Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.

10576365When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.

5 Stars

The loyal fandom of Alexandra Bracken’s dark, gritty world of The Darkest Minds have a lot to be excited about. While it may be some four years ago now since the final book in this amazing trilogy was first released not only have we been utterly blessed with a faithfully solid film adaption by the producers of Stranger Things but we also have a new installment in the form of The Darkest Legacy (which I am super pumped for btw). The Darkest Minds is a series that I just keep coming back to – and not only because I am completely obsessing over the film (although I seriously am, check out my review here). The Darkest Minds is just one of those books that I read at that right time; it fully resonated with me, both it’s characters and their haunting story but it’s also a story very much relevant to what is happening in our own reality.

On the surface, The Darkest Minds is about Ruby as she escapes a government “rehabilitation camp” (but is basically the futures version of the WWII concentration camps) and joins up with the literal dream team to find East River – a place where kids can live safely together and track down their families. Obviously there’s a lot more to the plot than this, you’ve got a nice juicy mystery in the form of IAAN, a deadly disease that has manifested in America’s children. Most of the nation’s children have died and those who remain have developed abnormal abilities that render them “dangerous”. So, superficially, The Darkest Minds is an epic road trip set in an almost apocalyptic future and yet it has a much deeper meaning…

The Darkest Minds is a story of survival and family. It’s about the power that we as the younger generation holds and having the courage to find your voice in a repressive society in which fear breads ignorance and hatred. Its about how the family you make can become your true home and not necessarily the family you were born into. Basically, The Darkest Minds is required reading and is not merely another YA dystopian series.

I think my overall favorite aspect of The Darkest Minds is the compelling characters and the overall sense of family. Look out Court of Dreams because Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu are such a lively, dynamic squad. Every page featuring the “Black Betty” crew is banterful, sometimes a little snarky and down right hilarious. I think Chubs is blessed with the best lines. His character will have you laughing out loud (be aware of strange looks when reading in public because you will feel all those feels) and gasping for air with his witty jokes and sarcastic humor. Zu, despite not being the man protagonist (or able to speak for that matter) has got to be, hands down my favorite character. I just adore her, for someone so young and small (If I remember correctly she’s around eleven???) she is such a little bad ass! She’s cute, sassy and omg I just want to hug her and keep her safe!

I guess I should talk about our girl Ruby now, you know, seeing she is the protagonist and all. I think Ruby is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise crowded genre. Ruby is a reluctant hero. When we first meet Ruby she is trapped in Thurmond (the very worst camp – basically a YA Auschwitz) and she not only believes the lie that she is a monster but she is utterly terrified of what she can do and what she might do to those close to her. And yet, despite her fears and the fact that she was shipped of to Thurmond at only ten years old she is passionate and incredibly strong. It’s so inspiring to watch her grow as her arch develops. When she discovers a family that she is willing to fight for she will do what ever it takes to protect it. Ruby is flawed but she is a strong willed protagonist who only becomes stronger as the series progresses.

In YA literature I think that we’ve all grown accustomed to a certain type of love interest. You all know what I’m talking about. We expect the tall, dark, brooding guy – that mysterious romantic rebel. Much like Ruby, Liam is a book boyfriend that stands out among the crowded grandstand that is the YA love interest. Liam is such a sweetheart and I am completely, head over heels in love with him and his swoon-worthy Southern drawl. Liam is the ring leader of our gang of fugitives. He wears his heart of gold right out there on his sleeve and is unable to hide a single emotion. Despite being a gentleman and an open book, Liam has still known his fair share of violence. Having escaped both his own camp and a mysterious terrorist group who refer to themselves as the Children’s League, Liam makes it his mission to protect others. I am 100% here for his hero complex and adorable charms – where can I get me a Liam???

So If you’ve been living under a rock for the past five or so years and haven’t yet read The Darkest Minds then what in hell are you still doing on my blog??? Go and find a copy asap – trust me you will thank me later. The Darkest Minds is not your average YA dystopian (hell, I’m not even really a fan of the genre so you know that if I’m telling you to go and read it, then you’d better go and read it). It’s haunting, raw and surprisingly realistic. You’ll fall in love with these characters and once you crack open that first page, you’ll never be able to let go of Alexandra Bracken’s world. The mystery only deepens as it draws you further and further down the rabbit hole. Just be warned – anyone with a soul will require tissues, hot tea and some chocolate to get through the ending. It still gets me every dang time. Highly recommended guys!

Alexandra

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