Book: The Darkest Minds, Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: December 18th, 2012
Rating: 5 stars
Oh this book. It made me feel a lot of feels. Love. Hatred. Sympathy. Sorrow. A shit ton of feelings that I found very hard to keep contained. It touched my soul and haunted my thoughts for days after reading it. The fact that I had already read a sadly only-eh dystopian novel only weeks before made me a little worried about reading this. But I'd seen so many reviews raving about this book, I knew I had to give it a chance; and now I can say that this book has rekindled my love of dystopian novels! Yay!
The characters are extremely vivid and well developed; and more than that: they are likable. I enjoyed every single character introduced in this book. Even the characters portrayed as the bad guys. They weren’t needy, or stupid, or stupidly naive; rather, the characters that were naive were smartly naive: it was their character to be that way. One character, Liam, wanted to see the good in people so much that his best friend described him as: “so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they're holding in their hand.” And that’s okay. Why? Because that’s the kind of character Liam is. It doesn’t make him unlikable or make you wanna bang your head against the wall for decisions he makes. In fact, making decisions based on Liam’s hope that someone has good inside, whether they’re stupid or naive decisions, is what makes Liam Liam. Making decisions otherwise would be disloyal to his character.
This book takes place in the future where many of America’s children have died from disease called IAAN. The ones who didn’t get this disease deemed to be psi (psychic) and possess supernatural abilities. However, unlike a comic book, these abilities don’t mean children become a younger version of The Avengers. Instead, adults fear the abilities the children possess and the president decides to take any children that have shown to have these abilities to a rehabilitation camp where he promised parents to “cure” children of these “horrible freakish” abilities. Of course, these camps are more like prisons – the children are trapped in cramped, horrible conditions, are forced to do manual work, aren’t allowed to talk to each other and are forced to take the guards’ shit without being able to put up a fight.
It’s horrible, gloomy, heartbreaking, and genius. It was so believable and I fell for the characters so much that I found it hard to read, mainly because it was so sad and I couldn’t stand to read about how such likable characters have to go through such hell.
The children are split up into different colours based on the strength of their abilities:
- Green and Blue – able to move objects with your mind
- Yellows – have the power to control electricity
- Reds and Oranges – mind power. The most powerful and most feared of the abilities.
Ruby is our 16 year old protagonist. She was brought into the camps when she was 10 years old. She’s an Orange but has little control of her abilities and fears what she is capable of doing. I loved her so much. She was so strong after everything she goes through in this novel – and her experiences just make her stronger. Everything about her past is revealed bit by bit throughout the book, instead of just straight out told in one long spiel, which I felt was brilliant as I feel it brings the readers closer to her character and doesn’t make it seem drawn out and boring. She pretends to be Green to avoid the terrible fate that awaits the ever-more-corrupted and feared Oranges, but there's never a time when she's not in danger and that somehow makes our time with her precious.
Now let’s get to the other characters. I’ve already spoken about Liam – our lovable and adorable love interest that proves that although protective bad-boys are excellent, sometimes the good-natured, polite types with a heart as big as his smile are just as excellent in some cases. He brings Ruby into his group of misfits along with his skinny best friend Chubs and a mute little girl called Suzume (nicknamed Zu).
Chubs starts out as the suspicious one who’s paranoid of this new girl whom they know nothing about, but he slowly lets his guard down and begins to realise what a good person Ruby is and eventually welcomes her into his circle. While Chubs started out as annoying, he quickly became one of those quirky characters that you put up with but can’t imagine your life without. And he proved to be one of the most loyal companions you could ever have.
Zu is a young girl who was so traumatised at the rehabilitation camps that she stopped talking and communicates through facial expressions and writing in a notepad. She craved some girly friends and loved having Ruby as a friend. I loved how everyone was super protective of her because she was so little but she eventually proved that she can hold her own and I loved and cheered her for it.
Go read this book. Right now. It’s extraordinary.