The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest MindsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Published by: Disney Hyperion on December 18, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 496
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

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 herβ€”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 Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken - Enjoyment Graph

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.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken - Corruption, Telekinesis, Mind Control

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!

The Verdict


Photo of Ashley
I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

Don't miss my next post!

Sign up to get my blog posts sent directly to your inbox (plus exclusive store discounts!).

You might like these


  1. I’m glad Ruby turned out to be a much better character in the end. The plot definitely sounds intriguing. BTW, I like the text effects that you used in the banner πŸ™‚ Brilliant review as always! Thank you, Ashley.

    Henrietta recently posted: Losing It – Cora Carmack
  2. I love your graph, great idea! I have heard of this one but always passed it up for other things. The way you described the romance makes me push it a little farther back on my to read list, I really hate random/insta love. Awesome review!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. Thanks Alise! Maybe you should hold off on reading it until the second book comes out. As I said, The Darkest Minds does leave off in an intense place that makes me think I’ll enjoy the second book more. So maybe it will be more enjoyable for you if you have the second book to immediately follow up with!

  3. I love your enjoyment chart! Too funny:) I’m bummed this book didn’t quite do it for you. It’s on my to-read list too…

    1. Maybe you’ll end up enjoying it a bit more—you never know! There are a few people on Goodreads who are totally raving about it!

  4. This one sounds really good. I’m interested to read it. I’m sorry it wasn’t as good in the middle. I hate it when books just like go of the deep end and it feels like a frantic stuggle to stay floating! I’m so glad it picked up again! YAY! I think I will have to try this. Thanks for you awesome, honest review. πŸ˜€

    1. Trust me, you’ll be pissed when it ends! The ending definitely makes up for the slowness in the middle. If it weren’t for the ending, I probably would have been unsure about continuing with the series.. but the ending changed everything. Now I’m just desperate for book 2!

      I can’t wait to see what you think! πŸ˜€

    1. Yeah I think it’s awesome that Gabby and I had similar thoughts. πŸ™‚ And regarding the colours: at first I was afraid I was just a TERRIBLE reader and totally missed the explanation somewhere. I was glad to find out that it wasn’t just me and they actually aren’t explicitly described XD

  5. Bleh. I have this one to read but now I don’t want to. Too many things that bothered you would make me go crazy. But just so you know, I had to laugh for about 5 minutes before I could read your review because of the graph you made. Why must you be so oddly awesome???

    1. HAhaaha πŸ˜€ Maybe I should do graphs more often!

      It might be worth still reading this book after the second one comes out and seeing what the reviews are like for that one. The end makes me think that the second book could possibly be really REALLY awesome, because TDM ended in a pretty great spot!

  6. Ugh. I hated the cliffhanger on this book. I agree with you that it left off REALLY wanting me to read the next one, but it also made me incredibly angry. The rest of the review I agree with you on though. I didn’t much care for Ruby at all. I agree that I didn’t like being left in the dark with all the details like I was. I totally agree that the colors were not explained clearly. I thought that was just me too. Awesome review. I liked it a little more than you did, but I get where you are coming from completely.

    1. I think it’s pretty cool that we ended up agreeing on so many things! I’m sorry the ending made you angry though! If only book 2 was available right now. πŸ˜› *sigh*

  7. Great review! Seems like I enjoyed this book more than you, but that’s okay! I definitely agree that it sort of slowed down in the middle, and it became rather confusing. Still, that ending…OMG…I NEED BOOK 2 NOW. I hate the ending so much that I love it (if that makes any sense).

    1. Thanks Jen! I can’t wait to see your new design and your review of The Darkest Minds! I’ll keep a look out for both of them. πŸ˜‰

  8. I’ll admit Liam and Ruby weren’t my favorite characters in this book, probably it’s like what you said there was nothing that build up to suggest that they had feelings for each other throughout their escape. It was like bam, I like you and I’m like when did that happen? However, the last couple of pages between them was sweet. Chubs was my favorite character and I hated what happened to him in the end, but I’m crossing my fingers that he will make it.

    1. Yeah I agree that towards the end Liam and Ruby were pretty sweet! Even though I wasn’t crazy about their relationship, I was still able to appreciate those last few pages!

  9. Your right ruby was a very annoying character ..and I like that liam says darlin I mean he is a country boy .. Bit I think that their was too much road trip and not enough romance

Recent Posts

    Random Posts