On Ruby’s tenth birthday everything changed. She survived the strange disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control. So she was sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.”
Now sixteen, 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. But Ruby can’t risk getting close with them.
She thinks arriving at the East River will solve her problems, but it turns out the sanctuary is not what it seems. With so many people and groups in play and wanting to use her, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her chance at having a life worth living.
It took me a little while to get into this book. It started slow and I wasn’t really hooked until halfway through. That being said, once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down. Like I stayed up reading this way too late into the night and immediately picked up the next book Never Fade.
The Darkest Minds is a dystopian and the world Alexandra Bracken creates is just terrifying but so real and a possibility at the same time. Maybe this is me just over drawing because of current events, but some things are even so real because they seem a part of our actual history. For example, the kids who survived the disease and have powers are put into camps. The camps are horrible. Think labor, cruelty, punishment, death. They separate the kids by color based on their power.
I found the power system very interesting. Reds can control fire, Yellows control electricity, Oranges can control people’s minds, those three are considered the most dangerous. Then there are Blues who have telekinesis and Greens I believe are good at tech and puzzles.
I wasn’t sure about the whole IAAN thing though. It’s either the kids that died had this disease called IAAN and were dying because of it or the kids with powers had IAAN and that’s how they lived and got their powers. Really it might be my fault for not paying great attention when it came to those parts. Either way, it was interesting because just this age range of kids got the powers or died, but then the government’s and adult’s reactions to children are just horrible. Like they’re kids.
Speaking of the government, basically we’re in a (maybe not so distant) future really shitty America. We have no money, have sealed ourselves off, people don’t have homes or jobs, and these kids are in camps, and everyone is being lied to by the president, who’s talked his way into three terms in office—you’re only supposed to get max two. And did I mention the White House/Senate buildings were attacked and destroyed and California succeeded. I personally loved the way Bracken sets this up because it felt real, plausible, and she didn’t really create this whole new way future world. This is a short time from now, and really she creates and constructs the world and everything in it so vividly and strong.
Then there’s these two different groups, and I loved how it’s not this one massive rebellion. There’s The Slip Kid, who’s this mythical Psi kid—the name for a kid with powers—that basically runs a Psi community, and takes care oft he kids but also can reconnect you with your family. Then there’s The Children’s League, which is an underground resistance forced. I like how neither group is entirely what they seem.
Then you got Ruby our main character. Her history is truly devastating. She’s been at one of the worst camps for the past six years, was turned in when she was ten. That, plus there’s some pretty rough experiences she had with her family before camp and her best friend at camp. She tries to keep herself isolated, but she can’t help care about others. She’s really loyal and protective to those she cares about it. I really liked her and felt where she was coming from.
I also liked that she’s not totally this “special snowflake” “chosen one” heroine in regards to her power. Yes, they’re special, but it’s not like only one with powers or those specific ones.
Basically things happen and Ruby ends up meeting this group of three other Psi Kids. Zu is this little girl, she’s a Yellow and for some reason doesn’t talk. She stole my heart, she is adorable and so sweet.
Then there’s Chubs, a nickname of course. He’s a bit distrusting as well as nerdy, but overall he is a real softy and a good friend. I just loved how he cares about certain people. He’s not outright or obvious about it, he shows his love and concern in his own ways.
Rounding out the group is Liam, who has a slight hero complex. He has that whole enigmatic leader thing going for him as well. I liked him as a character and thought his interactions with and reactions to Ruby were great and genuine. But sometimes he just felt too perfect/complex-y to me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely continue on with this series. I loved the blending of dystopian words with magical/power type elements and Bracken did it so well here. You can find The Darkest Minds on Amazon and the author at alexandrabracken.com.