjoyed!!

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    1. It was so sweet! I wish there was more of those two in book 2; but hopefully book 3 will have some more swoony moments :D

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  13. This has been on my TBR list for a few weeks, I'm so excited to read this book now!!!

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    1. It's an amazing book! It's got such a heartbreaking beginning though (and is actually pretty heartbreaking throughout). The awful stuff these kids go through killed me!

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  14. I can't believe how good this book was! Probably one of the best I've read all year. I cried at the end (stupid onions) and I can't wait for the next book.

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    1. LOL. Those pesky onions are why I never read in the kitchen anymore ;)

      It was definitely one of the best for me too! I can't wait for book 3!!

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