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

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