The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Release: December 18, 2012
Source: ARC (via trade)
When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has 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 was one of my most anticipated books of the year. So when I received an ARC via trade, I was ecstatic. I began to devour its pages.
The Darkest Minds is about a society in which, upon reaching a certain age, kids acquire superpowers. Dangerous powers. No one knows why or how, only that these kids are dangerous. To keep everyone else safe, these kids are locked up in camps meant to keep them in submission.
There are different levels of powers, described by color: blue, yellow, green, and (the most dangerous) orange. Ruby is one of the dangerous ones, with a power that is never fully explained until halfway through the book. While I appreciate the fact that Bracken wanted to show and not tell, withholding this information frustrated me.
As Ruby becomes imprisoned, and as Ruby escapes and travels in search of a safe haven, pieces of Ruby's past and pieces of her society are revealed in a similar "show and not tell" process. At times, I found it brilliant and immersive. Other times, it was confusing.
I found Ruby a great character. She's broken and full of self-loathing, but there is a glimmer of strength that shines through as the story progresses. Her character development is great. I would also like to express my love for Chubs, Zuzu, and Liam. They, like Ruby, are in search of East River--a safe haven for kids like them. Chubs manages to add humor to a story that is, in reality, very dark. He's such a lovable character! Zuzu is the youngest, and while she never speaks a word, she never fails to leave an impression on my reader heart. Then there is Liam, the love interest--determined, dependable, and a natural-born leader. While I think aspects of the romance could have been improved, I was ultimately satisfied with the slow-building relationship that Liam and Ruby have, based on mutual trust and respect.
And that ending? It shattered me. I was near tears when I turned the last page. If there was any doubt if I'd be reading the sequel, that ending sealed the deal.
RATING: 4 SLICES