Rating – 4
About four years ago, I watched a booktube video that suggested I read The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Since that same person advised her subscribers to read Throne of Glass – one of my all-time favourite series in the whole wide world – I thought that it only made sense to read this book too. However, I pushed it aside in favour of focusing on school, and when other, more pressing reads were released, Bracken’s work was somewhere near the middle of my TBR pile.
When news of the upcoming movie adaptation came out, I knew I’d have to read it soon. So, a few days ago, I finally managed to finish this rollercoaster ride posing as a novel.
A general synopsis: On her tenth birthday, Ruby discovered the powers she had been left with as a mysterious disease killed nearly all of America’s children. Sent to the rehabilitation facility, Thurmond, she spends years with other children who have dangerous abilities just like she does. Now sixteen, Ruby leaves Thurmond and runs into a group of runaways led by a boy named Liam. Together, they seek a safe haven while battling with the forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Some non-spoilery thoughts: I liked this book a lot. I know I say that waaay too often, but it’s the truth. There are very few novels that I will outright dislike, and perhaps I’ll share them in another post soon. Anyway, I thought that The Darkest Minds was a fascinating, clever read. It’s perfect for all lovers of YA and fantasy-fiction with a side of possible sci-fi. The characters are engaging and the story is compelling, but the plot starts out a little slow. While reading it, I wasn’t constantly being bombarded by new emotions, and yet I wanted more. In my opinion, it’s not the type of book that you’ll find yourself unable to stop reading, but you’ll find that you want to finish it anyway. Also, it’s relatively funny, and almost scary at times because we’re in the protagonist’s head – we don’t know what’s happening outside of her perspective. Still, I do greatly recommend this book, hence, the reasonably high rating.
CAUTION: EVERY WORD AFTER THIS INCLUDES SPOILERS!!! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
To be honest, I almost closed the book after the first few chapters. I wasn’t immediately drawn in, so it took about a hundred pages before I was fully immersed within Ruby’s world. Once I was, I still wasn’t as emotionally invested as I usually would be with a really really really good book, so I was overall a little disappointed. Ruby’s story is sad, heartbreakingly so, but I found it hard to sympathize with her.
I didn’t like Ruby in the beginning. Don’t worry, I grew to love her, but I didn’t like her because she was too unsure of herself. I didn’t like how she was so helpless and weak, and I tried to understand that this was a little girl who had been taken away from her home to basically participate in child slavery, but I like my heroines strong. So when she punched Liam after he told her to drive for the first time, it was at that moment that I grew to like her.
I’m not bragging when I say I knew it was Clancy Gray. Authors don’t mention random people several times without there being an underlying reason. The first time he was mentioned, I brushed over it. The second time, however, I was like, “This kid is gonna show up and idk how but he will.” Turns out, handsome Clancy turns out to be the Slip Kid. What a shocker.
The thing I really liked about Bracken’s writing is that she stuck very close to what a real person’s inside voice would sound like. Sure, it was a little annoying and frustrating at times, but Ruby has her heart in the right place. Furthermore, I loved it when I realized that Ruby’s ‘thoughts’ were out of the ordinary. When she started thinking about how good-looking Clancy was and how he liked her more than just a friend, I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t Ruby. Snarky, rough-edged Ruby who loved Liam. I liked that Bracken wrote those random thoughts in because it made it more realistic to read in Ruby’s POV.
I loved Liam. He was dynamic and had more than just one side, though I have trouble finding a guy that nice. Seriously, he is the nicest person ever. He’s cautious, but he’s got a heart of gold. THE ENDING. OMG THE ENDING. Sorry, I had to put that there. We’ll get back to the ending in a while.
Lady Jane doesn’t die, right? She’ll be back. I just know it.
Chubs, in my opinion, was the most realistic kid I’d ever read about. I mean, he was taken from his probably wealthy upbringing and stuffed into a camp just because he could move things with his mind. The kid was hardened by prison. But again, heart of gold. I’m sensing a pattern here, Bracken.
Oh, little Zu. I honestly thought she was going to start talking at the most unexpected of times, but when she didn’t, I believed that maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe that would be her most constant trait. Her ability clearly freaks her out, and though it freaks her out less after spending time with Clancy’s brainwashed band of runaways, Suzume was another side of what bad circumstances do to people. She’s a strong girl. She’ll save the day in the next book, I’m sure of it.
Now, the ending. O-M-G. The plot unravels pretty steadily from beginning to end, but the last 50 pages were the most emotive parts of the entire book. When Chubs got out of that car to give the letter to Jack’s dad, I thought things were going to end up well. They still had Clancy to deal with, so it wasn’t like it wouldn’t be a cliffie anyway. And then, Chubs gets shot. Liam and Ruby do what they have to do to save him, but in the end, it’s not enough.
I forgot about the necklace until Ruby pressed her finger to it. There was a small part of me that wished it wasn’t actually a GPS tracker, that it would do nothing. Alas, our protagonists are taken away to the Children’s League. Oh, Ruby. She was so strong by the end of the novel, she knew exactly what she had to do, and she did it.
She wiped Liam’s memories with a kiss. I died at that point. I just froze and stopped feeling because I didn’t want to cry. He’s going to be so mad when he finds out, and he will find out. I refuse to think that Liam’s going to just forget about Chubs and Ruby forever. He’s going to remember them somehow, some way, and then he’s gonna find Zu and kick ass.
Suffice to say, I loved the ending. It wasn’t the most original of endings, but it was written well. Alexandra Bracken is a talented author, gifted with an incredible imagination. She doesn’t need to come up with crafty schemes in order to write a good book. She doesn’t need to use big words and sophisticated storytelling to get the message across.
So, I liked The Darkest Minds. You can bet that I’ll be reading the sequel, Never Fade, very soon. I have yet to check on the progress of the film, but the last time Alex posted about it, it was going great.
I hope you enjoyed the review, and don’t hesitate to comment below!