The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What this book is about:
Ruby is a 10 year old living with her parents in Virginia and going to school every day like all the other kids do. When suddenly a deadly disease called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) hits the world, all the children that don’t die from it, end up with special abilities. The government decided to build camps and take each and every child that exhibits these abilities, in order to protect the rest of the world from their catastrophic powers. When Ruby is taken to one of these camps, she is scared of everyone around her but most of all, herself. And that’s because Ruby is one of the most dangerous ones
I thought I had outgrown the YA dystopians that are out there after reading the Divergent trilogy, but I have to admit that this book was fun! Let’s start with an overall description of what to expect in this story. In The Darkest Minds we follow Ruby in a dystopian Virginia in which all children are either dead or imprisoned at “rehabilitation camps”. We have a classic YA dystopian setting with the bad guys being the government and some smaller organisations that are against the government but still their motives are questionable. Along with Ruby we have Liam, Chubs and Zu (Suzume) who are the “good guys” and the major characters in the novel that are also friends of Ruby’s.
The most important thing you ever did was learn how to survive. Do not let anyone make you feel like you shouldn’t have.
I don’t know why my brain works like that but I have to compare and contrast this book to the Divergent series. Anyway, Ruby was much more likeable to me that Tris was. Still don’t expect an amazing, never-before-seen female protagonist. This is your typical girl who has a very powerful…power (see Harry Potter, Tris, blah blah, she is special okay?) and she is one of the good ones. She never wants to do anything bad with her powers and goes through a journey to find her inner strength. We’ve seen all this before. Liam, Chubs and Zu were also a pleasant addition to the story and helped with the progression of the plot but they are also the typical co-protagonists that you expect to have. The love interest, the guy who pisses everyone of being a know-it-all but everybody still loves him, and the little girl that is badass but everybody sees as their little sister that needs to be protected.
Let’s carpe the hell out of this diem.
The story plot itself is also not something new. I mean..it’s a dystopian. Government is bad (well, every government is bad but in dystopians it’s just over-the-top-bad) and teenagers are supposed to change the world. Still, it was kind of fun! The adventure.. the road trip kind-of-feel.. the way it resembled a zombie apocalypse (at least in my head)..I had a good time reading this book. I was actually flying through it and waiting to see what would happen next, even though most of my theories ended up being correct so..another predictable story with predictable characters.
Ruby, give me one reason why we can’t be together, and I’ll give you a hundred why we can. We can go anywhere you want. I’m not your parents. I’m not going to abandon you or send you away, not ever.
Also, there was a part of this story that reminded me of The Knife of Never Letting Go (if you’ve read the Chaos Walking Trilogy I think you know which part I mean). The ended was quite satisfactory, fast-paced and made me keep reading with interest. If you get the feeling that this book is dragging on, it definitely picks up the pace during the last 100 pages or so. Personally, I didn’t think it was too slow but maybe because I enjoyed the “slow parts” as much as the fast ones. One big part that was lacking in information and content in my opinion was the world. I felt that the world-building was not there and since we are in a dystopian society I would have liked to learn more about how people actually live and what does the environment look like.
“Life isn’t fair.” I said. “It’s taken me a while to get that. It’s always going to disappoint you in some way or another. You’ll make plans, and it’ll push you in another direction. You will love people, and they’ll be taken away no matter how hard you fight to keep them. You’ll try for something and won’t get it. You don’t have to find meaning in it; you don’t have to try to change things. You just have to accept the things that are out of your hands and try to take care of yourself. That’s your job.”
Overall, this was a pleasant surprise. A fun, quick read despite its 500 pages of length with funny, likeable characters and an interesting plot. If you’re a fan of YA fiction or dystopian books, I believe you’re going to have a great time reading this one. It might feel like it’s a bit slow in the middle though, but in my opinion the ending was quite fast-paced and overall satisfying.
Have you read The Darkest Minds and if so what did you think? I recently bought Never Fade, the second book in the trilogy, and I hope that it won’t disappoint me!
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