by Alexandra Bracken
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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.
Oh wow. What an ending. What a book. My feelings are still all over the place, so I’ll try to bring some order into all of this.
First of all, the thing I loved the most: the characters.
From the moment Ruby meets Liam, Zu and Chubs, I knew instantly that they would have a special place in my heart and I was right. I love all of them even more than I thought I would. The bickering, the jokes, the way they are there for each other, the loyalty underneath it all and just the way Alexandra Bracken makes them come alive through the pages – I couldn’t stop reading because it was all so amazingly beautiful. I adored being on the journey with them so much and will forever love them.
“…crackers…” a voice breathed out behind us, “yesss…”
Both of us turned, watching as Chubs twisted around in his seat and settled back down, still fast asleep.
I pressed a hand over my mouth to keep from laughing. Liam rolled his eyes, smiling.
“He dreams about food,” he said. “A lot.”
“At least they’re good dreams.”
In a way, Chubs is actually my favorite of the group. He is just so damn entertaining and lovable. And, I mean c’mon, his love for food is awesome.
In the beginning he’s not all that welcoming towards Ruby, but the reason behind that becomes clear quickly and when he slowly warms up to her it was all the more special. I especially loved his fierce loyalty that always shone through, even when he was being grumpy or fighting with Liam – which they did a lot.
Ruby is an amazing heroine. I really felt for her and always understood her decisions, although I still want to hit her for what she did in the end. There wasn’t a moment when she annoyed me or did something that I couldn’t comprehend. And most importantly, Ruby is very mature for her age, which makes sense, considering where she spent a huge part of her childhood. That place didn’t take her ability to love and care though. She cares for the others fiercely which becomes obvious in many scenes. My favorite is the one where she makes Zuzume feel better about herself and shows so much patience.
I twisted around so that I was facing her, because I wanted her to see my face – I wanted her to see how serious, how sincerely I meant it when I repeated myself. “You are incredible.”
Another thing I really appreciated is that Ruby both saves and gets saved throughout the book. She is never, at no time, completely helpless, but also not invincible or incapable of accepting the help of others.
I also loved those moments when her dry humor shines through a little. For me, it shows that despite what life threw at her, despite what she had to go through, she still relished the good things and possesses the ability to move on.
That had to have been the fakest attempt at optimism since my fourth grade teacher tried reasoning that we were better off without the dead kids in our class because it’d mean more turns on the playground swings for the rest of us.
Liam… I don’t think there are good enough words to describe how much I love that guy, but I’ll give it a try anyway. I think what I love most about Liam is his good-naturedness, his never failing hope for a better future and his willingness to help others, always. But although he is this humorous, charming, open-minded guy, he doubts himself and the things he’s done, the decisions he’s made. He’s both strong and vulnerable and.. and just an amazing character. His constant optimism and good mood made me smile and the way he never, ever judged Ruby made my heart hurt in the best way ever. His friendship with Chubs, his love for Ruby and his almost father-like relationship with Zu.. it was so beautiful to read, all of it. Oh, and his love for Betty, of course.
“So, naturally, the next choice was a minivan.”
“Yep, she called to me from the parking lot of abandoned cars. The sun was shining though her windows like a beacon of hope.”
Chubs groaned. “Why are you so weird?”
“Because my weird has to be able to cancel out your weird, Lady Cross-stitch.”
“At least what I do is considered an art form,” Chubs said.
“Yes, in ye olde medieval Europe you would’ve been quite the catch-“
While the plot isn’t all that fast-paced, it was definitely interesting enough to keep me hooked at all times. Especially the first 100 pages are very slow-paced and mostly include a lot of world building which lets the reader adjust to the new world easily. That, and because of the fact that I was warned of this in advance made it easy for me not to become too impatient for the real action to start. And when it finally does, there was no holding back my love. I immensely enjoyed being along for the journey with those awesome characters and couldn’t get enough of it. It was just so much fun.
The world building is pretty amazing as well. I love the idea of the disease that changed so many of the children, of what they could do and the way the government reacted. I would love to go into more detail, but I’d like to avoid spoiling you anymore in case you haven’t read this yet. Just know, that if you haven’t, you definitely should! The Darkest Minds is hands down one of the best dystopians out there and you’re seriously missing out if you don’t give it a try.
Highly recommended. <3
|Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
The Darkest Minds #1
Never Fade #2
In the Afterlight #3
Through the Dark #1.5, 2.5 & 3.5
Jen (Sparks Rise #2.5)