Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publish Date: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Source: ARC from BEA
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.
Oh. My. Word.
You guys, do not even TRY to hold me down while I fangirl flail over The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. It’s a little dystopia, a little sci-fi/paranormal, and I was feeling very “meh” about anything even RESEMBLING the dystopian genre, but WHOOSH, Alexandra Bracken whisked my doubts away.
Ruby lives in a world where the kids who are still alive are regarded by society with fear– they’re Psis, or people with psychic abilities, and the government hates them so much that for the past six years, Ruby’s been locked up in a “rehabilitation camp.”
There were small notes of the novel that reminded me chillingly of the Holocaust. Psis, for example, are forced to wear a Psi symbol and a color that denotes which type of Psi that they are. They’re in these awful camps, where experiments used to be performed. It’s awful. The world that Alexandra Bracken created in The Darkest Minds is desolate and depressing. But that makes me that much more sympathetic to Ruby’s plight.
When she gets out of her camp, Thurmond, I bonded with Ruby even more. Because God, she is just so, so scared of the world around her and she has every reason to be. There’s no one to protect her, and if she gets caught, it’s probably a death sentence. With the powers and the way that society regards them, the Psis reminded me a little of the mutants of X-men, but Ruby doesn’t exactly have a Professor Xavier to guide her on her way. In fact, almost no one can really be trusted. But, thankfully she runs into other Psis on the run.
And as Ruby emerges from her shell bit by bit, she and her companions (who slowly earn that trust) become some of my favorite characters in recent memory.
They call a van named Black Betty home, and they are all so different from each other, but have managed to form this pseudo-family regardless. There’s Zu or Suzume, the adorable child (who, by the way, I was terrified the whole book was going to go the route of Rue), who manages to be a fully developed character though she doesn’t speak a single word. Chubs, who is extremely cautious and wary to outsiders, to the point where he comes off antisocial and asshole-ish. He likes books and learning (and book blogging!) and takes a while to warm up to, but then becomes an incredible friend. I related to Chubs EXTREMELY well.
But Liam… he needs a paragraph all his own. Hello, Swoontown USA. With his non-condescending “darlin’s,” and a bit of a hero complex, Liam is just WONDERFUL. He’s funny and stays good and upbeat through most of the novel, which is believable because we get to see the cracks in his molding here and there. And his relationship with Ruby is just… GUH. There is so much SLOW BURN. We see initial attraction, but neither of them jump straight to “GIRL/BOY, I wanna have your babies.” There’s the build-up. From strangers to friends, from friends to more-than-friends, and from more-than-friends to…
To the ending, which left me reeling and screaming.
Look, I don’t want to spoil this book for you, so that’s going to have to be all I say about the ending. Please read this book. Please?
To sum up: Read it. Please please please read it.
Need a second opinion?
”Haunting. Bleak. Devastating.” – Poetry to Prose
“The writing in Darkest Minds is absolutely breath-taking. Bracken has an elegant and poetic way of molding words into extraordinary pictures.” – Literary Exploration