Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Published by: Disney Hyperion on December 18, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction
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When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who 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 a life worth living.
My journey with The Darkest Minds was a strange and complex one. My enjoyment was all over the place: up, down, and everywhere in between. Since I’m a nerd, I don’t have funny GIFs for you; instead, I have a graph:
My Enjoyment Levels — Monitored
The book started out pretty awesome. It put us right into the midst of things, it held back details to keep me interested.. it was great. But somewhere at the end of the beginning, my interest dropped off pretty hard. I felt like nothing was happening, it seemed like just a glorified road trip, I couldn’t tell where the relationships were headed—or even where the plot was headed, and I didn’t mind putting down the book. But at the end of the middle, things started picking up and getting intense again!
So let’s try to break this down…
My first problem with the book is that we have very little back story. Or more accurately: it’s there but it’s never explained. We know that a disease killed off most of the child population. We know that the survivors have strange powers. We know that the government put those survivors in “rehabilitation” camps that were like prisons. The entire story is focused around these gifted children—Psi—seeking freedom and rights, but no one seems to question or wonder how they got those powers in the first place. And to be honest, that was my very first question. It’s just like “Okay, so we all have these super crazy powers, we need freedom. That’s all.” Does no one care where they came from? Is no one curious as to how the heck these kids developed those powers?? We don’t even get a hint that this question will be answered in the future; it was just ignored.
Also, one more quick note, the powers were honestly a bit confusing because kids are classified by colour: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. I came to understand that the higher the colour, the more dangerous the powers, but it was never clearly explained what each colour is. It was vaguely hinted that certain powers had a certain colour (i.e. telekinesis = blue; something with electricity = yellow; power over the mind = orange;), but I would have liked a clearer explanation of each rank. Unless I’m retarded and somehow missed those explanations during one of the “enjoyment low points” when my concentration was off…
Moving on, I did not like the main character at all. Ruby was all about the pity parties. Her inner dialogue was constantly going on about how she’s evil, she’s dangerous, she’s one of the bad ones, if her friends knew they would HATE HER, if anyone knew they would OUTCAST HER. Poor, poor Ruby. I’m trying hard to not sound like a bitch here, but oh my god, it drove me totally insane. And I felt like the ‘big reveal’ wasn’t even that big of a deal. I mean, yeah it was scary and weird and okay, she’s powerful.. but come on. We had a front row seat to her pity party every single chapter. It got old after a while and I just wanted to sew her inner dialogue’s mouth shut.
My last complain before we move onto the good stuff: the romance. The romance in this book had zero build up, and then it popped up out of nowhere. I guess it wasn’t quite insta-love because Ruby and Liam were travelling together for a while, but they spent all that time travelling with next to zero flirtation or sexual tension, and then they were suddenly like, “Oh darlin’, I’ve wanted you all along!” (Yes, he says “darlin'”, I thought that was weird too.) To be fair, it wasn’t horrible, it just could have had more build up. If the build up was better, I think it would have made an okay romance, especially because Liam is quite a likeable character (except for the “darlin'” thing, which made me feel like he was an 80 year old grandfather).
This is all starting to feel depressing, so let’s talk about the good stuff! The overall story behind The Darkest Minds is really interesting; we have powers, mind control, manipulation, government agents, conspiracy, and more! My love of the plot is one of the reasons that I’m dying to know more about the back story.
Unfortunately, my favourite character is introduced towards the end so I’m hesitant to talk about him much, and my favourite part of him isn’t even revealed until the very end! So I guess just know that there are a very wide variety of interesting and different characters. Some are annoying (like Ruby), but a lot of them have interesting personalities and they easily stand out from each other. Liam is sweet, determined, and a good leader—but he has flaws that you’ll grow to love in some weird way. Chubs is totally weird and sometimes annoying, but he’ll also grow on you.. especially near the end. And Zu is the most adorable character ever! I wanted to hold her, hug her, squeeze her, and protect her from the world.
I know I hated Ruby at the beginning, but to be fair, she did have some good character development. It kicked in really late, but by the end of the book, Ruby really turned around and became a powerful ass-kicker. Maybe not physically, but mentally.. if that makes sense. She accomplishes a lot and becomes a much stronger character. I really hope her new attitude carries through to the second book because she really turned into a character that I could easily love!
Overall, The Darkest Minds wasn’t a bad book—I just wanted to see more from it. I wanted more explanations, more detail, and more answers. The story left off in a REALLY great place (and by “great” I mean it hooked me in and I want to keep reading), so that’s very promising. I have some high hopes for book #2! The ending was set up in such a way that the second book could quite easily not be a ‘filler’. Fingers crossed!