Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review || The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken ★★★★☆
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had 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.

The internet has been collectively raving about this series since I first tuned into booktube in December. So I finally decided to cave and see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit, at first I was a little wary. The first time I sat down with this book I read 80 or so pages. And by that point I wasn't terribly impressed. I was having a hard time getting into the writing, the worldbuilding was neat, but not very well explained, and Ruby--our narrator--wasn't really doing much for me.

I put it down and took a break. Later that evening I read another 100 pages. By then, things were starting to get rolling. The story had found it's groove and things were happening. Ruby became someone I could relate to and enjoy. I grew desperately attached to Liam, Chubs and Zu. I devoured the rest of the book quickly and with glee.

The book still has its flaws. The writing gets stronger as the story unfolds. Though there were a few times when characters were called by name before Ruby was introduced to them or before she was referring to them in that way. Since the story is first person, this bothered me. And given that Chubs' real name actually managed to stay on lockdown for as long as it did, this could've been easily fixed. Call it a nitpick or a pet peeve if you want, but it did throw me out of the immersion of the story when it happened.

That said, there were some genuinely amazing moments in this story. While the overarching plot points and major twists weren't too hard to puzzle out, they were still satisfying. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end of chapter 23 and the beginning of chapter 24 actually made my heart stop a little. I had to close the book and force myself to breathe.

And ugh, that ending. While I think some of the parts leading up to... well, everything hitting the fan, felt a little rushed, there's no doubt that the urgency was there. The stakes were high--and they felt high. I was frantically turning pages. I may have smacked the cover a number of times and hurled verbal abuse at the book once I was finished. But in a good way.

I am desperate for book 2. Part of my goal this year is to read through more series and actually complete them. But I actually want to dive right back in to Never Fade, which isn't always the case with other series. Unfortunately, the school library copy is checked out by a colleague and overdue. (I may or may not have confronted her about it after school today! She promised to bring it back soon.)

Despite the slow and wary start, I'm excited to see where this series will go. With the third book coming out this year, I think I picked a good time to jump aboard this ship.