Review: The Darkest Minds

I happened upon this book during a Barnes & Noble trip back in August of last year and I picked it up because the story sounded interesting enough to buy it. Plus the book was signed, so that was another perk in purchasing the book. Not until March did it finally land on my TBR pile – thanks to my random TBR Jar pull!

The Darkest Minds takes place in a world where an unknown genetic disease has infected most of the adolescent population. Children reaching their tenth birthday either die or develop some type of power. Since the government doesn’t really know how to handle the effects of this new mysterious illness, they try to control the onset of it by imprisoning the children who show any signs of Everhart’s Disease also known as IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration). Regrettably our main character, Ruby, develops one of the highest levels of Everhart’s Disease and is taken to one of the imprisonment camps, which are known to the public as “rehabilitation” centers.

The book takes us on Ruby’s journey – from living a normal life at home to developing IAAN. We share the struggles she faces as she discovers her abilities and as she tries to find her place in this new, unsettling world – a world where she is feared because of her abilities.

Sounds like an attention-grabbing story, right?

I had high expectations for The Darkest Minds and although I enjoyed the story, I also was a bit disappointed in it as well. For example, from reading the back synopsis on the book, I thought the story was going to start with a big dramatic event where the parents see something so terrible in Ruby that they have to lock her in the garage and call the police. However, this scene mentioned doesn’t take place at the beginning of the book. When this scene is finally mentioned (about half way through the book), it is nothing like I imagined from the synopsis and it doesn’t contain the intense emotional drama of a child being disowned by their parents because of a discovered “power”. Because I was anticipating this scene at the beginning of the book, the opening story was a bit dry and it really didn’t draw me into the story as quickly as I had hoped.

Even though I wasn’t immediately drawn into the story, I was glad I continued to read The Darkest Minds. I found that I liked Ruby and her struggle to understand her powers. The uncertainty she felt about her ability to control her power was a big part of the story, as well as the need to distance herself from others. At times, though, her inner struggle was a bit aggravating and I wished the author would tone it down a bit.

I also liked the supporting characters; Liam, Chubs, and Zu. All three had interesting back stories and were well developed. I felt for all of them and cheered them on through the trials they encountered while searching for East River, the utopia for children with abilities, who could stay there without the fear of being hunted and imprisoned.

Although Liam is the one Ruby interacts with the most and with whom she has feelings for, my favorite relationship development was the one between Ruby and Chubs. The progressiveness of this relationship seemed more real. How Chubs was leery of Ruby at the beginning because he felt she was hiding something from them was a genuine concern that they had to work through. Going through the “trust issues” and slowly opening up to each other was an endearing example of how true friendships grow.

Out of all the characters, Zu was the one I enjoyed reading about the most. For a character who didn’t say anything, she had the best background story and power. I would love to read more about her and her background story, leading up to when she joined Liam and Chubs. I think Alexandra Bracken did a wonderful job developing Zu and making her such a lovable character within this dark dystopian tale.

In closing, the story was entertaining and after finishing the book, I was pleased with what the author created. Yes, there were slow patches within the storyline and Ruby’s disconsolate attitude kind of bothered me a bit but overall I liked the story. Did I like it enough to complete the series? I honestly could stop reading the series with The Darkest Minds. With how the story ended, I’d be happy with making up my own future ending so maybe I’ll pick up the second book or maybe I won’t. Time will tell which…

I would recommend this book to those who are drawn to Young Adult novels. It’s got the classic YA dystopian feel to the story and the characters are relatable. If you like stories about super heroes, you might like this book as well since it involves people with powers. Anyone over 13 years can read and appreciate this book.

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