Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
By Alexandra Bracken
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Panic breaks out when a disease that strikes children either kills them or gives them special abilities. Those in the latter group are feared by adults and placed in so-called rehabilitation camps where they are treated with unimaginable cruelty. Ruby hasn’t seen the outside of a camp since she was ten, and now, six years later, she may finally get a chance at freedom. Her rescuers, however, have their own reasons for taking Ruby away from Thurmond, and they don’t necessarily put her best interests first. Ruby is quick to realize that she’s still in danger and must escape. That escape comes along in the form of some other kids who’ve managed to break out of their camp. Despite gradually gaining acceptance among them, Ruby fears that they’ll discover the terrible nature of her power and what she’s capable of doing.

Review: It seems that dystopians and I have finally reached a truce, at least for now. The Darkest Minds is one of the best dystopian novels I’ve read. Ever. Everything is brilliant: the world-building, the characters, the pacing. Let me not forget the writing—it’s spectacular. I’ve been laboring over this review for days now because I want to write about all the reasons why I loved this book all at once. Let the flood of gushing commence!

I was mesmerized by The Darkest Minds from the moment Ruby began recounting how she came to be at Thurmond, a horrifying camp for kids with special powers. Ruby can erase memories, an ability that she’s desperate to keep secret lest she be properly classified as Orange, only one level below Red, which designates the kids with the most dangerous abilities. This world is utterly chilling; it’s the kind of chill that takes root in your bones and won’t dissipate easily. The unimaginable, brutal conditions in the camps are nothing short of abhorrent. On top of that, the government tells the parents of the kids who are basically imprisoned there that their children are being “rehabilitated.” No pun intended, but this is one of the darkest dystopian settings I’ve come across in a YA novel, and it makes for absolutely compelling reading.

The Darkest Minds is a pretty lengthy novel, but lulls in the action are never an issue. In fact, I was extremely impressed with the pacing. This is the type of book that doesn’t have a good place to put it down for the night; you want to forego sleep to keep reading. I can’t think of a single thing that could have been edited out, either. That’s when you know that you’re reading a very special book.

In a novel where every aspect is outstanding, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but I’m going with the chemistry between the core group of characters: Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Suzume. Each possesses such a unique personality; I especially loved Liam’s easy charm and Chubs’s fondness for all things academic. Ruby is the newcomer to the quartet, the other three having escaped from a different camp and running together ever since, and it’s touching to watch Ruby slowly become a part of their little family. There’s also some really funny banter between Liam and Chubs, courtesy of Alexandra Bracken’s crackling dialogue. These characters will warm your heart one minute and break it in the next with everything they’ve collectively been through and continue to go through. Don’t be surprised if you’re a little bit shattered by the time you’re done reading the book.

If you’re looking for perfection in a dystopian, this is it. The Darkest Minds will have you feeling just about every emotion there is, and you’ll be signing up for the sequel, Never Fade, by the end of it. Oh, believe me—you’ll be clamoring to know what happens next.

All in All: The Darkest Minds is a must-read. Period.


  1. I loved this book! I was so surprised by how absorbed I was by it and I agree, no lags or lulls. It is brilliantly written.

    1. I'm always a little skeptical of big books and wonder how the author is going to keep the story moving across all those pages, but there was zero need to worry about that here. I was just blown away by how perfectly plotted and paced this book was.

  2. I'm so glad you loved this book! I agree it's one of the best dystopian books I've read in a long while - the pace was relentless and the characters were all fantastic! Great review!

    1. This is easily one of my favorite dystopian novels. The intensity that's there from the first page to the last is absolutely amazing. I'm happy to hear that you loved the book, too!

  3. I love, love, love your enthusiasm and praise for this one Lee! I'll admit that I've had this one on my tbr shelf since it first came out but reading how you described the plot, dialogue and characters will definitely make me bump it up on my list! It sounds like the kind of book that consumes your entire being and doesn't let go till long after you've finished reading - and I need to get me some of that! Those are the best kinds of reads anyways ;-) Thanks for the wonderful review and I'm thrilled you fell in love with this one so completely!!

    1. Ally had been bugging me to read this for months, and I'm so, so glad I finally gave in and read it! I actually found myself missing the book whenever I wasn't reading it; that's how addicted I was, lol. It was an all-consuming read, and I hope you think so, too!

  4. The best dystopian, I will keep this in mind. I'm a follower when it comes to this genre, I go with what's popular because I'm not a big post apocalypse/ futuristic reader regardless of the theme. So I go with the masses, that way I know what I'm reading is fairly good and something I will at least enjoy.

    Lovely review as always, Lee, my sister in a parallel universe

    1. Aww, thank you sis! I think you'd really enjoy this one; it has nonstop action, a deep story, and wonderfully written characters. The genre has let me down in the past, but this book was exceptional.


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