November 27, 2012

Review of The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


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 Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date:  December 18, 2012
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

I couldn’t find a trailer, so here’s a song!
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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

So from the moment I laid my hands down on a copy of the Darkest Minds, the first thing I could think about (before starting the novel) was all the raised hype. Everybody has been losing their shorts over the novel, dying to get ARC’s of the novel so that they can get a firsthand glimpse of the plot written on nearly five hundred pages. As a reader who has been in dire need of an addictive read, I had the highest of expectations (and if you are familiar with my past reviews, you understand that my expectations reach to infinity and beyond).

The novel sounded like X-men, so let me just get that out of my system. As a fan of the graphic novels (or comics) for both Marvel and DC, I love it when I get to read novels that have the same type of themes. The mutants in X-men are trapped and unwanted by common society, usually condemned to camps or death and (surprise, surprise) the “mutants” or “psi” in the Darkest Minds undergo the same treatment. So already right there, I wanted to give the author a pat on the back considering that from the opening prologue to the novel and the first two chapters, I was already dying with how much I adored the plot.

Let me just say that the Darkest Minds is the story of Ruby, a sixteen year old psi who has been living in a reformative camp for the past six years. An unknown virus killed off most of America’s children and those who survived were left with uncanny abilities (if you get the reference with uncanny you get a cookie).  At the age of ten she used her “powers” and was sent away, picked up to live at the Thurmond camp. After six years of living there virtually as a slave, Ruby manages to escape with the League, a group that sounds better than it actually is. Considering that the League plans on using the Psi as their own soldiers, Ruby escapes once more and finds herself on the run, and road, with Liam, Chubs and Zu.

As Ruby tries to hide who she really is from the group, Liam grows increasingly closer to her despite the constant chidings and warnings from Chubs who does not trust the stranger at all. But as time goes on, and breathtaking events ensue, Ruby finds that while she may not be with her biological family any longer she has gained a new one with the group. Plus, there’s romance. Who doesn’t love romance?

The Darkest Minds does take place in a dystopic future, where pretty much every country has cut themselves off from the rest of the world for their own safety. And from the sounds of it, the USA does seem to be the only place that experienced the psi problem and the outbreak that killed their children (in which case, if this novel does predict the future, I am safe since I’m in Canada. Sweet).  I love dystopia and while there has been a lot of dystopic novels as of late, I am glad that the Darkest Minds doesn’t overkill or become clichéd. The highly detailed settings do give the an original and ominous tone, which is appropriate.

However, I did feel from the description on the back, that I was entitled to a lot of romance throughout the novel. I found that it took eons for the romance portion of the novel to finally break out. When it came to Liam and Ruby, I expected the two characters to be flirting or for Liam to save her sorry butt and for her to admit that he is Superman and give him her heart. You know, that Lois Lane type stuff that all girls secretly want. Really, when it came to Liam and Ruby, I started to think of my crushes in like grade six and seven where things were just awkward. The interactions between the two characters either seemed awkward or just out of place, hardly having the maturity that is usually found in the forming of relationships in most YA novels.

In the Darkest Minds universe, the psi are put into a caste where their colors represent their abilities. Their abilities however, aren’t as exciting as those in an X-men type universe. There isn’t a plethora of unknown abilities, ones that are seldom obtained by others, people are ranged from say green which is Professor-X-mental-powers to red which is Dark-Phoenix-you-gonna-die powers (i.e. off the charts).  But I did enjoy how Ruby’s powers seemed the most unique considering that those with her color are rarely seen at all in the novel.

As the story progresses the characters do find themselves in another safe haven, though it is made blatantly obvious that their safe haven isn’t as save as they believe it do be. Did I find that cool? Why yes I did. Did I hate the haven’s dictator? Oh yeah, he’s a creeper.  The one thing I should mention is that for readers who tend to skim, be ready to know that in the Darkest Minds if you skim or skip over parts by accident instantly things become confusing. Proceed with caution.

I bet you’re wondering if my expectations that were mentioned at the start of this review were met. I can answer honestly by saying: Mostly. I did expect more psi vs. psi action and for a more epic romance, but at the end of the day the Darkest Minds was pretty damned awesome. And you can’t get any better than that.

About the Author:

Alexandra Bracken wrote Brightly Woven as a birthday present for a friend, and the story grew and flourished during a year of unpredictable, wild weather. A native of Arizona, she is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she majored in History and English. She now lives in New York City.

 Connect with the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Available for pre-order:
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  1. Ruby Replogle

    Been SO looking forward to reading this book! Glad to know its as awesome as it sounds :)

  2. Ashley

    I love your review! I literally just finished this book yesterday. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me.. I got a little bored in the middle and I may have ended up skimming a bit, so I just want to know if I missed something. Were the powers ever *explicitly* explained? Like, what exactly green is, what exactly yellow is, etc. I managed to make guesstimates (orange = mind control, blue = telekinesis, etc.), but I was wondering if it was ever written out really clearly what they were.. rather than the vague references I picked up on.

    Anyway! I agree with a lot of the points you made. The story itself is pretty freaking awesome. I would have liked a little more explanations (like where did the disease come from??), but overall it was super cool. The romance did kind of awkwardly pop up out of nowhere though. But I really liked Liam so if it was introduced more seamlessly and more slowly, I think it could have been great.

    And the ending was awesome!

  3. Chapter by Chapter

    I got a bit bored as well, but it’s never blatantly put out what each color means. I think that the author meant for it to be something you figure out for yourself, rather than it being something she can just tell you. However, I am a bit confused as to what colors like yellow and red do *exactly*.

  4. Ashley

    Okay I’m kind of glad I didn’t just space out and totally miss something LOL!

    I’m kind of a back story/details person, so I would have really liked a thorough explanation of each power. I read another blogger’s review, and here’s what she came up with:

    * Red = power over fire
    * Orange = power over minds
    * Yellow = power over electricity
    * Blue = telekinesis
    * Green = extraordinary intelligence and logical thinking

    I figured out orange, yellow, and blue.. but I honestly feel like I had totally missed what red and green were!

  5. Okay so I would be lying if I said the cover of this one didn’t kind of turn me off but I was intrigued by all the hype as well. Your review has actually put this one on my HAVE TO HAVE list!! Girl you killed it and have me looking forward to tearing into it! AMAZING review and hopefully I will get a chance to pick this up SOON!

  6. kimbacaffeinate

    Wahoo,..i am so glad I said yes to this, even though I was already over booked this month I cannot wait to read this !!

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