Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Published by Disney Hyperion
Published on: December 18 2012
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
I had serious misgivings about reading The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.
I started reading Brightly Woven (Bracken’s YA Fantasy stand-alone) a few years ago, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t mark it as DNF b/c I wasn’t totally writing it off. I was just putting it aside for later. WAY later. So when people started talking about The Darkest Minds last year, I didn’t pay much attention.
Then one of my favorite writers reviewed it as THEBESTBOOKEVEROMG!! So I bought it when it came out. And it sat on a shelf for a year.
Then a bunch of bloggers started reviewing it. A year later. And they’re all THEBESTBOOKEVEROMG!! So I just had to jump on that bandwagon to see what I’d been missing.
*throws book at wall*
The Darkest Minds is about a generation of youth who are born with superhero-like abilities. The additional abilities are jump-started at the onset of puberty. The kids who don’t die when their brains basically EXPLODE, are bused to government camps where they are “rehabilitated.” There are five divisions of abilities:
Green: super smarts
Yellow: manipulation of electricity
Orange: mind control
Red: fire starters
Greens and Blues are safe, Yellows are in the middle, and Oranges and Reds are frickin’ dangerous. Ruby (our MC) is an Orange, but she gets placed with the Greens (which is good b/c Big Brother starts killing off Oranges when they can’t be “rehabilitated”). If you’re wondering why I keep putting “rehabilitated” in quotations, it’s b/c I still don’t know what it’s supposed to mean. Lots of things are alluded to in reference to the camps and what happens there: scientific experiments (electro-shock therapy style), isolation, sensory deprivation, rape-as-punishment by the a**hole guards, but all of those things are in reference to studying/exploitation, not “curing” an “illness.”
And I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes when I start reading a book, I immediately have issues with it. In The Darkest Minds, my first issue was that there is a line that you can point to (like B.C. and B.C.E.) and on one side you have normal kids, and on the other side you have mutant freaks. Every single kid. BUT . . . wait for it . . . only AMERICAN kids.
Because last time I checked, Americans (myself included) were a bunch of mutts. The fact that I know I’m 25% Lithuanian is HUGE. Hardly anyone is a full quarter of anything in America. My other 75% is half a dozen different nationalities THAT I KNOW OF. If it were kids of Western European descent or Eastern European or Asian, etc. I could maybe buy into the whole idea (but it would still be hard b/c these things happen over time, NOT immediately), but it’s not. It’s just Americans.
Willful Suspension of Disbelief only works if the subject is remotely believable.
So that was a huge problem for me. Almost as big as the previously mentioned rape-as-punishment allusion. Not cool ever. REALLY not cool in a YA book. A girl covers for her friend and mouths off to the guards which results in the girl getting gang-raped for two days.
*retrieves book to throw it at wall again*
And then there’s the triangle. The only reason I picked up on the “interest” between Ruby and Boy1 was b/c all of a sudden someone’s staring at someone else’s lips. But that wasn’t terrible. I liked Boy1 and once I knew what was going on, I was cool with it. But then there’s Boy2, and you would have to be an absolute idiot to not immediately know that Boy2 is the BAD GUY.
But somehow there were enough twists and turns to keep me reading. Up until the point where I was 50 pages away from finishing the nearly 500 page book, anyway, and then I just kept going b/c I’m STUBBORN.
And I really wish I hadn’t. I really wish I had quit b/c those last 50 pages made it impossible for me not the read the next book. Sigh . . .
HOWEVER, all of this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will also hate it. I wasn’t crazy about The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey either, so I would suggest that if you liked Yancey’s book, you’ll probably like this one (to me, both books had a similar overall feel). My biggest objection was only alluded to, and very briefly at that. And maybe there’s a perfectly rational explanation for why only American kids mutate and I’m to obtuse to see it. It wouldn’t be the first time. So if SciFi/Dystopians are your thing, give it a shot. But if they aren’t . . .