The Darkest Minds is written by Alexandra Bracken. It was published in 2012 by Hyperion. It is the first in a trilogy (what else is new?). Random tidbit: it was originally called Black is the Color. Bracken’s website can be found here.
Genre: Dystopian, Supernatural, Young Adult, Realistic
“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’m not one of them. Please, please, please…
I fell, dropping to my knees, bracing my hands against the tile, trying to keep from being sick all over myself and the floor. The white coat’s hand still gripped the back of my neck. “I’m Green,” I sobbed, the words half lost to the machine’s buzzing. The light had been bright before, but now it only amplified the pounding behind my eyes. I stared into his blank eyes, willing him to believe me. “I’m Green…please, please…”
But I saw my mother’s face, the smile the boy with the broken mouth had given me, like he had recognized something of himself in me. I knew what I was.
I looked up at the sound of the voice that floated down to me. I stared, and he stared right back, his eyes unfocused. He was mumbling something now, his mouth full of mush, like he was chewing on the words.
“Green,” he said, shaking his head.
Chubs slapped the side of the minivan. “Don’t tell me you believe that, Lee. We knew everyone by the time we broke out.”
Broke out. They actually escaped. Shock left me speechless for several moments until I asked, finally, “Really? All three thousand of them?”
The boys took a step back at the same time.
“You had three thousand kids at your camp?” Liam asked.
“Why?” I looked between them, unnerved. “How many were in your camp?”
“Three hundred at most,” Liam said. “Are you sure?” Three thousand?”
Warnings: Swearing, violence
Recommended Age Range: 16+
What I Liked:
Oh, man, this book. THIS BOOK.
Ok, so first of all, Alexandra Bracken is, like, 23 years old. She wrote her first book, Brightly Woven (which is also amazing, and something that I will review in the future), when she was about 17. She revised it for a few years, but still. The point is, she’s a young’un. And this book is fantastic. It’s really, really good.
Ruby’s development is great. She sees herself as a monster because that’s all she’s been taught for almost half of her life (this book is a great example of brainwashing). She struggles with herself as an Orange because she sees how people view Oranges, and she sees how Oranges act. As in, all the ones she interacts with are power hungry and want to control people (this book is also a great example of how power corrupts). She doesn’t want to accept her abilities or use them because she’s afraid she will end up like them. The end of the book, and the summary for the next, promises more inner conflict and development with Ruby and her powers and her acceptance of her powers.
The twists and turns in the storyline were great. Some were unexpected, some inevitable, but still good, the ending in particular. It leaves you with a “Hmm…how is she going to get out of this one?” type of feel. It’s not really a cliffhanger, but it still will want you wanting more.
I actually wasn’t quite sure how to label this one, genre-wise. The Library of Congress calls it “science fiction,” but it’s really not. It’s more Dystopian than anything, but I also labeled it as Supernatural because of the psychic powers the kids have. And obviously it’s Realistic because it takes place in the realistic/natural world.
Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, I really, really enjoyed this book. I think Bracken has a great career in front of her if she can keep writing books like this one and Brightly Woven.
What I Didn’t Like:
The Darkest Minds is a fantastic book. Ruby has some great potential character development ready to happen, and the things that happened in this book will just leave you wanting to know more about this world and what happens to the people. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian thrillers. The hardest part will be waiting six months for the next book to come out.
Coming Up Next: The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman