Friday, January 25, 2013

Vouched Book: "The Darkest Minds" by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds
Alexandra Bracken
Book #1 of The Darkest Minds series
Publication: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal

Amazon B & N Goodreads
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.

The Darkest Minds  was one of those books I wanted months before it released, and I immediately bought the hardcover instead of the ebook copy, convinced I would love it.

I didn't.

While the premise of America's next gen and future being oppressed was intriguing, I didn't find some aspects believable. As a parent, I would never willingly hand over any one of my three children without seeing the "rehabilitation camp" myself. Even then, I can't imagine doing it, especially knowing I wouldn't be able to contact or see them for God knows how long. I understand some of the characters, like the female proganoist, Ruby, scared her parents and irrevocably changed her relationship with them, but I can't believe that America as a whole not questioning the government for the sanction of taking children, directly from school, "disease" or not. Nope, I can't. There are horrible parents, definitely fearful or lazy ones, but ... no. That's not happening nation-wide without some riots, a government building or two blown up, and quite a few officials shot.

I also couldn't believe a U.S. president overturning the Senate and House to have an indefinite term and have the people okay with it. A small part of me can because I see what happens today when fear, death, and children are involved, but from the beginning of the book, I wasn't sold on that or his actions and decisions along with the country's reactions, which really hurt my experience with the rest of the story.

While the prose and writing style was good—Bracken captured a young, vulnerable, highly influential girl's mind—I didn't connect. I didn't feel that the characters were in danger when we finally get some action. There were gaps of nothing but telling. It was one long road trip, mostly in someone's head and without a true course or end in sight. I began to skim and had to force myself to finish or even pick up the book, thinking, Surely this gets better.

It does. Kind of. The good part is at the end, but even then, the outcomes and reveals were so predictable.

That being said, I liked all the characters and relationships. Ruby, the young girl who spent six years hiding who and what she is, had a quiet strength that one couldn't wait to see emerge. Seeing her get close to others and come into her own—it was lovely. After a few scenes (because, at first, you're not sure if you want to like him), Chubbs became so lovable with his wit and sarcasm and the prickly exterior that covered the unyielding core to protect those he cared about. Then there's Liam ... *sigh* he's just one of those boys any mother would love, any teenage girl would be lucky to have even as a friend, and many boys should emulate.

And for once, though maybe to the dismay of others, the romance wasn't a focal point in the story or for the characters. I actually appreciated that change of pace in a YA dystopia.

All in all, The Darkest Minds  wasn't bad—I do think others will like it—but I expected and needed more than likable characters and good description. The very beginning and the very end were great, dark and provoking, enough for me to possibly contemplate picking up the next book if the reviews make it sound more promising. I only hope the next one continues on that first and last vein.


  1. Sorry you didn't like it more, but we seem to agree that the characters and relationships were the good part :)
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. Thanks. It was a bit disappointing for me, but I'm rooting for Bracken, in the end. She can write, but the storytelling part needed a little more oomph. Thanks for stopping by, Brandi!