Review: The Darkest Minds-Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds


young adult, fantasy




"That girl was gone forever, and all that was left was a product of the place that had taught her to fear the bright things inside of her heart."

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.




I've had this book on my shelf for a few years now. I hadn't wanted to read it, it was a cover buy through and through (I know, but please limit rock throwing). I had read Passenger by Alexandra Bracken first, and though I finished it, the book wasn't up to the standards that everyone gave it. For me, anyways. So following that disaster, I wasn't sure if I'd like The Darkest Minds. 

I decided to join in on a readathon-pretty last minute as well-called the 24IN48. Where you read 24 hours in that 48 hour timespan. Well, I chose this book, not really knowing that I'd actually read it and it would bring me out of a couple month long book slump!


The Good:

Surprisingly, I loved this book. I haven't read a good young adult fantasy in years, and this one really hit the spot. I love Ruby. I think she grows from being a child of imprisonment to a strong young woman whose had a tough go at life because she has "powers." I loved reading her character development, as it rapidly grows during the course of the book. I felt for her in so many places, like the confusion of suddenly being around boys, or finding herself filled with doubts. It's things we relate to (kind of) and I grew to feel connected with her, something that can be difficult given the fantasy/dystopian type setting. 

One of the parts of this story is how children died from a disease and others lived on but had "powers" and many were afraid of them. Some had the ability to light things on fire with their minds, and were deemed dangerous and were killed. I find this interesting and different, especially as it's fantasy and everything seems to have been done twice over. 

The disease is called IAAN, or Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. I'm not sure why, but I think it's a cool name. 

The friendship Ruby gains from this book is amazing. I fell in love with this side characters and some parts tore me completely apart and others made me believe that everything would be okay in the end. Okay?


Liam. As I kept reading his character and see his words, I grew closer to him. I love Liam so much. He keeps up this funny persona and keeps everyone calm despite the mortal danger they're constantly in. Yet at some points, he stands up and become serious to protect his friends. And he's not the typical YA hero/love interest. They're always talked about how hot they are or they're moody and mean to the MC in the beginning. Liam is so nice! He's respected Ruby from the beginning and tried to keep her with the group. And when he started to develop feelings for Ruby, I swooned. 

"Did you know ... you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forgot to breathe?"

Ruby and Zu. I don't know a lot about Zu and her past, and I'm hoping we'll see more of her and her past in the coming books. But I adore these two. Zu is like eleven or so years old, and Ruby comes in and starts to feel like the older sister. There's one scene in particular that I really cherish and its when they're at a Walmart and Zu finds a pretty dress. Ruby demands that she try it on, and from there they play with makeup and try on shoes and do each others hair. These are things that have been taken from their grasp because they've been put into what's the equivalent of a jail. It just struck me and I felt so bad for them but happy that they got to experience this. 

Liam and Chubs. These two together are perfect. They're funny and though they can banter with each other and have different ways of doing stuff, they're close and you can feel the love between them. 

"Use the damn map," Chubs groused behind him.
"I can figure it out without it," Liam insisted. He kept swiveling his head back and forth, like he expected someone to appear and guide him in the right direction with road flares and fanfare.
Five minutes later, the map was spread over the steering wheel, and Chubs was gloating in the backseat.

"It feels like we should do something," he said. "Like, send her off on a barge out to sea and set her on fire. Let her go in a blaze of glory."

Chubs raised an eyebrow. "Its a minivan, not a viking."


The Bad:

This isn't considered "bad" really, it's just something I don't like because of the choices Ruby has to think about or do. Her power is to basically read someones thoughts and feelings. But going too deep can cause that person to forget Ruby entirely. Ouch.

I want some more info on this IAAN disease and these camps they put kids with powers in. 

It tended to slow down in some parts, and got boring and went on for too long in some scenes. I wish it was a little more exciting at some parts, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. 

We lose someone towards the end of the book. It hurts. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I don't like that it happened. 

Also, Ruby has a tough choice to make and I hate it. 


If you're into fantasy stories with great devlopment, growing characters with a bit of love and friendship, you've gotta read this one.