Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review of The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 496
Publication Date: December 18th, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Borrowed from a friend

Back Cover

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 got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "concentration 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: 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. 

First Lines

"Grace Somerfield was the first to die."

In a Sentence

The Darkest Minds had a steady-moving plot with memorable secondary characters, but I kind of felt as if I'd heard it all before.

My Thoughts

I'd been interested in reading The Darkest Minds since I first heard of it, especially considering how much I enjoyed Alexandra Bracken's first novel, Brightly Woven. Which means that when another blogger offered to lend me her ARC over this past summer, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, once my graduate teaching assistant orientation started in mid-August, followed shortly by the first week of school (and my first week of teaching!), my free reading time became virtually non-existent. I didn't actually get around to starting The Darkest Minds until the middle of November, and because my reading time was so limited, it took me nearly three weeks to finish it. 

The book itself had a relatively fast moving plot, and I had no trouble becoming quickly absorbed in Ruby's story. With The Darkest Minds, Bracken has created a gripping dystopian world with a cast of vivid characters. Personally, I thought that the secondary characters Zu and Chubs were particularly memorable, and I really appreciated the additions their presence made to the book. Aside from Zu and Chubs, I felt connections with several other characters as well because I sympathized with their plight. There's always something about a damaged character that draws me into a book, and all of these characters were definitely damaged. 

I also enjoyed the romance in The Darkest Minds. In young adult fiction (especially in sub-genres of fantasy), romances often lean towards the forbidden, stalkerish, or obsessive, and what Ruby and Liam had seemed to me to be refreshingly healthy, considering they were two superpowered teenagers on the run. 

My only problem with The Darkest Minds is a relatively minor that it didn't seem all that different to me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, and I will definitely be reading (probably buying) the sequel, but I would have liked to have seen something that would have made it stand out a little bit more from all the other books in its genre. 

Overall, I found The Darkest Minds to be a steady-paced read with solid characters, if a little run-of-the-mill when it comes to the plot. I will definitely be continuing the series, and I'd recommend it to fans of the dystopian genre. A word to the wise though...brace yourself for the ending. It's one heck of a cliffhanger!

One last thing: if you're interested in trying before you buy, you can check out a 122 page excerpt by clicking here. That should be more than enough to tell if it's the book for you! 


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A few flaws but worth reading


  1. The book didn't really offer anything different genre-wise but the cliffhanger really KILLED me . . . makes me want to read the sequel even more now! Great review!

    1. I know what you mean! I saw it coming a little ways before it happened, and I was like...maybe she won't do it...AAAH! SHE DID IT!!! Lol.

  2. I'm so happy to hear that the romance is realistic and normal! I can't stand much more of those creepy relationships :p I love Dystopian books and I can't wait to read this one! It sounds good :)

    Great review.

  3. I too enjoyed the book but your right with so many books in this genre and yes the ending I saw but I had hoped she wouldn't but she did. Yes loved that it real and normal relationship too :)

  4. I started this, but I couldn't get past the first 100 pages. It was slow going, but I've heard some good things. I might pick it up again and give it another try.

  5. It sounds pretty good. I'm glad the characters were particulary memorable. That's a plus for me. And I LOVE the the romance is actually healthy. I don't know why so many books have them on the creepy side. haha


  6. My book club has chosen this for January, so I'm glad to hear it has some good points. Why do secondary characters stick out more to some of us? I adore many secondary characters more than the main ones!

  7. I've been sort of interested in this one. It sounds like it's really good, but I just haven't felt motivated to read it. That's a pretty good size excerpt to get a feel of it, though. :D

  8. Man, I feel bad, I've had a galley of this for months but put off reading it because it wasn't due out for ages and now it's almost being release, whoops!

    I am happy to hear you liked it as I haven't read any other reviews or Alex's previous book. The main characters sound appealing to me and I'm happy that the romance feels legit. I guess it's hard for dystopians to stand out these days, but if that's the only negative, then it doesn't sound too bad!

  9. First of all, please allow me a second to rejoice: You're reading FEEEED! I'm so happy. And nervous.

    I know what you mean about a book being good, excellent even, but not memorable. It's a good way to pass the time, but one you quickly forget. I'm glad the secondary characters stood out, at least. Great review as always, Natalie. Happy new year!

  10. I've also been wanting to read this one as well. I'm disappointed that it isn't something totally different... and that surprises me, but I also just want a good story in the end, so I don't mind either. I hate cliffies with a passion, so I may wait for the next installment in my hand before I read the first.

    Oh, I'm curious as to what you think about The Art of Racing in the Rain. Another one I've been wanting to read.

  11. I have been avoiding dystopians because I have some series to finish up. But this is one I have wanted to read since I heard of it. I probably won't read it until closer to when the next one releases and I'm thinking that's good since it has a killer cliffhanger.

  12. When you said that you hope that this book stand out from others of its kind, did you mean that it is the same like other books in the genre? Hmmm..this might be a boring read then I thought. Btw, thanks for the review..=)

    My Latest Review HERE

  13. Hah omg you're so right! Starkerish romance is taking over YA! It's definitely refreshing to come upon one that is a little more enjoyable like this. I really enjoyed this book as well--though I did find he romance went from absent to suddenly right the center of attention pretty badly but I really liked all of the characters. You're right the author really makes you see everyone's motivations to be able to understand them better. I have to check out Brightly Woven! This was my first novel by Bracken. Great review, doll!

  14. Ooo, this sounds like just my cup of tea. I haven't really heard anything about this one yet, but I'm definitely going to check it out now. You had at me at damaged characters. I'm a total sucker for damaged characters. Add in a romance that isn't abusive, stalkerish or creepy? Totally sold. :) I normally don't mind if it's something that doesn't feel new as long as the characters and writing are solid.


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