Warning: Will contain spoilers for the first book in the trilogy – The Darkest Minds. You can find my review for that book here!
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.
When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?
As I said in my review of the first book in the trilogy, The Darkest Minds, I’m catching up after years of side-lining this series, and I LOVED the first book.
Now, I’m trying to be objective and write a review that’s a true reflection of this entire second book, but I’ve got to say that that ending is just making me want to rate Never Fade 5 stars and shout about it forever.
I loved Alexandra Bracken’s writing as much as I did with the first book. She definitely strikes the balance between description and action for me, and also between writing that’s beautiful and visual, without being purple.
I love the way she writes emotion, and this series is definitely highly charged with it. I sometimes find that I have a bit of a disconnect when it comes to protagonist’s emotions (something I’m going to make a post about soon) compared to secondary characters, but Never Fade is written with such focus on reaction and emotion that I never felt that.
The plot is where I had a little issue with the book, and why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 (which, come on, is still amazing). The first maybe 15% of the book I struggled with, but I often do when it comes to second books in a series so that’s more a subjective gripe.
However, I did find that even with the rest of the book, up until the 80% mark, that it was a little bit repetitive and formulaic. It was very fall into trap -get captured – panic – escape – angst about it, or at least that’s how it felt reading. I understood the reasoning behind what happened and how that furthered Ruby’s and the other character’s journeys, but I maybe think that condensing the events down a little into just one, or a couple of big events, would have made it more effective?
It just felt too much like I was reading something I’d already read before in the book so I knew where it was going to go, and so didn’t really get invested in what was happening.
BUT – oh boy, that last 20% or so in the book was wild. Like I said in the beginning, I just finished this book and I’m still emotionally compromised. It had everything I want from an ending – it was action-packed, wrought with tension, and as heartbreaking as it was hopeful.
I’m very resistant to new characters being brought into a series, especially when the old characters are missing, so it took me a while to warm up to the new ensemble, but once I did, I was sold.
Jude, a young yellow part of Ruby’s team, is the absolute embodiment of a cinnamon roll, and having him along for the ride was just such a delight. He was strong, brave, open with his feelings, excitable, and managed to tear my heart into tiny, tiny pieces.
I do very much like the character of Vida, a blue on the team, as she’s sarcastic, witty, and definitely packs a sting. She lightened up so many scenes and made me laugh countless times with her take-no-shit attitude, but she also showed moments of weakness, which I appreciated. My only problem with her is that we didn’t get to see all that much of her weaknesses, or much of her character outside being traditionally badass and snarky. But, I’ve heard that she grows more in the next book so I’m excited to see that.
As for the characters from the first book, I loved Liam as much as I did in The Darkest Minds. He’s much more defensive and insecure in this book, but I found that so realistic given that Ruby has been poking around in his head, and to an extent, has taken away his sense of reality and choice. I’d hate to think how I’d act in that situation. There’s definitely some of the old Liam there though, and my heart is made very happy by that.
Ruby herself is also a changed character, which again I find totally realistic. She’s much tougher and much more experienced than the girl picked up by Black Betty in the first book, as well as being so much more capable. Her pain is so solid and real, but I also felt that it isn’t just angst for the sake of it, because everything she agonises over is warranted. I worried a little that it would just be more of the same for the same reasons, but I think her inner conflict is nailed in this book.
I want to talk about so many other characters but also want this to be a spoiler free review! Ahhh!!
I think this is as far as I’m able to go without delving into spoilers so I’m going to stop gushing here. I really do absolutely love this series and its characters and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.
Until the next one,