Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Summary: 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.
So sometime in the future, a mysterious disease is killing a huge percent of children, the economy is going downhill fast, our country is ruled my a shady dictator, and the kids that are left alive have developed special powers. Ruby is our protagonist, the girl who on her tenth birthday, wiped herself right out of her parent’s memories and gets put in a concentration, I mean rehabilitation camp. She is there for six years, suffering and afraid, until she get’s broken out by an agent of The Children’s League, who is maybe a good guy. But probably a bad guy. So she escapes and runs into some other kids who are looking for The East River, this mythical place where kids who are “gifted” (AKA psychic as fuck) can all live together in peace and harmony and sing Kumbaya around a campfire. Because that’s clearly how this happy shiny new world works.
I really loved this book, with it’s dark, gritty atmosphere and interesting characters. It felt more realistic than most dystopian novels I’ve been reading, and it legitimately hurt my soul in some parts. Seeing how these children were treated, how everyone used and abused them, it broke my heart.
Ruby worked well as a character. Unfortunately, she was the overly empathetic, self loathing girl that seems to be in most YA books right now, but it worked better with her than most. But I felt like she was all over the place too. Sometimes she was all submissive and quiet, other times she was brave and outspoken, I think she just didn’t really know who she was. It made me so sad when she would think of how her life should have been, when she cried because she was sixteen and already missed so much in her life, when she couldn’t pick out her bra size because she had no idea how to do it. It added such depth to the whole thing, that not only is it sad these kids are being put in this camp, but it’s sad because they have missed important parts of their life that they would never get back. Ruby was broken by this, crippled by her fear and uncertainty, but still so hopefully through her whole journey.
Liam is the love interest, the leader with a heart of gold. As much as I hate to say it, he really wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t that I had a problem with him, I just didn’t absolutely love him. He was a sweetie for sure, but I just didn’t get the sense of realism I got from Ruby. While it was nice to see his humanity still alive and beating in him, his guilt torturing him, I didn’t get the whole never ending optimism thing. He was either not seeing the world for how it really was, or refusing to. And it was sad that he was in such denial, or had to be for the sake of everyone else, but I wanted to see him hating the world and angry at people.
Chubs was definitely one of my favorites. Sure, he was a raging asshole, but who could blame him? I liked his bitterness and almost brutally honest way or viewing things, even if he would be depressing and mean. Him and Zu were great characters, totally different but I liked how he was so sad to see her go, like a big cuddly, overprotective teddy bear. When Zu left, it almost broke my heart. All of her friends love her so much and she just ditched them to run out into the dangerous world. If anything happens to her, I’m going to freak.
The thing I really love is the setting and world building. It gives me shivers to read about because it’s such a realistic future. Not to say that I think the government is going to start rounding up children and putting them in labor camps and cutting open their brains, but I like this sort of X-Men vibe. Clancy is almost like a young Magneto, manipulating and using his powers to try and keep all the special kids together and build any army. He had that sort of charisma that hides the evil inside.
Speaking of Clancy, I loved the sneaky way he controlled everyone at the camps. I liked how at first, you weren’t really sure if he was manipulating Ruby, since the voice in her head that encouraged her to spend time with him could have been her voice just as much as his. It was clever and subtle. He was a tricky bastard, that’s for sure, and I’m positive we will be seeing more of him in the next book since he managed to weasel his way out of getting killed.
Now, the ending. Holy shit, I did not see that coming. I kinda of get why she did it, but at the same time, I don’t. Sure, she didn’t want Liam coming after her, but he would have helped her escape. I don’t know, it seemed a little unnecessary to me, especially since she didn’t know anything about the Children’s League. And whenever people lose memories, I always hate it because he could have lost more important things than she knew. Maybe he learned things about survival or important self realizations that she all just selfishly wiped clean. And as far as I know, she has absolutely no way of undoing this.
All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, it was darker and grittier that I thought which was great. There were several strong, defined characters that all had important parts to play and hopefully, everyone regroups in the next book. But, I did feel that it went a little slow at some parts and Ruby’s personality bouncing all over the place bothered me sometimes. Still a great book and I already started the second one.