Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Series: The Darkest Minds Book #1
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Published: December 2012 by Disney-Hyperion
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Synopsis: 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.

When I decided to do dystopia for April the first series I knew I wanted to read was The Darkest Minds. I had heard about this book when it first came out and it sounded fantastic. I have read a lot of really good reviews so there was definitely some hype surrounding this book. It did not however disappoint, if anything it exceeded my expectations.

My favorite thing about this book was the characters. Alexandra Bracken created so many interesting and diverse characters that you couldn't help but identify with. First and foremost we have Ruby who is a fantastic reluctant hero (doing a post about why I love reluctant heroes on Wednesday). At the beginning of the book she was terrified about using her powers and being a hero but by the end she had this great character arc where she becomes incredibly badass. She had a very Rogue in X-Men kind of vibe. She had these powers she couldn't control and they kept scaring her and making her do things she regretted. I felt for her from the very beginning and wanted her to succeed and get what she wanted. Then there are the people she meets along the way like Liam, Zu, and Chubs. Liam is the love interest in this books and boy do I ship this ship. He's caring, supportive, smart, and an amazing leader. I also loved Zu, she is younger than the others and mute. I just wanted to hug her and take care of her, she was just the sweetest. Finally there was Chubs, who is my favorite character. He is Liam's best friend and incredibly smart but also sarcastic and snarky. He was like the voice of reason and more than once he said what I was thinking. And these are just the main characters.

Another thing I really liked about this book was the fact that there wasn't really one clear villain, it's an us against the world kind of story. Throughout most of the book I had a hard time trusting practically everyone because they all seem to have dubious moral codes and ulterior motives. Ruby is learning throughout the book about the gray that exists in the world, and realizing who she can and can't trust for help and with privileged information. She sometimes has to learn this the hard by realizing that someone she trusted and thought was good is actually more of a villain than the person she originally thought was evil. She also learns that sometimes you have to rely on these dubious people and organizations, when you are in a tight spot they may be the only ones who can help you.

As far as the plot and pacing goes this book was action-packed from start to finish. There were all
kinds of daring escapes, car chases, and fleeing for your life kind of moments. Add this to the fact that you have teenagers with telepathic powers and you have the perfect recipe for an action film (again very X-Men). This is definitely the kind of book that I can see made into a phenomenal movie. Every time someone used their powers it was incredible. Zu had amazing powers to control electricity as a yellow, Liam and Chubs with their telekinetic Blue powers, and of course Ruby who can invade people's minds as an Orange. But besides the action the plot of this book was incredibly emotional. Everything built to an epic conclusion that was heart-wrenchingly sad. And when the tears started flowing they couldn't stop. It was one sad moment after another and just when I thought it couldn't get much worse, it did, and I broke out into the kind of ugly crying that Clair Danes would be proud of. I had built such an emotional connection with these characters and to see them go into any kind of turmoil really affected me. The feels in this book were out of control.

My only real criticism was that the world-building was a little confusing at times. It was an amazing and incredibly interesting world but I found myself less intrigued and more confused when it came to the dystopia in this book. It's the catch-22 of tell not show style of world-building where I wanted to know more information. I didn't really understand a lot about the color system, which colors could do what , and how Ruby got to be in the camps until much later in the book than I thought. It made the beginning very confusing and took me out of the story a little bit at times trying to hard to figure out the specifics of this world rather than what was happening in it.

 But on the whole it was a fantastic book with great characters, lots of action and emotion, and an interesting and compelling dystopian world. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of dystopia particularly series like The Hunger Games and Divergent. I would also recommend this to anyone who likes books with strong female characters, lots of action, and moral dubious worlds and characters.

I give The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken 9 out of 10
Have you read The Darkest Minds? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and stay tuned for my review of Never Fade coming later in the week.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you liked this so much. I am contemplating getting the whole series when the last book comes out. It is good that the book is so jam packed from start to finish. So many books nowadays have some amazing scenes in them but then they slope off towards the middle or the end!

    Thanks for sharing! and enjoy your week! :)

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

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