REVIEW: “The Darkest Minds,” Alexandra Bracken
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Title: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Published: December, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Pages: 488
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

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.

Final Thoughts:
Coming highly recommended by one of my friends who can be quite critical with her reviews, I went and picked this one up from my library straight away. However, it didn’t click with me. It was by no means a bad book. I liked the characters, found them realistic given their circumstances, but I couldn’t connect with them. I just didn’t care about the outcome. Not even halfway through on the night before it was due back at the library, I went to renew my loan but found it had been reserved, therefore leaving me with two options—give up, or power through like a madman. I powered through. I’m not sure if the deadline soured my views or not, but I knew while reading it that I just wanted it to be over.

Being a paranormal dystopian should have made it an instant favourite of mine, but somehow it didn’t work for me. Everything was done in bits and pieces, taking a backseat to the roadtrip story that holds the bulk of the page count. I mean, the abilities these kids had weren’t really delved upon much aside from the fact that they had them and adults everywhere were scared of them—cue the evil government roundup of all the children and sudden societal collapse. The concept sounds cool, and the world-building does paint vivid picture of the harsh state they live in, but I couldn’t help the so-so feeling I had as I leapt through each chapter.

Pacing wise, it feels like we’re in the moment, a bunch of kids driving across the country, trying to find answers, find home, find safety. But in terms of progressing the plot, it didn’t feel like anything major really came about until the final hundred pages. Before that, it felt like we were just driving around, getting to know the characters, like they could have been anywhere, doing anything, and it wouldn’t have really mattered. I liked the character building, but could have done without a big chunk in the middle of the book. The start is interesting and the end was interesting, but middle could have been a hundred pages shorter.

In terms on romance, I was unimpressed. We do see a push towards something at the end, but it didn’t get enough of a focus earlier on to make me believe in it. And the attempts at a love triangle…that was just weird. I wasn’t on board with the first guy, and then bam, meet guy number two. Maybe that was done to get us to like the idea of the first guy with her more. I did get that feeling. But relationships need more than jealousy as a foundation.

I’m unsure about continuing the series. Knowing my friend didn’t find the second one as enjoyable, the likelihood that I’ll like it isn’t very high. It’d need to get back to the political issues, back to the meat of what made the concept interesting. Whether or not she solves the problems in her love life are of little importance to me.

Recommended to:
Those that enjoy fugitive roadtrip adventures. Kind of like The Walking Dead but not as tense.