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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (edition 2012)

by Alexandra Bracken

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353None30,830 (4.06)5
Title:The Darkest Minds
Authors:Alexandra Bracken
Info:Hyperion Book CH (2012), Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Review to come :) ( )
  Emily_Anne | Mar 16, 2014 |
Let's see now... This is a fantastic book. I just figured I'd do this review so I can do the Never Fade review on this blog. You see, I don't like doing a review on a second book, when I haven't done the first. And I'm currently reading Never Fade, so I just figured I'd get this out of the way before I finish it.

Alright, so, this is a story that takes place in the future where the younger children are infected with a disease called IAAN. Everyone else who isn't infected(or so I think, It's been a while since I read this book.) has powers and people fear them. They fear the children, their powers. So, they send them to labor camps and do labor work for them and yea..

Now, let me mention something. The beginning was slow. Yes. It was slow. It took me a while to get into the book. It got more interesting after a few 200 pages or so, but yea. I'm glad I pushed through, because this was a great read!

It's sad, pitiful and heartbreaking to read what those children go through. I mean, wow. The scenes were intense when those guards/people/warrior men were like pushing the children around and stuff. And when Sam stood up for Ruby, and she expected Ruby to stand up for her...I was like "What the what?" Is there any logic in that?

I also want to point our Alexandra Bracken's writing. It's outstanding! There was so much detail, and the details didn't bore the heck out of me. I literally felt like I was there, as a ghost... The writing was also funny. Like : HAHAHAHHAA. Okay, Sorry.

And, the characters. Woah. There was a huge development in Ruby from the beginning of the book to the end. It was a surprise actually. And I was actually there, in the story, watching her develop throughout the whole book. Ruby's choices were sometime reckless, but, you know..Panic takes over. That's what happens. And Liam and Chubs and Zu. Oh gosh. So perfect. So, remember the time when Zu and Ruby was at a store or something, and they were picking out some clothes for Liam and them, and Zu wanted a piece of clothing(I forgot what, a skirt?Shirt?Pants?Idk) but she felt like she didn't deserve it. I was like : You do deserve it! Wear it! It was so heartbreaking when she thought that. Anyways, yea. The character development with all the characters was splendid!

Last thing to mention, the ENDING. OMGOSH. For real now? Alexandra...her writing at the end... Omgosh. I can't even. The way she uses a story in her novel to lead to that one thing at the end. I just wish, as I'm reading Never Fade, that Ruby finds a way to reverse what she did. ( )
  Bookablies | Jan 27, 2014 |
Decent enough dystopia. The plot was strong as were the characters, at least for the most part. I thought the main character's confusion was mostly useful in helping us understand her world, because she didn't. But unfortunately I found the ending to be disappointing enough that I'm not sure I want to go seek out the second book. ( )
  callmecayce | Jan 8, 2014 |
This book is so cool! Tell concept of this IAAN disease is interesting! I love all the flashbacks and my favorite character is Chubs!!!!! It is a must read!:) ( )
  melmoo15 | Jan 1, 2014 |
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Cover Story: Mysterious insignia is mysterious.

YA book covers. ItÛªs either a freakish close-up of a blandly pretty face, a wispy girl in an inappropriate dress, or a cryptic abstract symbol. If I had to pick one, I‰Ûªd pick the latter, because at least it doesn‰Ûªt turn me off like a big face does. (A big face screams, ‰ÛÏI can‰Ûªt read this in public!‰Û) This one has stand-out colors and repeated mentions of the symbol in the text, so I‰Ûªm OK with it.

First Line: ‰ÛÏWhen the White Noise went off, we were in the Garden, pulling weeds.‰Û

The Deal: Ruby grows up in a world where turning ten years old is not a cause for celebration, but despair. More than half of her class has died, and it isn‰Ûªt just a local phenomenon: the plague has struck the entire US. Instead of dying, Ruby is one of the few who develop special powers. The government has helpfully come up with a classification system (as they do) and assigned the survivors colors based on their powers. They also helpfully round up all the super-charged preteens and put them into ‰ÛÏrehabilitation‰Û camps, but it turns out that putting all the super-charged preteens together isn‰Ûªt a crackerjack idea, so the government disappears all of the kids with the most dangerous powers. Ruby has been in Thurmond, the most notorious camp of all, for six years, having convinced everyone that she‰Ûªs a harmless Green (extra smart code-breakers). With the help of a mysterious group called the Children‰Ûªs League, she breaks out of Thurmond, but their plans for her aren‰Ûªt any more innocent. She ends up with a small group of teens searching for a promised safe haven, but the closer she grows to them, the more she worries they‰Ûªll discover her big secret: she‰Ûªs actually an Orange (mind control) who fears her powers ever since she accidentally erased herself from her best friend‰Ûªs memory.

Awesome Things: Color-coded superpowers. Use of the word ‰ÛÏpsi‰Ûª. Government conspiracies. Anti-government conspiracies. Memory altering (‰ÛÏWhen do I get my own flashy-thing memory-messer-upper?‰Û). Terrible things happening to parents. (Seriously, the scene where Ruby remembers what happened to her parents? Gut wrenching). Watership Down. Road trips. Black Betty. Living in an abandoned warehouse store and raiding it for pink girly clothes. Idyllic safe havens that come with a sneaky Price. The name Clancy.

Style & Substance: This is so, so different from Bracken‰Ûªs first novel, a high fantasy named Brightly Woven (aside from the insistence that magic be color-coded, as it is in both books). While I enjoyed this one, and I think her writing is stronger and more sure, I have to admit that I still like Brightly Woven more ‰ÛÒ maybe because at the time high fantasy/romance didn‰Ûªt feel as overdone as dystopia/romance does these days, and maybe because I am a sucker for the unreliable, wily, tragic hero, and maybe because I think the weaving-based magic system is still more inventive than mysterious plague powers. Maybe it is just a haze of romantic nostalgia, since I read Brightly Woven so long ago.

My favorite parts of this book involved the little family Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu (and Black Betty) make up while they‰Ûªre on the road. I love that it develops organically ‰ÛÒ that they all have to learn to trust each other and that it‰Ûªs not easy. I love the little character details, like Zu‰Ûªs love of girly things, and Chubs‰Ûªs clandestine reading (and his interest in sewing), and Liam‰Ûªs protective gentlemanliness. I love the moments of friction in the group, such as the moments when Chubs gets fed up with being the butt of Liam‰Ûªs teasing. Their relationships ground the more intense, exciting parts of the story, and Bracken does an excellent job foreshadowing the ominous truth at the heart of the safe haven by describing how the characters pull away from each other through Clancey‰Ûªs subtle manipulation.

Bracken also gets kudos for making the (many) flashback scenes just as compelling as the present-day part of the story. A lot of the set up has to do with the characters‰Ûª secrets ‰ÛÒ what happened to their families, what happened when their powers got out of control, what they suffered through in the camps and after their escapes. The scenes about Ruby‰Ûªs parents and the rest of the group‰Ûªs first escape from their rehabilitation camp are particularly gripping.

Like many firsts in a series, there is a LOT of set up in this book. There‰Ûªs the plague, which is as yet unexplained and somehow weirdly only in the US. There‰Ûªs the search for the hidden safe haven. There‰Ûªs Children‰Ûªs League agents after Ruby. There‰Ûªs the skiptracers (government-hired bounty hunters) after them all. There‰Ûªs letters to parents they have to deliver on behalf of fallen friends. There‰Ûªs the mysterious disappearance of the Reds and Oranges, who might be experiments or might be a secret army or might be dead. There‰Ûªs Chubs‰Ûªs parents and their anti-government work. There‰Ûªs Clancy Gray and his father, the president, and some twisty, Graceling-Leck-inspired memory games. There‰Ûªs a sweet and an icky side to a love triangle. It all ties together by the end (well, except for undefined world-building issues that remind me of what I disliked in Wither, which I‰Ûªm reserving judgment on) and there‰Ûªs a lot of momentum going in to the second book.

Not-Awesome Things: Clancy, Clancy, Clancy. Did anyone not see that coming? I actually think Bracken played it as well and subtly as she could, but still. He did not have much dimension as a villain. Also, the ending. Hate the ending. Hate the memory wipe. Hate the way Ruby justifies it. It‰Ûªs one of my least favorite plots: the ‰ÛÏI must do this terrible thing to do against your wishes because I want to protect you and I am a presumptuous ass who knows better and I‰Ûªm sure this is going to do the trick and not going to come back and bite me on the ass‰Û plot. It‰Ûªs the most obvious route for the story to go and it undercuts all of the fabulous character development Ruby does up until that point, where she actually seems to understand when Liam explains to her earlier why he would always rather have the bad memories. He did say that, right, I‰Ûªm not imagining it? As a sacrifice, it‰Ûªs not noble; it‰Ûªs selfishness disguised as noble; it‰Ûªs self-serving.

Maybe that‰Ûªs the point, though. The things I hate about this particular trope may be something that others love. It‰Ûªs dramatic and tragic but, for me, too easy, a dues ex machina. (For the record, I also hate body-swap stories and stories of mistaken identity. I just find them so frustrating I can barely stand it.) Bracken gets kudos for making me angry, at least, since that means I‰Ûªm invested in the characters, but it also means that I might rage quit the series depending on how the second one goes. Will she take this all the way and force Ruby and Liam to start over as strangers for the rest of the series, or will it be more like Sophie Jordan‰Ûªs Vanish, where the mind-wipe slips away when it‰Ûªs most convenient?

You Should Read This: If you liked X-Men: First Class because it focused more on the mutants as young adults. If you‰Ûªre looking for another solid teen dystopia. If you‰Ûªre willing to buy sudden, unexplainable plagues targeted at highly specific age groups. If you‰Ûªve ever color-coded anything. If you like thinking about whether it would be better to hang on to bad memories or erase them.

Also Read: Other teen dystopias involving diseases, such as Legend, Wither, Delirium, The Eleventh Plague. Other teen dystopias involving dangerous paranormal powers, like Shatter Me (if you can stand it). Bracken‰Ûªs other book, Brightly Woven, to marvel over how different it is.

Also Watch: X-Men: First Class. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Push. Chronicle. (OK, I haven‰Ûªt seen those last two, but you have to admit they fit, right?)

I reserve the right to add to this when I think of more stuff. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this eARC.

( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
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For Stephanie and Daniel, who were in every minivan with me
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"Sixteen-year-old Ruby breaks out of a government-run 'rehabilitation camp' for teens who acquired dangerous powers after surviving a virus that wiped out most American children"--

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