"The Darkest Minds" by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review
It's been a while since I've picked up a YA dystopian series, and this book was definitely a spur-of-the-moment decision. The premise of The Darkest Minds appealed to me very much—superpowers and special abilities are definitely having a moment in my reading life, but I have to say, this is one of the best YA dystopian novels I've read so far. Let me tell you all about it (no spoilers).
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Page Count: 488
First Published: December 18, 2012
The book takes place in the US, after the country has been devastated by an epidemic. A mysterious disease has killed off most kids, but those who survived have developed special powers. As you can imagine, the government doesn't need a bunch of kids with superpowers running around, so they are taken from their homes into what essentially are concentration camps. The official word is that the kids are getting rehabilitated, but in reality they are viewed as freaks and there is no "cure". Our protagonist is Ruby, who is taken at the age of 10, and has spent 6 years in one of these camps.
Something that really sparked my interest about The Darkest Minds is how the powers are treated: the kids and teens are classified in colors—green, blue, yellow, orange, and red, each representing the type of power they have. Because the story is told from Ruby's point of view, we don't really get a clear explanation of what these mean right away—we have to figure it out along with Ruby. What's also interesting is that the same type of power doesn't necessarily work the same way with every person who possesses it.
There is A LOT of action in this book: the events just keep coming, and there is generally a lot of tension. The only thing I wished for was more when it came to the discussion about government and society. There was a lot of potential there, and when the author did touch on those subjects it was definitely thought-provoking. As for the characters, almost everyone grew on me. I also thought the relationships and attitudes were realistic—at least that's how I imagine things would work out. At some points it can be easy to dismiss Ruby as naive or annoying, but it's important to remember that she didn't grow up in a normal environment—as someone who has been in a camp since 10, she wouldn't exactly be your normal and reasonable 16-year-old.
The only reason I didn't absolutely love the The Darkest Minds is that the middle part felt a little flat to me. I loved the first third of the book, as well as the last third. I think the pacing was very consistent throughout the book, but I thought the events in the middle just couldn't compare to everything that happened at the beginning and the end. That being said, the middle was still very solid and action-packed.
Have you read The Darkest Minds? Who are your favorite characters?
UPDATE: If you are thinking about getting into The Darkest Minds trilogy or you've already read it and want to talk about it, you should check out my review of the entire series in the video below!