Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Review: Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Through the Dark
Series: The Darkest Minds #1.5, 2.5, and 3.5
Written by: Alexandra Bracken
Published: October 6, 2015 by Disney Hyperion

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Don't miss this breathtaking collection of stories set in the world of the best-selling Darkest Minds trilogy, now in paperback: 


A desperate young man is forced to make a terrible choice between his own survival and the future of a little girl who won't speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine. 


 A spark of light brightens a brutal world when a girl named Sam encounters her childhood best friend at the government-run "rehabilitation" camp, Thurmond. Lucas and Sam form a risky escape plan, but sometimes even love isn't powerful enough to overcome unspeakable cruelty. 


The camps are closed. A tyrant president has been deposed. But for many Psi kids living rough, there is no home to return to, no place for them in a country devastated by the past and anxious about the future. Every day is a struggle for Sam, who knew all the rules at Thurmond and has been thrown into a terrifying and uncertain new life. But there's more at stake than Sam's own survival. She once made a promise to someone she loves, and the time has come to fulfill it. 

 From New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a collection of three hauntingly beautiful novellas set in the world of the Darkest Minds series. In the most harrowing of times, it takes a ferocious strength not only to survive, but to stand up for those who cannot fight their own battles. The characters in these stories-some new, some familiar-face impossible missions, and the hardest of all may be protecting the last flicker of hope in a seemingly endless night.

I love The Darkest Minds series, not only is it one of my favorite series but is among my all-time favorite dystopias. But as much as I love the series I have not read any of the novellas and therefore I hadn't read this book yet. So with The Darkest Legacy coming out I thought it would be the perfect time to read this one. And I was not at all disappointed. It was a great way to get back into the world and learn a little more about the the larger world of the series.

Surprisingly, I would say that In Time was probably my least favorite of the three novellas here. I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved seeing Zu and learning about what she was up to between The Darkest Minds and In the Afterlight. It was good to have a refresher on Zu as well before The Darkest Legacy. She was one of my favorite secondary characters in the original series so anything involving Zu I thought I would be interested in. But this wasn't about Zu, it was about Gabe and I didn't really enjoy Gabe. He had decent character development but I just didn't connect with him and that kind of prevented me from loving this story.

In contrast, Sparks Rise is told from the perspective of a secondary character in the original series. Sparks Rise is about Sam. I feel like Sam is one of those characters who we needed more from. She is only in the first part of The Darkest Minds and the last part of In the Afterlight. I liked Sam but there was so much more to learn about her. In this story we get her backstory and more from her at Thurmond. I loved seeing Sam and how kind and caring she is to those who need her help. Her and Lucas had a nice relationship, although I don't necessarily ship it but I liked seeing them interact and the ending definitely broke my heart a little bit. This is also maybe the story that adds the most to the series. We learn more about the camps and more about the Reds. I enjoyed it and it was probably the story I finished the fastest. My only issue is that I feel like the escape plan could have gotten a little more attention. It's in the synopsis but it was only like 10% of the novella.

If Sparks Rise adds the most to the original series, then Beyond the Night adds the most to the future of the series. In that novella we get to see what the world is like of now that the camps are closed and IAAN has come to it's relative conclusion. It was really interesting to get a peak into what the world is like for these teens now that the resolution from the original series has been resolved. It's not all puppies and rainbows. There is still a lot of really tough things the characters are dealing with. It's something we don't get to experience a lot from our favorite series and I am glad I get to do it with this one. I also really liked getting to continue with Sam and to meet Mia. Mia was really interesting and likable. She's like a fun combination of Vida and Liam. Speaking of those two, I have good news, your favorite characters from the original series are featured in this story as well and it was a real treat to see them again and to add to the gang.

On the whole I think this a good collection of short stories. I think I read it at the right time because it prepared me well for The Darkest Legacy. There isn't really much of a through line with this collection without it really. Sparks Rise and Beyond the Dark do have a lot of connection and those two books probably could have been turned into their own book but In Time really doesn't have much connection to the other two stories. Obviously they all involve The Darkest Minds but it's not a very cohesive collection.

I give Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of The Darkest Minds then you should definitely buy and read this collection of stories. I think that now is the perfect time to read it as well. It's a great refresher before The Darkest Legacy.

Have you read Through the Dark? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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