Book Review: Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Kayla Lucas

At the beginning of October, I finished reading (well actually listening) to The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Here’s the synopsis:

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. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.

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Now onto the review. BEWARE: There are spoilers.

I liked this book overall. It had an interesting premise of gifted children affecting the entire population and the country’s reaction to these newly affected children, called Psi. At the beginning of the book there was an obvious enemy you could fight against and a hero you could root for as she tries to find her way to safety. Ruby’s background and the development of world Ruby currently lived done at the beginning of the book was amazing. You could understand why Ruby was closed off and could see the hatred and torture these Psi kids had gone thru at the camps, but that is where the book starts to fall short. I found Ruby weak and kinda whiny. She always made the choice that looked like a sacrifice when there were plenty of times she could have worked with those around her to make her situation better. My favorite character was actually Chubs, the realistically cynical kid who is a member of the small group of kids Ruby joins up with. Chubs had a goal and could make plans to get to that goal. He was willing to veer off course to help his friends, but he was determined to reach his end game.

I also found a lot of the plot predictable. Ruby falls in love with the cute boy (Liam) she meets right after escaping some “bad guys,” the anti-government agency, the Children’s League, that did break Ruby out of Thurmond and comes back to save her again (because that wasn’t given away by Ruby keeping the panic button the League gave to her). An unneeded love triangle is forced into the plot with Clancy and Ruby growing closer until Ruby realizes Clancy is actually using his powers on her. These two example among other thing all felt gimmicky and added nothing to the plot. The biggest “plot twist” (it’s in quotations because I wasn’t actually surprised) was when Clancy revealed that he had influenced the president into making an army full of Red Psi kids (kids who control fire and are seen as the most dangerous). A surprise for Clancy was that his army didn’t come when summoned.

Once the camp is destroyed, Liam, Chubs, and Ruby head back on the road to continue part of their original goal and deliver deceased friend’s letter to his father. Things do not go as planned and the father has a gun out quite quickly. The Children’s League ends up saving Ruby, Liam, and Chubs after the encounter turns nasty and Chubs is gravely injured. And here we find Ruby making the choice to erase herself for Liam’s mind, using her orange Psi powers, instead of getting Liam in on a plan to find Chubs and escape the League. No, Ruby decides to convince him to leave the Children’s League Safe house removing any thoughts that would lead Liam to come searching for her or Chubs. And that’s where it ends, with no happy endings and enough of a cliffhanger that you want to read the next book just to have some closure.

Overall, the book isn’t bad and is engaging throughout, but it is predictable in places and ends at a point where you feel compelled to read the next book even if the first wasn’t your favorite.

That’s my review, so if you have any comments, disagreements, questions, or book recommendations for me drop them in the comments below.

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