Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken Review #86

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 488
Source: Chapters
Links: Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Chapters/ Book Depository
Rating: 4/5
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. Image and Bio come from Goodreads
Where do I even begin? The world building was freaking unbelievable in this novel. I immediately got hooked and emotionally connected to the USA Ruby found herself living in. The horrors these children faced and the traumatization they received was really well described and as a reader I felt absolutely shocked at times. All the characters were super believable and their individual personalities really stood out. As a reader all I wanted to do was help the characters out of their situation and the life predicaments they were facing. Alexandra Bracken's writing, within the first 50 pages, showed how messed up, and dystopian, the United States has become.  I do not think I have ever read a dystopian novel that has introduced the story world as well as Bracken did.

Ruby is one of the main characters (beside Liam, Zu & Chubs) in The Darkest Minds. Through first person POV she introduces the readers to the horrors known as rehabilitation camps that children are forced to go into if they survived IAAN (or have extraordinary powers: photographic memory, mind control etc;). I won't lie I thought of WWII when I was reading about Thurmond Camp. Children are forced to live in unbearable conditions, work and are constantly watched by soldiers that have rifles in their hands. Children are even punished with what is called the "White Noise". White Noise is a noise only children with powers can hear making the adults and soldiers unaffected by it awful sound.

Girls and boys are separated and children are factor into a colour (Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red) that represents their ability (with Greens being not that harmful and reds and oranges being deadly). Children with dangerous powers (red & orange) were tested on and presumed to be killed.

Ruby is factored into green even though she secretly hides the fact that she is an orange. Traumatized and frightened by her powers she views herself as a monster. This is really well shown and I like how Ruby develops over the course of the book. She goes from viewing her powers as making her a monster to seeing how she can use them to help and protect other people.

Ruby eventually breaks out of Thurmond and joins Liam (blue), Chubs (blue) and Zu (yellow) who are kids that have also escaped out of their own camps and are on the run from Skip Tracers (bounty hunters that will hand in kids for money) and practically everyone else. With their beat up minivan, aka Betty, they are searching for East River camp in order to contact their parents and deliver a letter.

I don't want to spoil too much so I am going to stop handing out information. I loved how the four of these characters interacted with each other (from Zu's quietness to Liam and Chubs fighting over kittens and Betty).

The romance that develops between Liam and Ruby is slow and does not overshadow the entire book which I extremely liked.

The book did drag for me between pages 200 to 300 and that is really the only complaint I have about it. I guess in a way the slowness kind of represents the long journey they faced trying to find East River and all the obstacles that got in their way during the ride.

Zu was by-far probably my favourite character.

Clancy Gray was the antagonist of the book. He was so manipulative and as a reader you just get a bad vibe from him the minute he is introduced. However, at the same time you are curious about his history and what made him the way he is. I think that will be further explored in the next book.

The ending broke my heart. I literally wanted to scream at Ruby and throw the book however, I could not because I was reading while in a workshop that was going on. I also wanted to cry because it was such a sad ending. I really hate when a character get their mind erased. Becca Fitzpatrick did that in her Hush Hush series and that drove me bonkers. I really hope that the character will rediscover their memories quickly in book two.

Overall this was a great read and I can definitely see this being adapted to film or television.

Have you read The Darkest Minds? What is your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Great world building is a huge draw for me. I have been looking forward to making the time for this one myself. Great review.
Suzi Q., The Book Dame

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