The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

4.5/5 Stars
Published by Disney Hyperion
Published December 18th, 2012

Synopsis: 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 leading, 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.

I am at such a loss of words. With an extraordinary plot and story building, Alexandra Bracken was able to capture my attention from the first page. The Darkest Minds is an amazing blend of supernatural powers and teenage hormones - what more could you ask more? This has to be one of my favorite reads of this year. There was not a single dull moment; it was packed to the brim with action and had my heart racing. This was one of those books that made me have to close the book and sit back to contemplate my entire existence. My heart felt heavy as I neared the end, but with Never Fade tauntingly sitting on my shelf, I sense that this wild adventure is just about to begin.

This was such a unique story with an excellent background. We begin the book with Ruby, our main character, in the fourth grade. She begins to describe the events that have been taking place and sets in stone the mood of this book. It is terrifyingly dark, yet so realistic. There are flickers of hope and tons of moments where you want to cuddle the main characters. It was so easy to immerse myself in the storyline and believe the events that were taking place. Nowadays it is hard to picture a dystopian novel actually coming to life, but with The Darkest Minds, the way Alexandra describes events makes it seem possible. 

The characters were so well developed. When we were introduced to Ruby, she was so quiet and reclusive, avoiding contact with people at all costs. But as we travelled further away from Thurmond and closer to East River, Ruby began to reveal her true self. She has a strong fire and passion despite the amount of crap she went through. Ruby is unremarkably strong and clever, steering clear of trouble - even as a ten year old. Then there is Liam, the leader of, as I call them, the fantastic four. He has weaved his way through my heartstrings all the way to the top of my favorites list. Liam will stop at nothing to protect his friends and is super sweet, kind, and thoughtful. Along with them are Zu and Chubs, who are wonderful additions to the team. These four characters work so well together, fitting together like puzzle pieces who are trying to save themselves from something greater than they can understand. 

One wonderful aspect about this book was that, although the romance was blatantly obvious, it was not pushed or rushed. In fact, I loved that Ruby was reluctant to even building friendships, let alone a relationship. Ruby and Liam's very first encounter was none like I have ever read before. That unlikely confrontation led to a beautiful relationship. Along with this romance, the friendship between Chubs and Ruby is one of my favorites. It starts off really shaky at first, simply because Chubs does not have the willpower to place faith in someone he just met. However, as time moves forward, they begin to trust each other and form this unlikely bond that seems just as unbreakable as Ruby and Liam's. Ruby also serves as sort of a sisterly figure to Zu, which was beautiful to watch unfold. 

Alexandra Bracken has a wonderful writing style that made Ruby's voice so pure and gentle, yet forceful and full of fire. Throughout the book, I wanted to fight with all those adults that felt the need to suppress these children who are just as confused and scared about the situation as they are. This plot unravelled slowly, yet the time it took to develop the world was definitely worth it. The emotions and actions expressed by Ruby and the team were so natural, yet deceptive - lulling you to a place of comfort, then punching you in the face. The ending was truly painful to read (I can confirm it took me about two days to convince myself I could read it), but I know Never Fade will hurt me in many more ways. 

"Time to carpe the hell out of this diem."