When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. 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 having a life worth living.
Trigger Warnings: fat phobia (unchallenged), sexual assault, gore.
I missed out on a lot of classic YA dystopia, as I preferred to read more adult books when I was younger, for some reason. Now a young adult myself, I have absolutely fallen in love with YA, and have loved it now for a good couple of years. I’ve spent a good chunk of this time catching up on what are considered ‘classic’ YA series, The Darkest Minds being one of them. And, of course, with the movie coming out soon, I had an even bigger incentive.
Holy shit, this book was amazing. I had expected to like it, it being as popular as it is/was, but this book totally exceeded all expectations.
I really connected with Alexandra Bracken’s writing. I found it so easy to read and in places, so completely beautiful that she was able to switch a scene on its head in just one sentence.
Something I was really impressed by is how easy-flowing the internal monologues of Ruby were. She’s a very damaged, tortured character, who spends a lot of time second-guessing herself, and so a lot of pages are devoted to her inner conflicts. Usually, this style can bog down a book or seem to drawn out, but they seemed to pass quickly and all seemed necessary to the story.
I have to say, I LOVE the concept of The Darkest Minds, down to every last detail. I love the different colours the kids are sorted into, I love the idea of the camps and the horrors the kids endure (as sadistic as it sounds), and I love the kind of road trip-esque elements to the story too. It wasn’t something I’d been expecting, but it really added some light to an otherwise very dark story.
Those light moments interspersed between the dark I found really effective. Alexandra Bracken had me crying on one page, terrified for my children on another, and grinning on the next. I felt everything I was supposed to feel, at the time I was supposed to feel it, and that’s the most important thing in a book for me.
Got to admit though, I could have done without that ending. My heart can’t take much more of this stuff, and neither can my eyes. As I write this review, I have a pile of tissues next to me, and that knot still hasn’t loosened in my chest. I really feel for the people who read this book when it first came out and had to wait for the second one to come about. You guys are the real heroes.
Okay, so if I loved the writing, and I loved the plot, I ADORED the characters in this book.
Ruby is the kind of character I tend to gravitate to, even if she isn’t entirely unique in the YA world. She has a shit tonne of baggage and has a whole lot of self-doubt and self-hate to work through, while trying to balance her personal demons with trying to stay alive, trying to stay human, and caring for those she lets herself be close with. Sign. Me. Up.
Zu is my precious little child I adore her with my entire heart. Every interaction with her simultaneously warmed and broke my heart, and I just need her to be okay. The protective instinct the other characters feel for her isn’t lost on me because I would jump in front of a bullet for this girl.
Chubs. I’m still raw from Chubs’ narrative, so I apologise if I’m not very eloquent when I say – Chubs deserves the world and I will fight anyone who calls him abrasive or angry because he is another precious child I will defend to the death. His reaction to the horrors the children of this world have to live through is so completely realistic, but the reluctant love, loyalty, and protectiveness he has for his friends is just heart-wrenching.
Liam. Ohh, Liam. If you’ve read my reviews for a lot of books – especially YA – you’ll probably know that I’m not a fan of romance a lot of the time, and feel like the story would be better without it, but… this romance was perfect. Liam as a love interest is exactly what I gravitate towards. He is kind, open with his emotions, flawed, and cares so deeply for the people around him that I just want to wrap him up in a blanket and tell him to stay there forever. He’s such a nice guy trying desperately to protect and provide for his friends in the worst circumstance.
The relationships each of these characters have with each other is just nothing short of perfection in my eyes. They are perhaps my new favourite group, and have definitely all made it onto my top favourite characters of all time.
I absolutely can’t wait to carry on with this series and I’m so glad I picked it up. I’m also buzzing for the film and the fourth book which is coming out soon!
Just a quick note in case you skipped the TW, there is a scene in which there is a sexual assault in the book, and it is described on page. Take care of yourselves, lovelies.
Until the next one,