Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest MindsThe Darkest Minds
by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Publication Date: 18 December 2012
Disney Hyperion, Hardcover, 488 pages
Source: Library

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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.

Rating: ★★★★

Disclaimer: I was rather busy and hence distracted when I read this book you might want to take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

I had been really looking forward to reading The Darkest Minds because I’ve seen so many amazing reviews about it on Goodreads and it has been some time (about 4.5 months?) since I last read a dystopian novel. It was a pretty good book with the exception of one rather glaring issue—Ruby.

Ruby was such a hot and cold character; one moment you would admire her courage and intelligence yet the next her pushover attitude might make you want to yank your—or her—hair out. Although some may see her bravery mixed with bouts of cowardice as something that made her more ‘real’, I found the clash of personality traits too inconsistent and jumbled, and was left grasping at wisps of random characteristics, wondering who exactly is Ruby?

Moreover, I hated how she let one particular character dictate what she should do because I knew that particular character was bad news from the start—and I’m sure I’m not the only one who guessed it right. On the bright side, the decisions Ruby made at the end of the book were very redeeming. It gave me some newfound hope that maybe—just maybe—she could live up to her full potential in the following books.

Apart from the problem of an unsatisfying protagonist, The Darkest Minds had been an interesting and adventurous read. Following Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu on their journey to find East River had been exhilarating and the abundant dangers, I wished I had been right there in their midst! The bond between the four of them was also extremely well-developed. Although they had not been fast friends, specifically Ruby and Chubs, it was lovely watching their friendships grow as they learn to trust and count on one another. Admittedly, the camaraderie depicted here was one of the most touching I’ve read of!

Each of the other major characters were wonderfully colorful too. Liam: the trusting and kind leader. Chubs: the skeptical, intelligent, annoying—but fondly so—one, sort of like a mom. And Zu: the shy little girl who’s like a beacon of hope to everyone else. They might all be damaged in some way due to the world they lived in but seeing that such a hard life had not broken them was both impressive and inspiring. Especially Liam, who can still be cheery, positive and selfless in spite of the atrocities he had witnessed.

As for the world-building, it was okay; polished but not very believable. Or well, it would remain rather unbelievable until we find out the cause of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN), the disease in the novel which killed off most of America’s children and left the surviving ones with various types of special abilities. And no, the cause will not be revealed in this first book so we have to wait (not-so-patiently).

To sum it up, The Darkest Minds had been a really enjoyable read and regardless of the issues I had with it, the way it had concluded was beautiful, albeit heartbreaking. I loved how it showed Ruby has learned from the experiences she was put through and hinted at a much more proactive and strong protagonist in the next installment. Honestly though, I might’ve liked the whole book better if I’d had the time to read it within a fewer number of days and not been so occupied with school assignments.

P.S. There’s a part in the book where Ruby sees a vandalism which only wrote “Matthew 19:14” and nothing else. For those of you who don’t have a Bible, I’ve searched up the verse for you:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


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