Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Overall Rating: 5 stars
The Darkest Minds is excellent. We follow a young girl named Ruby through a crisis period in the US. Currently children are coming down with “powers” and are being termed Psi Affected Youth. They’re being placed in camps to monitor what’s happening to them and the country is in shambles after the outbreak of Psi. The children fall into 5 color categories, some being much more dangerous than others. This book was thrilling, full of great action and though provoking scenarios of what we might do if something like this ever happened.
I loved this book. I picked it up based on a recommendation and thought it was amazing. Right from the beginning we’re thrown into this crazy situation of children being taken from their homes and put into what can only be called concentration camps. There Ruby has managed to pass herself off as a Green instead of a dangerous Orange, but we know it won’t last.
I appreciated that she got out of the camp quickly, even though I wasn’t sure if I trusted Kate. The way Ruby could see into people’s memories was so interesting even though she often did it by accident. But so things got exciting once she split from the group.
Of course how can you not love Liam, Chubs, and Zu? We’re so thankful to Zu from the get go since she lets Ruby hide in betty (the van). I love the way Zu silently communicates things but is still so expressive as a character. From then on our we see Liam and her grow increasingly closer as Chubs continues to express his distaste for them picking her up. And Ruby is still hiding who she is from them.
I appreciated how a girl who is clearly suffering from the trauma of being imprisoned for most of her life in a camp and being constantly afraid of being found out doesn’t fling herself into this big romance because that would be unrealistic. I appreciate that they seem to have a crush on each other and we slowly get to watch her trust with Liam grow over the course of the book and blossom into a romance.
Of course we knew it would come out who she really was and I actually really enjoyed how it did and that it didn’t lead to the usual “you lied to me” drama mid book. I love the way she steps up in the scene with the Skip Tracers to protect the group and then the cute scene afterwards where she think they’ll want her to leave and they don’t care that she’s orange.
Then of course the other big scene is East River, this mysterious paradise they’ve been searching for where the big plot twist is that the president’s son, supposedly the first kid “cured” is the one running it. We find out he’s a dangerous orange and that this place isn’t all it seems. I honestly thought the way he prowled after Ruby was just really strange and uncomfortable, not in a way that made the story bad, but in a way that enhanced the creepiness.
I was sad to see Zu go at this point and honestly found it hard to believe she left but we lose her. Then with an attack by the reds which was awful and horrifying and of course the manipulation from Clancy is just terrifying.
And while this book touched on a very dark subject of putting kids in camps because they’re potentially dangerous or different and then hunting them down when they escape, it had plenty of lightness to balance it out. The cute romance just budding between Liam and Ruby or the familial teasing between all the members of Betty. Some of my favorite little lines were:
“When a girl cries, few things are more worthless than a boy.”
“It feels like we should do something,” he said. “Like, send her off on a barge out to sea and set her on fire. Let her go out in a blaze of glory.”
Chubs raised an eyebrow. “It’s a minivan, not a Viking.”
“Where did she come from, and where can I find one?”
“Picked this one up at a gas station in West Virginia, bargain price. Last one on the shelf, sorry.”
Just to name a few.
But now the real tragedy of this book, the ending. Following that absolute shock of Chubs getting SHOT we end up with Ruby calling on the children league to help them. Now I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it but my pet peeve in books is anything that has do with people either losing their memory (the Fallen series among many) or losing whatever power we’ve watched them learn to deal with an entire series only to lose it in the end (looking at you Grisha trilogy).
That said of course I was devastated that this book ended with Liam not only losing his memory of Ruby, but Ruby being the one to take it. So heartbreaking. My only salvation was that this was only the first book so obviously he had to get it back at some point.
All in all a fabulous book though, definitely recommend it.
Also sidenote: if you loved the darkest minds check out this “Black is the Color” bracelet by Emiesnook on etsy. Click here if you like them!