Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Published: December 18th 2012
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

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.

With dystopians becoming sort of a joke around blogosphere, this book has managed something that very few accomplish—raving reviews and fans everywhere you turn. I was hesitant, to say the least. I was all: “Why did I purchase The Darkest Minds and pre-order the sequel on top of that? Dystopians seem to be not my thing lately.. Why did I follow the hype yet again? It’s going to be bad, I know it.” Fortunately, I had to eat my words, because this book was anything but bad.

“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

Let’s start with the characters. We get to know Ruby—the protagonist—in a pretty intimate way before we jump into big action scenes and get to know her companions for the rest of the book. With dystopians, we usually have main characters who are strong, independent, selfless and pretty kick-a from the start. While Ruby became all of these, she wasn’t heroine-material throughout the first 100 pages and even after that. She was scared to great lengths and who wouldn’t?! The world she lives in is absolutely crazy. We watch her go through immense character growth though and it made me believe in her abilities to become the heart of the story and perhaps even pull off a revolution of sorts.

My favorite  character by far was Zu. Oh, gawd. This little girl with the cutest personality was so humbling and adorable to watch. While Chubs and Liam were great and brought smile after smile on my face, Zu was the real ray of sunshine in this story. The scenes where Zu and Ruby were sharing the stage were really cute to read and I will remember their shopping spree for quite a while. The last thing Zu said wrote to Ruby still haunts my mind and I hope that we will get to the bottom of it soon.

Good news to insta-love haters—no insta-love in sight whatsoever. The relationship between Ruby and her love interest is the very definition of slow-build and had me dying of swoon by the end of the book and, of course, sharing crocodile tears for obvious reasons. *tries not to sob*

The dialogue is written very well and brings fits of giggles and big smiles to this otherwise quite dark tale. With dystopians, we often see books follow this sort of unwritten guideline. While I can’t say that The Darkest Minds didn’t have dystopian characteristics, it was most definitely an original, creative and unique world with a character-driven plot. Not only does Ruby evolve from a scared little duck to a beautiful, brave and strong swan so to speak, we also get to see progress in the secondary characters and it was probably one of my favorite aspects of this book. I also loved the aspect of super powers. BIIIIIIIG superheroes fan here so yes, me approves!

Perhaps I wasn’t as invested in Ruby’s emotional state as I could have been at the beginning. I didn’t cry nor get teary-eyed, but there wasn’t much of a chance either. The first quarter of the book excluded, the rest of it was packed with fast-paced plot and didn’t really slow down with building the world and the characters. While I wasn’t taken aback by all of the revelations, I did find myself turning page after page, eager to find out more.

All in all, I’ll say what almost every other person has been saying since this book came out: READ THIS. I don’t regret for a second that I purchased The Darkest Minds and Never Fade in hardcover and get to read them time and time again. I have marked so many places that made me either swoon, laugh or think. This is most certainly a book, and author, not to be missed and I’m eagerly anticipating what’s next to come.

Overall rating: 4.4 out of 5.0 
Stars: ★★★★

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  1. OMG, I got an ARC of this last summer at ALA but haven't read it yet. I always thought this was fantasy. Anyway, I've heard really good things about this and the audiobook so I think I'm gonna go with the audiobook route. Yay for no insta-love! I'm going through my 2013 YA arc's right now so I'm excited to read this one after reading your review.

  2. YES. Liam <33 I agree with a lot of what you said and Zu! Damn she's just too cute.

  3. This book is HUGE on youtube book channels. I am glad you liked it. I have to buy it soon.

  4. Now WHY didn't I purchase this one when it was on pre-order. I'm such an idiot sometimes. Anyhow I'm so glad you enjoyed this one and the story sounds really amazing. But I have to say that characters like Ruby really appeal to me. I do love kick-ass characters but not when they turn them into machines (I'm complicated I know) but when they still have that does of vulnerability. Great review, girl ;))

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Siiri. I have book 2 as well, but I haven't read it yet because the book is so LONG!! Do you want to read it together? :D Let me know. It would be fun to have someone to read it with.
    I adored every single character in this book and it was really heart-breaking at times. I'm super anxious about the sequel because of the way things ended in this one.
    And yeah, it's one of those dystopians that's really good unlike some others (you know what exactly I'm talking about) and yay for no insta-love!
    Lovely review, Siiri!

  6. YAY SIIRI! I'm really glad you gave this one a try despite the fact that a lot of readers are getting tired of the dystopian genre. I don't remember too much about it other than I enjoyed it overall (and Zu, I do remember her!), so I'm happy to see you did as well. I'll definitely have to reread these before the third book comes out because I've forgotten so much, but I loved that there was no insta-love like you said. WOO HOO! Looking forward to your thoughts on Never Fade!

  7. I enjoyed this one as well, she was a strong main character. unfortunately sequel isn't quite as good, but still will be continuing

  8. I've been wanting to give this book a try for quite a while not :) I've heard so many great things about it!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  9. oh my gosh I totally loved this book, I loved how unique it was and some of it surprised me but I totally devoured it in a few days!

  10. Yet another series I've heard great things about, and haven't even considered. I'm glad the characters, romance, and writing all worked for you. Great review, Siiri!

  11. No matter if dystopian is sort of out of fashion if it is "an original, creative and unique world with a character-driven plot" than any book lover would love it. Wonderful review, Siiri. It's nice to find these gems hiding away. :)

  12. I am very hesitant about dystopians lately, but I have heard a lot of praise about this story, and I'm happy to hear that you are among the group. I like that the heroine undergoes a lot of growth and the romance is slow burn. I think I'm going to wait until this full series releases, but assuming all goes well, I'd like to read it eventually.

  13. I absolutely love this series! Can't wait for In the After :)