The Darkest Minds is a dystopian novel, set in what seems to be the not-so-distant future. A disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN) has killed a good majority of the youngest generations children, usually manifesting between the ages of 8 and 14. Those children who are lucky enough to survive, don’t escape completely unscathed. They all begin to manifest some sort of “psi”ability. To control them, they are sent to “rehabilitation camps” that are going to cure them of their abilities, making them safe to return to their lives and families.
The reality is that these camps are a place for the government to perform testing on the kids, while creating a labor camp environment teeming with physical and mental abuse. The first thing that happens when they arrive at their camp, is that they are sorted by what their abilities are, and assigned a color. Blues can control objects, Yellows can create and conduct electricity and Green’s have heightened intelligence. Then there are the Red’s and Orange’s. The dangerous ones. Red’s can set things on fire with their minds, and Oranges can slip into your brain see your memories and control your thoughts. They can make you do whatever they want you too.
Ruby has been at camp for six years. She has no knowledge of what has happened to the country in the years she has been there, she only knows that she has to do exactly what she is told to survive. She has to keep her secret. No one can know what she truly is, or else they could get hurt. She needed to protect them more than herself.
When an anti-government organization called The Children’s League breaks her out of camp, she soon realizes that not everything is as it seems. The world is a lot more complicated than she thought it was, and she quickly finds herself on the run with another group of kids who have managed to escape from their own camp.
Ruby is fighting a constant battle. She is terrified of who she is, what she can do, and most of all, what other people want her to do. She struggles to figure out who she can trust and what exactly it is that she wants to do.
I picked up The Darkest Minds after seeing the sequel, Neverfade, in stores. I almost bought it before I realized that it was a sequel and I should probably read them in order. But the cover was just so pretttty.
Anyway, it took me a minute to get into it. The setup for dystopians usually takes a little longer in the first book, and this one was no exception. Plus at the beginning Ruby doesn’t really talk, so there is little to no dialogue. But once it picked up, man, it picked up.
It shoots you right into action. It isn’t long before you get introduced to the secondary characters, all of which I adore. Seriously. Chubs, Zu, and Liam were so well developed in such a short amount of time. Bracken did an excellent job giving them the attention that they deserve, and that is part of why I loved this novel so much.
After the first few chapters, the pacing is done really well. You don’t feel like the story is being rushed, but you also don’t get those lulls of nothingness that tend to happen when characters are getting from Point A to Point B that you often get in dystopians.
Bracken’s writing style is so smooth you just fall right into it. She doesn’t waste time on descriptions that are unnecessary, but gives everything its appropriate attention.
Sidenote: She does tend to like the oh-so-common letting out breaths they didn’t know they were holding thing. Happens like 5 times. Mildly annoying.
The plot itself can seem pretty typical at first. Dystopian, girl heroine, oppressive government, danger, love interest. But once you get to know Ruby, you can’t really compare her to any other dystopian heroine’s out there. Most people would probably compare her to Divergent’s Tris or The Hunger Games’ Katniss. I can see why they would at first glance, but there is one major difference between them and Ruby. Tris and Katniss are both given a choice. Ruby isn’t. She was born the way that she is, and can’t control it. She is literally terrified of herself. It’s a whole different kind of fear.
And that ending? Geezus. That ending. Needless to say I’m picking up Neverfade today on my lunch break. So excited!