Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds

by Alexandra Braken
Book 1 of The Darkest Minds

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Side note (7/15/18):  I read this book back in 2013 almost a year after it first came out, but have just gotten around to transferring the review to this blog, as it was originally posted on another platform (see link at end of post).  This review, as well as the rest of the reviews for the trilogy have been sitting, ready to be published in my draft section for months now, and I decided it was time to get them published.  Of course, the fact that a movie is being adapted now is purely coincidental.

Happy reading!
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed.  Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police.  Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.”  She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.  When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life.  She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River.  She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.

I love a story with great characters and character interactions.

The Darkest Minds had a very awesome makeshift little family of four as we follow Ruby through her short adventure with Liam, Chubs, and Zu, and frankly, there is nothing I love more in any kind of novel.  And to be totally honest, it really had been the characters who made this book the wonderful experience it had been for me.  Ruby was a good heroine to follow, although her character description was rather standard as the kick-butt, strong, heart-of-gold, female main character who leads her friends into the heart of our dystopian controversy.  The rest of the characters were pretty quirky in their ways as well (especially Chubs), and to be frank, if not for the character relationships, this probably would have been just another YA dystopia trilogy that you end up liking while you're reading it, but that you would forget about after it's over.

Liam, especially, was a personal favorite for reasons that I may not understand at the moment.  He's gentlemanly and caring and unsure of himself, and has so many flaws as a leader... but for some reason, that makes me want to cuddle him and make him feel better.  The bonds between each of the four were pretty awesome: Liam and Ruby were sweet, Zu and Liam were adorable... etc., etc....  But I especially loved Ruby and Chubs together as friends, though they started off as a pair of perfect strangers who didn't really care about each other and Chubs was annoyed by Ruby's inclusion in their group.  I loved how each of them bonded in their own ways; and I loved the sweet friendship to romance development that took place between Ruby and Liam (not just because it wasn't instalove, I promise).

Outside of my love for the characters, this book had all the typical, fast-paced and suspenseful dealings as all the trendy dystopians now-a-days; so while the ideas unique to this book were intriguing (kids either died or turned into super humans with strange powers and the world broke into pieces after that), and some of the interesting twists were... well, rather interesting, the concept was still a predictable one.  I hate to say that "it's just another trendy YA dystopia," but to be honest, it kind of is.

I must say, I DID enjoy the plot devices from the "concentration camp" type scenarios at the beginning, to the adventure that Ruby joined to find a place where they could belong safely.

In spite of all that though, I still found this story to be highly addictive and easy to fall right into; I found myself reciting my standard "One more chapter, then I'll sleep" mantra.  And to top it off, I am undoubtedly looking forward to the next book in this series and will be pining in agony as I toss Never Fade into my ever-growing pile of "OMG!  I physically need this book, like, RIGHT NOW!"

Something about The Darkest Minds just happened to grab me.  I don't know what it is, but I'm not arguing with it.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in October 2013.

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