Review: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) - Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: December 11th 2012
Published By: HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 488
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a government ′rehabilitation camp′. Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America′s children, but she and the others had emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now on the run, she is desperate to find East River, the only safe haven left for kids like her, and she joins a group of other runaways who have escaped their own camps. Liam, their brave leader, is falling for Ruby, but she 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 Liam. But there are also 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 - and one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living

The Darkest Minds begins with Ruby in a government rehabilitation camp (Thurmond), but it is not immediately clear what has happened to her or why she is there. But as the story unfolds, we get to find out more about this world where a mysterious illness is killing children or resulting in survivors to manifest unexplainable abilities - and any child who demonstrates these abilities must be sent to a “rehabilitation camp” such as Thurmond. We also get to learn more about Ruby, her abilities, how she is as much a mystery to herself as she is to us, and how she just trying to survive. Then Ruby’s world is flipped upside down when she is broken out of Thurmond - however the people who helped her escape are not all that they seem to be. Ruby flees from her rescuers and comes across three other kids on the run and she soon develops a strong bond with Liam, Chubs and Zu. We then follow their journey as they struggle to find East River - a place where kids are kept safe from the authorities, can live life without torture and where their abilities are embraced. However, if things seem to be too good to be true - they normally are.

This book is intriguingly dark and twisted - showing a world filled with fear and where children cannot trust those who are supposed to be caring for them. A world where panic and fear of the unknown have driven adults to allow themselves to believe in the lie of “rehabilitation” and to allow children to be kept in an environment where they are not being helped, but in fact are receiving nothing but abuse (both physical and emotional). Most children have no real understanding of their powers, and are punished if they accidently use them, all the while dealing with the knowledge that those who are supposed to love them actually fear and hate them and have sentenced them to this life.

The main characters in this story all have their own strengths and weakness, they all have their place within this story, but more importantly, they all have their own hopes for some kind of future in this terrible world. Ruby of course being our protagonist is the one we get to know the best. She starts this story scared, confused and with little self-worth, but gradually she builds into a loyal and strong character. Her past slowly unravels into the story, and as you understand this part of her, you learn why she is so scared of herself - and her story is equally intriguing and heartbreaking. Even though there were times I wanted to scream at her for being so naive or for a making a stupid decision, I generally understood her actions.

Her 3 new friends are all very strong characters in their own right. Liam is caring, goodhearted and selfless. He is the eternal optimist, but he is also willing to fight for what is right. He instantly shows compassion for Ruby and is willing to help and protect her in any way that he can. Chubs however is not as willing to accept Ruby into their little group - he is very guarded and fiercely protective, but as the story moves along we get to see that he witty, loyal and caring. We also have Zu, who becomes like a little sister to Ruby - and even though she is mute, she has an inner strength that is to be admired.

The romance in this book is not the main focus of the story - which is something that I really liked. This relationship developed slowly as Ruby feels she can’t trust herself to become close to anyone. But, when this romance starts to pick up, it is utterly adorable. The focus was more on the friendships that were formed, and I really enjoyed learning about these characters, as they all have their own stories to tell and their own demons. While we did learn a lot about Liam, Chubs and Zu, there is still a lot to learn about their past, and their future.

There are two particular scenes in this book that I really want to talk about - but since this is a spoiler-free review I can’t say too much… but I still need to mention them. The first is at the end of a shower scene (no, not that type of scene). At what happened here, my was heart pounding, I was in shock, and I, like Ruby, just stared and thought “No, no, no, nonono” - Ms Bracken, you crushed me, and you totally deserve to be punched in the arm for that! (no, I am not condoning abuse against authors - never ever abuse an author - this is something that Ruby would have done in this situation if she could).

The second scene I need to mention is the ending. Although so much happens in this story, and you see so much heartache along the way, you will not be prepared for the utter devastation of the ending of this book - filled with fear, hate, love, courage, loyalty, sacrifice and heartbreak. It will leave you breathless, gutted, shocked and yearning for the sequel.

The Darkest Minds is fantastically written, slowly unveiling a world with lots of suspense, dread and hope. Alexandra Bracken has built an amazingly dark, violent and scared world where there is no shortage of dangers to be faced. This terrifying (and terrified) world is built piece by piece, with the pacing just right to enable you to understand this world and its characters, showing the best and worst of human nature - strength, innocence, betrayal, weakness, friendship, loyalty, fear, hope and courage.



“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.”

“Did you know…you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forget to breath?”

“He’s so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.”

“When a girl cries, few things are more worthless than a boy”

“Ruby, give me one reason why we can’t be together, and I’ll give you a hundred why we can.”

What do you think?

  • Oh, your review is perfect :D I love this book so much, glad I used my nefarious skillz to influence you to read it :D

    I’m very glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you get the sequel soon,


    • Kristy says:

      Oh Shaheen, I owe you for working your wicked skills on me, I loved it!
      I think I’ll have to wait for the sequel to be released :( That’s okay, it’s worth the wait (no matter how painful)

  • I hadn’t heard of this book before your review, and as soon as I finished, I quickly added it to my TBR on Goodreads. It sounds fantastic!
    I love characters that can have the ability to annoy you, because it means you’re invested in their decisions - which is a good thing :D
    I like romance (of course), but I don’t like it when it takes over a book’s story and world. So I am happy to learn that the romance is a kind of side-story in this novel, and that its gradual (no insta-love - yay!).
    I love complex characters, so I am definitely keen to learn more about the three friends that Ruby makes, as they all sounds pretty interesting.
    I want to read this book ASAP, so I can know what you mean when you talk about the two scenes. Although I am not looking forward to a heartbreaking ending D:
    Anyway, fantastic review, Kristy - you have definitely inspired me to read this novel!

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Chiara!
      I am so happy that my review inspired you to read The Darkest Minds! As you know, as a blogger we hope to inspire people to read a book - and hearing that you now want to read this book has made my day! I really hope you enjoy it :) I will keep an eye out for your review.
      (feel free to contact me about those two scenes :D)
      Kristy recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #53My Profile

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