Title: The Darkest Minds

Series: The Darkest Minds, Book 1

Author: Alexandra Bracken ♥ @alexbracken

Published: December 18, 2012

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 488

Source: purchased

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

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who 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 a life worth living.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 10/10/2013): 4.30

  • Christina thought this title was action-packed and full of amazing characters! It goes on her top shelf!

                           –quoted from pg. 8 of The Darkest Minds

♣ Initial Thoughts and Actual Rating: Actual rating of 4.5 stars! Holy whoa! HOLY. WHOA! I’d never call that a cliffhanger ending, but I am so happy that I have the next installment to read on hand. This novel has everything a reader could want– imaginative, action-packed plotting and pacing, vivid characters, and exceptional world-building and attention to detail. Alexandra Bracken has created a whole new world, and I can’t decide whether I want to be right in the heart of the story or praying that I never have to see a world like this at all. She had me wholly invested from page one.

♣ The Lowdown: The United States as you know it now has ceased to be. A devastating illness has rocked the nation, taking a whole generation of children and either killing them in an instant around their tenth birthdays or changing them forever. You see, if your child happens to merely escape death because of IAAN, it doesn’t mean they really escaped at all. For those kids lucky enough to survive, they’re minds have been altered and they’ve developed inexplicable abilities. It doesn’t take long before parents and all those that missed the age gap to grow fearful of the ones who are left behind. A new group of special forces is created by the government and is tasked with taking these kids to “rehabilitation” camps and sorting them into groups for their abilities. GREENS are considered the least dangerous and only have an increased mental aptitude,  best used for solving problems and puzzles. BLUES have telekinetic abilities. YELLOWS are able to manipulate electricity, which works particularly well when dealing with all electronics. ORANGES are reasoned to be more dangerous because they’re able to control minds through touch or voice command. Lastly, REDS have a fondness for creating fire which they can conjure instantaneously with little more than the will of their mind and at the snap of a finger.

Our heroine, Ruby, wakes up feeling unwell on her tenth birthday to parents that can’t remember her at all. She’s picked up by PSF (Psi Special Forces) agents and shipped to a camp with a whole host of other kids, utterly afraid and unsure of what’s happening to her body and now her life. She’s sorted as a GREEN and stays behind the walls of this camp which houses thousands of other special kids, all while living underneath the nose of the vilest people ever in the most horrid conditions imaginable for six years. But Ruby has a secret, one she’s desperate to keep to herself no matter what, especially now that all the ORANGES and REDS have disappeared from camp. To ensure her safety, she has to keep her head down and her mouth closed, obeying orders and flying below the radar.

However, not every adult is thrilled with how the government handled the disposal of these children and know the secret of what’s really happening behind the walls of these supposed “rehabilitation” centers. Ruby is rescued by an anti-government group known as The Children’s League, but knows that ultimately the only person she can ever really trust is herself. She sets out to roam freely and soon encounters a band of Psi kids just like her. They’re on a search for East River, a supposed promise land to hide from the government and live among other Psi kids like themselves. But even this journey has perils awaiting at every corner and Ruby has to rely on these other teens and her abilities more than she would like.

Even if they do finally find this East River, is it really a beloved oasis after all? Nothing in this dystopian setting is as straightforward and as easy as it seems.

♣ My Thoughts: Alexandra Bracken knows how to pack a punch. To me, the best sign of a great writer is when an author can take an unlikely concept and have you convinced by the end that such a world is plausible. A United States crippled and cut away from the rest of the world by an illness that destroys families by either killing the kid or giving them Psi abilities? Psssh, no way, right? Wrong. By the end, I was completely cocooned by the idea of this novel and the thickness of emotion that envelops each page that I couldn’t put my mind to rest because it was too busy imagining what it would be like to live in a world like this. Each page is filled to the brim with a sinister, dangerous setting, a fast-paced plot that will have your heart thundering in your chest, and your mind will be whirling from one possible outcome to the next (Hint: You’ll still be wrong.). Yet, one thing is certain, you’ll never want the book to end. It truly is a testament to what an amazing writer Ms. Bracken is because of her ability to keep you hostage in this world she’s created long after you’ve finished the last page. I was held prisoner by this book, and my only thought at the end was that I wanted more… and I wanted it immediately.

From the very beginning, I knew that this was going to be a heroine that I would love. I was captivated by this desolate tale of one girl’s journey to save herself. Ruby’s personal struggles to adjust to her new life were nothing short of awe-inspiring. You truly live inside her mind and ride her tidal wave of emotions as she learns to connect to people, access her abilities, and cope with her her past while trying to survive in the present and remained focus. Her character growth was phenomenal and I just wanted to hug her when her despair seemed to great to shoulder on her own and cheer for her when she triumphed time and time again. By the end, she is one badass chick, though you can tell she still has so much more growth to experience in the other books.

I can’t possibly end my thoughts without talking about Ruby’s partners in crime while they searched for East River. There’s Liam “Lee” Stewart who’s a BLUE and so sweet and swoony, ever the optimist and determined leader.  Charles “Chubs” Carrington Meriwether IV who is stubborn, snarky, and fiercely loyal. He’s quirky with a side of super awesome because he’s basically brilliant and he cross-stitches– but only because it helps him with medical stitching– and has a love for cute, fuzzy animals. Last, but certainly not least, is our young Zu. She’s a yellow and mute (by choice). Surprisingly, Bracken manages to give her a vibrant personality though she never makes a peep, only converses with pointed looks and pencil on paper. I grew to love and respect these characters so much more than I would have ever imagined.

 Swoons: They’re subtle, but undeniably sweet. They’re in the unnoticed side glances, gentle caresses, and whispered words spread throughout the book.

 Swoons Teaser:

“We’ll be okay,” Liam said. “We just can’t let them separate us.”

     “They won’t,” I whispered. “I was thinking . . . I know this is going to sound so corny, but . . . if there’s one good thing that came out of all of this, it was that I got to meet you. I would go through it all again–” Tears pricked my eyes. “I would, as long as it meant I’d met you.”

     “You really think that?” Liam sat up and pressed his lips against my hair. “‘Cause, frankly, the way I see it, you and me? Inevitable. Let’s say we didn’t get stuck in all those god-awful camps– no, just listen. I’m going to tell you the amazing story of us.”

 Rec it? Abso-freeeeeeeaking-lutely. I’ve been on a bit of a personal ban for starting incomplete series lately (Because I cannot stand the long wait in-between releases. I’m not a patient person in the slightest.), but I’m so thrilled I relented in this case because this was a commanding start to a new series. Bracken has taken the ever-popular dystopian novel and amped it up with sci-fi elements that will keep you riveted the entire length of the novel. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever known a 488 page novel that seemed to be over in the blink of an eye like this one did.

Worth noting (or repeating in the event that you didn’t skip the first section), I’d like to say that even though I can’t necessarily call the ending “cliffhanger-y,” it was definitely a type of ending that will have you D.Y.I.N.G. for the next installment. Luckily for me, I had Never Fade on hand and now I’m about to dive in. I’m telling you, The Darkest Minds  is a novel that you want to start because the second installment will be published on Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

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