Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Published in 2012 by Disney Hyperion
488 Pages (Hardcover)

The Rundown

The Darkest Minds is the first book in the YA dystopian series of the same name by Alexandra Bracken. After the initial exposition, I found it to be an extremely engrossing read and I definitely recommend it to dystopian fans looking for their next fix. I rate it a 4/5 stars.

So What’s it About?

In the world of The Darkest Minds, kids who survive the illness that strikes them in pre-adolescence are left with some sort of psychic power, classified by color. These psi kids are rounded up and placed into camps, to control, and nominally, to “rehabilitate” them.

Camp Thurmond in West Virginia is where we find our narrator, Ruby, a dangerous Orange with the power to control other people’s minds. Ruby’s hid her power, managing to stay with less dangerous Greens, and she soon escapes the camp with help from the outside, eventually meeting up with some escapees from another camp. Together they seek out East River, where a boy called The Slip Kid can help them find their families and maybe teach Ruby to control her terrifying powers.

My Thoughts

Ruby undergoes a significant yet believable transformation from always in the background self-preservationist to confident and self sacrificing heroine.She’s strong, and fairly likeable without being nauseatingly perfect. I also loved that her (inevitable) romantic relationship seemed to challenge and strengthen her character. She didn’t dissolve into some weak and weapy mess who was in constant need of rescue. Instead, she becomes a natural and integral part of the group of kids she falls in with, and has meaningful relationships with more than one person.

The loyalty and trust-worthiness of characters and political entities is always in question, giving the story a huge number of entertaining plot twists. Although the novel did start off a little slow with necessary exposition of the camp and the disease and things,  once I’d got past the camp break-out, I found that this was a book I was drawn into, no matter how many other things I should have been doing.

I also thought that the revelation about Ruby’s parents could have happened a little sooner, since it wasn’t really all that big of a reveal. It was easy to figure out what must have happened to them early on and I think it could have been explained early on too, but other than those small complaints, I didn’t have that many problems it. It was fun, smart, and composed well.

The Wrap-Up

I recommend this to dystopian fans for sure. It’s one of my favorite dystopians of the year (and I’ve read many!). It ended in a really interesting and somewhat unexpected way, leaving me really interested to find out what happens next. Never Fade, the sequel, came out last month, and I’ll be tracking it down as soon as I can.

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