Book Review of The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Posted November 23, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 29 Comments

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Release Date: December 18th, 2012
Pages: 496
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Source: I received a physical arc from another blogger.

Blurb: When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has 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.

Review: Before we get started, you should know I thought The Darkest Minds was a standalone. It is not. So if you are not wanting to start another series yet, do not start this book. Because once you start, you will not be able to stop. This is one hell of a suspenseful novel. It’s a page turner. Even when nothing major is happening, I always felt very uncomfortable, like that next second action was right around the corner. I was always waiting for the next shoe to drop. It’s a very unsettling feeling, but one that works incredibly well in dystopian novels. When the suspense is believable, when you truly feel the characters plight and the tension, that is when you know a book is successful. This is one of the many reasons why I totally recommend this novel. But first, you should know what it is about.

The book opens with a bang. Ruby is in a camp for kids and the White Noise goes off. The reader has no idea what this is, and all we know is that Ruby is hurt. The novel jumps back and forth a little as we learn just exactly what is going on in this post-apocalyptic world. But never too much. The major answers always remain just out of reach. Kids are dying. But not all the kids. And she is sent to a camp with the other survivors. At the high security camps, the kids are treated like criminals. They are called rehabilitation camps but there is no rehabilitating going on. Because what these kids are dealing with cannot be cured. Eventually Ruby breaks out of Thurmond, and then, as her questions begin to be answered one by one, she finds herself on the run with other kids like herself. And they all have powers that are very different.

Okay, so this is where I tell you that I did not like Ruby very much. She had zero confidence and I got truly tired of hearing her talk about being a monster, having a big secret, and wondering how everyone would judge her if they really knew the truth. And the secret that she was hiding was not all that big, to be honest. I don’t know what her issue was. She was always making it out to be worse than it really was and she kept REPEATING it over and OVER and I just got tired of hearing about it. When her secret finally came out, no one gave a shit so it was all for nothing. I said in my updates if this happened I would be pissed off. And I was pissed off because it was stupid and ridiculous. Not only that, but she had a tendency to be helpless and she made a few bad decisions. I got very angry at her a couple of times and I can’t talk about that because spoilers, but let me just say I was not a huge fan of Ruby.

But…I was a fan of Suzume and Chubs. So it was all worth it. These two kids were Ruby’s travel buddies. There was also Liam, the love interest, but I thought he was really flat and kind of blah. But trust me when I say Suzume and Chubs were awesome. It was easy to root for those kids and be terrified when something bad happened to them. Could the characters have been more strongly written? Yeah, I think so. If there was a weakness in this book, it was in the characters. Not in the writing, in the story, or in the world-building. All those things I very much enjoyed.

But the ending. Oh. My. God. It was probably one of the worst cliffhangers I have ever read. If you are not a fan of these, if reading cliffhangers will make you rate books lower, then there is a chance you will be doing that with this book. Because it was brutal. I sobbed, got really mad, and almost threw the book at the wall. So I just want to prepare anyone going into this one. I think if you are prepared for the inevitable, it might not make it as ugly when you get to it. Especially if you think this is a standalone and then crap! I would be so pissed.

Other than that though, this was a wonderful book and even though it is almost 500 pages, to me it never felt like it. The book is easy to read, flows well, and if you are a fast reader, you can easily do this book in one day. Not everyone can do that, but even so, it is still a very fast paced book that I would highly recommend. Keep in mind that book two is not due out until the fall of 2013. With the cliffhanger and that date, you might want to wait if you are going to get upset. I think I may have done that myself if I did not have an arc.

4/5 Dragons
To purchase a copy of The Darkest Minds from Amazon.com, click here: The Darkest Minds.

29 responses to “Book Review of The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

  1. Amy

    Oh wow! This sounds really great. I love books that make you feel really tense and invested in the story. Ruby sounds like a character that would bother me too, but it seems like the rest of the book makes up for her personality and the other characters not being as well developed as you would have liked. I love a great cliffhanger and it actually will make the enjoyment of a book that much better for me sometimes. It makes me ache with needing the next book. Awesome review as always Kara!!

    • I just felt very blah about a lot of the characters. Even the villain wasn’t all that scary. The love interest was meh. There were two characters I really liked, but even they could have been developed better. I just lacked a connection to them. The story though was awesome. I can’t wait to see how you feel about it.

  2. I’m SO happy you liked this one, Kara! I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading it. And it does seem like Ruby would get on my nerves quite a bit, but the plot just sounds so interesting and captivating that I don’t think it’d be such a major detraction my my enjoyment in the novel. Oh, and I’ve heard that the cliffhanger in this one is EXCRUCIATING. There are times when I like cliffhangers because it makes me care for what will happen next (which is always better than not caring), but other times it just feels gimmicky to me. I hope this cliffhanger is the former and not the latter! Great review, Kara!

    • It really is a lot of fun. I think Ruby will get on your nerves, but the plot was really entertaining so it”s easy to overlook minor flaws with a story as good as this. I feel like the cliffhanger was a little of both. It was pretty cruel. Hahaha.

  3. Okay, so now I’m really excited to start this one! If the plot is as good as you say it is, I think I can be forgivable with characters. Cliffhangers. Hmmm… I’m on the fence about them. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t. I can’t explain it, but some cliffhangers just feel more appropriate than others. Hopefully, this is one of them.

    • I am on the fence about them too. I know exactly what you mean about the appropriateness. I just read one that felt very cheap and it pissed me off. Now I’m nervous about you reading this, Steph! Hahaha. If you hate it, it’s not my fault! 😉

  4. Ah, I didn’t know this was a series, so that’s good to know. And based on what you say about the cliffhanger ending, I think I might have to wait until the series has been completely published before I read these–I don’t deal we’ll with anticipation.

    Your feelings toward Sam are disappointing. Not really my kind of protagonist. Actually, have you read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi? Sam sounds almost exactly like Juliette–“woe is me, I’m a monster, my parents hate me, etc.” Juliette really brought down the book for me, but maybe Sam won’t be quite so awful. On the other hand, it’s awesome to hear that the supporting characters are all likable. Well-written secondary characters are becoming somewhat hard to find, in my experience.

    Having already read (and greatly disliked) Bracken’s debut novel, Brightly Woven, I hadn’t planned on reading this one. But the general consensus seems to be a bit more positive, and I tend to like dystopian novels more than I do high fantasy, so I’ll probably give this one a try at some point.

    Thank you for your review, Kara!

    • Yes, I would wait if you dislike cliffhangers. This one was pretty brutal and mean to my emotions.

      I HAVE read Shatter Me. And you are right about Juliette. I can honestly say I don’t think Ruby was quite that annoying. But she did grate on me. I agree about well-written secondary characters. They are hard to find.

      I DNFd Brightly Woven because I found it boring. So I was hesitant about this too. But I really liked it.

    • Ah, it’s good to know that you liked this even though you didn’t like Brightly Woven. I think all the positive reviews I’ve read for The Darkest Minds were written by people who enjoyed Bracken’s debut.

  5. Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I’m looking forward to it since I loved Bracken’s debut, so I cannot WAIT to read it – although I might want to wait for the sequel to release because of the cliffhanger. It sounds fantastic, although it’s a shame about the characters. :/ Still, wonderful review, Kara! 😀

    • Ehh. The characters can be forgiven because the plot is entertaining. Also, sometimes it is just a case of me not connecting. You might. Interesting that you loved her debut. I DNFd it because I was bored. I’m interested to see how you reading this goes now. 🙂

  6. Sam

    Oh god, a cliffhanger? And a brutal one too? I don’t know if I’ll enjoy that! This book does sounds fantastic otherwise though, and I did really like Bracken’s Brightly Woven, so I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually. Like Keertana, I’ll most likely wait until the sequel is released before starting.

    Wonderful review, Kara!

  7. It sounds really good, despite the sound of the main character. I don’t mind insecurity, but I don’t want it to become almost whiny. I’m glad that the other characters are much better.
    The constant suspense and questions sounds awesome! It’s great when a book manages to give answers, without giving everything away. I tend to dislike cliff-hangers, but if they are fitted to the story, I don’t mind.. I want to read this one anyway 😀 Awesome review!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

    • She is a bit of a broken record in this one. I found it annoying. But maybe you won’t. Who knows? I am easily irritated. 😉

      I can’t wait to see what you think of this one, Mel.

  8. This is a little déjà vu for me. I know I read your review earlier and I SWEAR I commented.. but apparently I didn’t LOL!

    Anyway, great review! I actually just started reading this book. I’m only about 50 pages in, but I’m liking it so far. It kind of sucks to hear that Ruby gets a little annoying. I was starting to really get excited about her ‘secret’ so to know that it’s a let down is a bit lame.. Bummer! But so far the story sounds awesome and it’s good to know that it stays that way!

    • Haha, that’s funny. That happens to me ALL the time. Maybe you read it on Goodreads? I usually post there first.

      I’m glad you are liking it so far. Who knows, maybe Ruby won’t annoy you. Her secret is not really a secret at all. I can’t wait to read your review.

  9. This book sounds fantastic, Kara. But I guess I’ll have to wait for its release since I’m staying away from NG at the moment. Though in retrospect, if this is a Hyperion book, I doubt they’ll approve of my request. I guess I’ll have to wait…

    Fab review, as always!

    • Keep staying away! You can do it! I actually got a copy of this from another blogger so I didn’t get this one from NG. But I am pretty sure it was up there anyway. And I do think Hyperion is accepting blogger requests again. They were on the one book I saw anyway.

  10. Eeeep! This was my WoW way back and I still can’t wait to get my hands on it (well even more so now) I love that even though the characters were not the strongest every other element made up for it. I hope I don’t want to punch the MC! I don’t personally mind cliff hangers, I actually quite enjoy them. I love being left pining for the next book and then the excitement when I finally get my hands on it. Awesome review, Kara!

    • I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this one, Jenni. You know how intolerant I am of people, especially book characters. Hahahaha! I don’t mind MOST cliffhangers but this one was just UGLY.

  11. Ooooh, I’m glad you liked this. I have an ARC that I may or may not manage to get to before the release date. If I have any free space in my review schedule, I’m going to fit it in, but I don’t know if I will. :/

    Anyway, I’m cheered that you liked it. There are few enough awesome dystopias.

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