The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken really started off with a bang, giving readers a glimpse into a dystopian-esque future consisting of millions of children dying and teenagers developing super abilities.
I picked this book up at Barnes & Noble after scanning literally all the new books on the shelves with my Goodreads barcode scanner. Sure enough, The Darkest Minds was one of the few that received higher ratings so I couldn’t help but purchase a copy along with book two of the Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi. I wanted a new series with some good action to get my heart pumping and mind racing.
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.
The Darkest Minds is unique in its own way. The concept of a girl escaping the life of a brutal government rehabilitation camp is quite fascinating. I absolutely loved the backstory — children dying from an unknown disease only to have those that survived develop unique special abilities that scare the living bejusus out of the government.
But while the premise is solid, I do feel it could have been executed better overall…it could have been more …captivating. Bracken is no doubt a seriously gifted writer – and she’s young too (only one year older than me!). But aside from the first and last two chapters, I felt the rest was sort of just there with not enough going on to fully capture my attention and keep me on my toes. We get these deep passages from Bracken that show off her seriously good writing skills, but at the end of the day, it felt like I didn’t get anything out of it. No emotion. No connection. Nothing.
It’s kind of weird…
The Darkest Minds gives us just enough excitement to keep us interested but not enough to make me stay up all night to finish the book in one sitting. I was happy with the majority of the characters that Bracken created – all had their own characteristics that I personally enjoyed reading from Liam’s good charming self to Chubs’ aloof attitude. But I sort of wished Liam was more memorable in that he said or did something that made me swoon (whether sweet or sexy).
The only person I wish could have been more remarkable was Ruby. I’m just a very hard person to please and I know how difficult it is to create a likeable main character, but for the life of me I just could not understand Ruby. For one thing, I was surprised at how cultured she was for a person who had been locked up since she was ten years old. For someone who was isolated from the outside world, she wasn’t as clueless as she should have been and was using way too many catchphrases to convince me so. Also, her romance with Liam came out of nowhere which left me sort of unattached to it all. There just wasn’t enough time spent building their relationship.
Aside from Ruby being attractive (as it was mentioned multiple times), I’m not exactly sure when or where the sparks came flying. It just happened. And suddenly it was all, “I only have eyes for Liam.” I guess what I’m saying is: For a story about all these dangerous superpowers and seriously demented kids with telepathic capabilities, I was just hoping for something more epic between Liam and Ruby. Because while Bracken gave us a pretty intense ending for our two lovebirds, it could have been so much more meaningful if I had been more convinced of the idea of Ruby and Liam together. Instead: No emotion. No connection. Nothing. To be honest, Ruby and Chubs’ relationship was the only one that actually developed throughout the entire book.
Don’t get me wrong. The book was good. Enough for me to finish and actually write a review. I enjoyed it…yes, but did I love it? Not really. Would I read again? Of course! I think Bracken is a great author, I just needed more action and a bit more romance — the Darkest Minds stayed at a happy medium for both.
Regardless, I have hope for this series and am curious to see what happens next. We’ve got a strong author on board and a book that gives you a glimpse at a twisted and disturbed future. Pick up your book of The Darkest Mind by Alexandra Bracken and let me know what you think!
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Photo Credit: Photo credit to Scooter Tim