Review | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds #1)

Format: Trade Paperback, 499 Pages
Published: December 18, 2012
Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, Action/Adventure
ISBN: 9781423157373
Age Range: 15+
Rating: 5/5

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.

About six weeks ago, I stumbled across the third book in this trilogy (In The After Light). I was intrigued by the artwork and design of the cover, enough to read the flap on the dust jacket. The premise of the third book was so exciting, that I talked animatedly to my boss about it, who then recommended that I check out a website called Fantastic Fiction (Check out Thursday’s post for more on them), to see if this was the first book. It wasn’t, it was the third.
I rushed to purchase the first book, thinking that even if I didn’t end up liking it, spending ten dollars on a book I may eventually donate, was no great loss in the grand scheme of things. When I got home that night, I grabbed the book, kicked up my feet and settled in to see if I was going to enjoy it or not.
I. Was. Hooked. From the emotions that Ruby hides, not only from the PSI Guards, but from her eventual friends and allies as well, to the dark, sarcastic humour that is woven between the pages, Bracken’s first novel is excellently written. Ruby reminds me a lot of Tris (Divergent by Veronica Roth) in her actions and mannerisms, although she is a much warmer character as the books progress.
The premise of the series, is that children have become infected with a disease called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration), which killed 98% of the population of children in the USA, when they began to reach puberty. Children that manage to survive were labeled psi, due to their newly developed psychokinetic abilities. The children are rounded up and taken to ‘rehabilitation camps’ to help them overcome and suppress their abilities.
There are five different groups that the PSI Forces classify the children as: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red. Each group has different abilities that segregate them from others. Reds and Oranges are considered to be the most dangerous, as they can use fire and telepathic abilities respectively. Yellows have the ability to control electricity, and Blues are able to use telekinesis. Greens are considered to be the least dangerous, with only heightened intelligence as a side effect.
Throughout the novel, we meet a slew of other characters who have a massive impact on Ruby’s life, and the story going forward. It provides each character, and not just Ruby, with the opportunity to grow and flourish within the pages. The characters come alive in such a way, that you actually feel their aches and triumphs, and agree with the tough decisions they’re forced to make. If I had to make a comparison, this book is very similar to that of ‘Lord of the Flies’ in its approach to its plotlines. It is also extremely self-aware (almost in a metauniverse of sorts) in that IAAN only seems to have impacted the United States of America, and the characters are very aware of this subject.
The book quickly finds its footing as it introduces Ruby and her powers at her rehabilitation camp. Information is fired off quickly throughout the books, but the pacing makes it feel almost like an action movie, in book format. All in all, I’m very confident in giving this a solid 5 stars, and would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested.

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