My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect. There are just so many dystopian books out there with similar themes. Some of them manage to make it work,The Hunger Games; others, like Shatter Me, not so much. But Alexandra Bracken does so much more in this book. There’s evil adults vs kids(my fave), dark and brutal and beautiful writing, interesting characters, mind powers and abilities that allow you to manipulate people and things, outburst of unknown disease which decimates most 90-something% kids of USA(effectively taking care of the population crisis :P), no one to trust- not even fellow kids, severe and ruthless government and their camps built to ‘rehab’ these super-kids, phenomenal world-building with only a few plot-holes.
In the future, the outbreak of an unknown disease, termed IAAN, decimates most between the age of eight and fourteen(god, I’m in danger as well). No one knows the cause, only effect. The kids who are still alive develop super-powers and stuff. Seeing them as a threat, the government initiates ‘rehab’ programs and camps. The kids are snatched away from their homes and entered into these camps, where they are segregated on the basis of their powers and he threats they pose into five color-coded groups:
Orange- manipulate minds
Red- control fire
Yellow- something to do with electricity
Blue- levitate and move things and beings
Green- good with math; highly intelligent with photographic memory
Our protagonist, Ruby, belongs to the first group- the one that the President is most afraid of and the one he’s hell-bent on removing from this plane of existence. But Ruby is a smart one; she disguises herself as a Green, until of course, her secret is rooted out and she’s in danger. Now she’s on the run, joining a bunch of rag-tag kids and looking for a new home. Which she finds at Est River, a camp of runaway kids, who have managed to make a living for themselves.
Let me first address the problems I had with the whole world-building.
I just cannot fathom that some parents(not all) would give away their children(not talking about Ruby’s), no matter how freakish and dangerous they become. They would riot and protest- they wouldn’t just sit back down and watch as their kids were carted to camps from hell. Okay they just might if they thought it’d best for their kids as the truth about the camps isn’t widely known- the President ensures that. But that’s another issue I’m not on board with. You can’t quash something like that- the harsh realities of the camps- for so long(six or so years) without even a sliver of the reality getting out. But to contradict that, there’s a Children’s League- a group of people who are seemingly on the kids’ side only on the surface because actually they’re pretty evil. Then it’s the problem I had with the PSF’s- they are the country’s largest governmental force, which insinuates that it must constitute of a rather large number of people, actually everyone between the ages of 23 and 40. Which is stupid because
(a)then it’d mean that most of the adults are cruel and sinister persons, something I just can’t stomach.
(b)if everyone’s employed by the govt, then who does other stuff that makes a country work, huh?
And from what I saw, not everyone of the aforementioned age group was a PSF.
Now that you’re all aware of the reading hazards, let’s take a look at the positives.
The writing, oh god, the writing is intrinsically beautiful. There was something natural in that- it never felt forced or even consciously-written.
We were realists. We knew we weren’t getting
out. Dreaming led to disappointment and disappointment to a
kind of depressed funk that wasn’t easy to shake. Better to stay
in the gray than get eaten by the dark.
The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.
We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.
The characters were no ole Jane Doe or John Smiths. Ruby’s personal development was impressive and corresponded to the events with the capability to change people, so it never felt like she was one person one second and another the next just out of the blue. There is no insta-love but even so, it’s pretty obvious from the entrance of the character of interest. But my favorite relationship was of Chubs and Ruby. They didn’t start off on the right foot but towards the end forged a quite strong bond. I can see those two going a long way. Also, unsurprisingly, Chubs was my favorite character.
But then stuff happens and a new kid is introduced who is similar to Cole from Everneath and that blond guy from Shatter Me. So this might hint of a love-triangle but not really so, because Ruby isn’t into him.
Oh and there’s another parallel that I can draw between also the other YA fiction and this one. You know, how always something happens or some consequence of her action forces her to do something to protect her beloved, which actually hurts her in the process and leads to a very frightening cliffhanger? And then the protagonist goes all
of the bad people and villains? Now while ti’s pretty kick-ass, it’s getting old.