The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Published in 2012
Purchased from Barnes and Noble
“Imagine someone reaching straight into your chest, past the bones and blood and guts, and taking a nice firm hold on your spinal cord. Now imagine that they start shaking you so fast the world starts bulging and buckling under you. Imagine not being able to figure out later if the thought in your head is really yours or an unintentional keepsake from someone else’s mind. Imagine the guilt of knowing you saw someone’s deepest, darkest fear or secret…
And then imagine the soul-crushing migraine that follows, lasting anywhere between a few hours and a few days. That was what it was like. That was why I tried to avoid my mind so much as brushing up against someone else’s at all costs. I knew the consequences. All of them.
And now I knew for certain what would happen if they found me out.” (Bracken 47)
When the IAAN virus struck killing a large majority of America’s children, many of the remaining children suddenly developed strange powers. In an effort to contain these children and “treat” them while also keeping the rest of the country “safe”, the government locked all children between the ages of 10-16 in these treatment facilities (which are actually nothing more than work camps). The children in these camps are separated into colors according to their abilities: green and blue are the colors assigned to the children with the more mild powers, while oranges and reds are the most powerful and dangerous. Sixteen year old Ruby, the protagonist of this story, is an orange who has been secretly disguising herself as a green. With the help of the Children’s League, an anti-government group, Ruby escapes from one of these camps. After quickly realizing that the League is not what it really seems, Ruby runs away and suddenly finds herself in the company of three other escapees. Together, they continue the (very real) struggle of trying to stay alive.
The Darkest Minds is a thrilling Dystopian novel. Fans of the Maximum Ride series will find similarities between the fast paced, action packed writing style of this book and that of James Patterson’s bestselling series. The story-line is interesting and exciting, and it keeps you on your toes. There is a large amount of tension throughout the novel, and Ruby, despite being the narrator of the novel, is pretty mysterious when it comes to her past.
The central characters of this novel are one of the biggest reasons this book is so good. Each of the four central characters have escaped from camps and have been through a similar hell . Liam, the leader of the trio which Ruby ultimately joins (and also the main love interest), is sweet, and somewhat naive (in an endearing way) when it comes to other people’s intentions and character. He’s always willing to put others’ needs ahead of his own, and this makes him a lovable character. Chubs is sassy, smart, and sensible. He’s not very welcoming to new situations or people, but slowly opens up to Ruby and befriends her. Zu, the youngest member of the group, is adorable and fun. Although she isn’t able to speak, she has no difficulty communicating with the rest of the group. Being the youngest, the rest of the group makes an effort to protect her as well as they can (though, that’s no small task given the fact that they are all constantly running for their lives). Meanwhile, Ruby is a great protagonist. She isn’t super strong, but she doesn’t give up and doesn’t go down without a fight. One of her main character traits is that she goes to great lengths to try to protect the people she cares about.
I honestly tried very hard to find something I didn’t like about this book, and there wasn’t much. Maybe one of the things that I noticed the most was that there isn’t a large amount of description when it comes to things like characters’ physical characteristics. There is enough to allow you to form an image of what the characters should look like, but not enough to form a very clear, vivid image. Also, while I did love this book, I wouldn’t say that it was original. A bunch of kids with special abilities trying to stay alive…nothing new or special (although I’ll admit, their powers are pretty cool). However, that doesn’t mean that this book isn’t worth reading. I certainly recommend it, and I’m definitely planning on reading the second book as The Darkest Minds ends on a big plot-twisty cliff hanger.