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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2013
(Source: I won a hardback copy of this book.)
16-year-old Ruby was taken from her parent's home on her 10th birthday, and taken to a camp for kids with psi abilities.
One of a small number of kids who actually survived a disease known as IAAN, Ruby had no idea that the American government was afraid of what she could do with her mind, and ended up in camp with around 3000 other kids and held there like a prisoner for 6 years.

After being busted out by a member of a terrorist group intent on using Ruby's abilities for harm, Ruby manages to get away, and ends up with another group of kids in a similar situation.
How long can they run from the government and bounty hunters though? Can Ruby learn to use her abilities to her advantage? And will she ever make it home?

This was a 3 star story, with a 5 star ending.

Ruby was an interesting character. She was strong even when she didn't think that she was, and she was resourceful when things mattered. I felt sorry for her over the way she had been treated by her parents, then by the PSF (people in charge at the camp), and then by plenty of other people. I liked how she became more confident though, and how she began to see the way forward, even when the way forward was hard.

I liked the storyline in this book, but I did feel that it was pretty slow in places. Maybe it was the lack of zombies or something, but I didn't feel the urgency or adrenalin in this story the way I expected to, and although stuff happened, it didn't make me desperate to keep reading, which was a shame.
There were some twists and turns in this story, but I felt like I saw a lot of them coming. The last 10-15% of the story was really good though, it was a shame that the rest of the book couldn't have been the same! The finale of this book had excitement, it had twists and turns, it had drama and cliff-hangers galore, and a final heart-wrenching decision by Ruby which actually hurt to read.

Most of this book felt a little flat to me, but the ending was pretty spectacular. I really didn't get why people loved this book so much until I got to the ending, but I get it now. I really feel quite violent after that ending though - I don't know whether to throw the book, scream and shout, or cry - I am that incensed! After that ending though, I'll definitely be reading the next book.
Overall; a 3 star story, with a 5 star finish.
7.75 out of 10.
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on 6 February 2013
My review:

I received The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken as an ARC during BEA 2012 and I have had it on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up. I did pick it up more than once, but decided to read it in the beginning of 2013. Boy, was I glad I did that!

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is an intriguing novel which is amazingly well written. I loved the world and the characters which author created and I was literally stunned by it. I used to read Science Fiction books seldom, but now, after reading The Darkest Minds and few other YA Science Fiction books, it seems I have turned into the sci-fi fan. Let me rephrase it, I have turned into the fan of YA Sci-fi authors and that definitely includes Alexandra Bracken!

Plot:

The opening scenes of The Darkest Minds take you to rehabilitation camp where you meet Ruby, a sixteen years old teenage girl working. Thurmond, a camp which gathers few thousands of kids who have survived the age ten. There is a virus which either kills you when 10 years old and if you survive this virus, you get abilities which the government is scared of and you are sent to the camps run by military.

Kids are divided into colors according to how dangerous their abilities are considered. Ruby has survived for 6 years by hiding who she really is and which abilities she has. When the leaders of the camp are getting suspicious about her, she is in severe danger. Ruby manages to escape with the help from the member of the League which is a rebellion movement saving the kids. At least that is what they want her to believe. What they don't know is, that Ruby can read minds. Ruby escapes again and while doing her best to not getting caught, she meets a group of kids who are heading to the only place which should be safe for kids - East River.

Things I loved about the book:
I loved the settings - contemporary world where US was a country left out and cut off of any relationships to other countries. It was isolated. Canadians even built a wall on the border! It was horrifying and interesting to read what the country did to their own children: they gave them to authorities, they did not do a thing to save their kids from the camps where the most probable outcome was a death of their children. It was a country where kids were put to camps similar to concentration camps where kids had to do hard work and got killed. It's a world where you can trust no one, none at all - even children.

I admired the author of ending the first book with heart-wrenching cliffhanger. Can't wait to read what will happen in the next book. The world Alexandra Bracken created were dark and horrid and I loved it!

Characters:

I loved how Ruby grew from being a scared and damaged teenager to confident person who knew exactly what to do in order to protect herself and especially persons she loved. I enjoyed the dynamics of the relationship she had with Liam and how protective she was of her friends Zu and Chubs.

Liam was awesome! His hope and positive way of thinking were energizing! He is a guy who is easy to relate to and love.

What is fun about the characters in The Darkest Minds is that they are alive and colorful and fascinating. They all have stories to tell and they add a lot to the unpredictable plot!

Generally:

The Darkest Minds is a great book with wonderful and dark plot and fascinating characters! I truly enjoyed it and recommend it highly!
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Review originally posted on my book blog: https://afrolicthroughfiction.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-darkest-minds-by-alexandra-bracken/

RATED 4.5/5 STARS!

Since this was a reread for me, going back into this book all I could remember was how much I loved it the first time. And now the second time round, I feel like I love it even more.

I really like the backstory behind the book. As the synopsis tells us, it starts off as a disease, and once children hit the age of 10, they will most likely die. But the problem is if they don’t die. These kids end up with abilities, and the government becomes scared about what they can do, so they all get locked away in rehabilitation camps. From the beginning you can really see how Thurmond (one of the camps) has affected our main character, Ruby. She has no confidence and is afraid. It really does show how bad this place must have been.

As the story goes on, you see more of the world as it is. Although the descriptions didn’t blow me away, there were quite a lot of comparisons between the past and present that were hard-hitting. The happy memories from the time before everything went wrong overshadowed by the events of this dark world. But it was scarily realistic. The idea behind it was explained so well that I had no problem believing it could happen.

I loved the characters in this book. Loved them. They developed so well through the story, and each of their personalities were different but genuine. I especially liked how the friendships developed. each of the characters had to adapt to the world, and deal with anything that came their way. Gradually they all became braver and tougher, but still had their weaknesses that made them seem like real people.

The story really was addictive to read. The pacing was even, switching between action, the journey and finding out information. I read 300 pages of this book without even realizing it – and that’s saying something, since I usually read about 100 pages a day. It was a very clever story. There were so many different sides to it, and you never quite knew who were “the good guys” of the story.

"The darkest minds tend to hind behind the most unlikely faces."

I became really attached to the story. I sobbed at the ending, even though I’ve read it before and knew what was coming. I don’t understand how I didn’t buy the second book immediately after reading this one the first time! I feel like I need the second book right now…but I am getting it soon, so not to worry. I’m really looking forward to continuing this series!

Rated 4.5//5 stars!
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on 21 February 2015
The Darkest Minds is proper old school dystopia. There are work camps, segregation, prejudices against a minority group by society on the whole, and a faceless organisation as the villain. If you're anything like me, you LOVE dystopias like this. It just feels more genuine, more grounded in real history, and more likely to actually happen. Dystopias like this are harrowing and terrifying and ruthless - and The Darkest Minds is one of the best I've read in years.

The story revolves around Ruby, a girl kept apart from society in a labor camp like all the other kids her age - the ones that survived a deadly disease and were left with abilities like mind control, electrokinesis, telekinesis. When Ruby is broken out of her camp, she ends up joining a trio of kids that are on the run from their own camp and in search of a utopian haven, and a whole heck of dangerous shenanigans ensue.

It's your standard dystopia, but there's so much about it that stands out. The characters are awesome, for one. Ruby is shy and quiet and small, in and of herself. I like her evolution throughout the story, and can't actually wait to see how she'll progress. She's pretty tough, but completely ordinary despite her power. She could easily be your best friend or your neighbour or cousin. She doesn't feel fictional at all. The other characters as much the same, and I loved all of them. Minus Clancy, who I will violently beat to death with a rusted pole :)! Not to mention the relationships are just so heartwarming (thus, with the potential to be heartbreaking) to read and experience. Throw away your emotions, basically.

In short: an outstanding dystopia with hyper-real characters who will tear our your heart.
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on 8 April 2014
I loved every second of this book by young and talented author Alexandra Bracken. The characters are down to earth, funny and relatable which straight away makes the book easy and enjoyable to read, not the mention that our heroine Ruby is as brave and inspiring as any YA heroine should be, and the love interest Liam is one of the best male characters I've ever seen in a book - sweet, protective but also incredibly real.
The story was fast paced and gripping, with an interesting plot plus an ending that left me with quite a few questions - I ordered the sequel straight away!
Overall I loved this book and can't wait to continue the series. Good job, Alex! :)
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on 30 March 2016
What this book is about:

Ruby is a 10 year old living with her parents in Virginia and going to school every day like all the other kids do. When suddenly a deadly disease called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) hits the world, all the children that don’t die from it, end up with special abilities. The government decided to build camps and take each and every child that exhibits these abilities, in order to protect the rest of the world from their catastrophic powers. When Ruby is taken to one of these camps, she is scared of everyone around her but most of all, herself. And that’s because Ruby is one of the most dangerous ones

I thought I had outgrown the YA dystopians that are out there after reading the Divergent trilogy, but I have to admit that this book was fun! Let’s start with an overall description of what to expect in this story. In The Darkest Minds we follow Ruby in a dystopian Virginia in which all children are either dead or imprisoned at “rehabilitation camps”. We have a classic YA dystopian setting with the bad guys being the government and some smaller organisations that are against the government but still their motives are questionable. Along with Ruby we have Liam, Chubs and Zu (Suzume) who are the “good guys” and the major characters in the novel that are also friends of Ruby’s.

I don’t know why my brain works like that but I have to compare and contrast this book to the Divergent series. Anyway, Ruby was much more likeable to me that Tris was. Still don’t expect an amazing, never-before-seen female protagonist. This is your typical girl who has a very powerful…power (see Harry Potter, Tris, blah blah, she is special okay?) and she is one of the good ones. She never wants to do anything bad with her powers and goes through a journey to find her inner strength. We’ve seen all this before. Liam, Chubs and Zu were also a pleasant addition to the story and helped with the progression of the plot but they are also the typical co-protagonists that you expect to have. The love interest, the guy who pisses everyone of being a know-it-all but everybody still loves him, and the little girl that is badass but everybody sees as their little sister that needs to be protected.

The story plot itself is also not something new. I mean..it’s a dystopian. Government is bad (well, every government is bad but in dystopians it’s just over-the-top-bad) and teenagers are supposed to change the world. Still, it was kind of fun! The adventure.. the road trip kind-of-feel.. the way it resembled a zombie apocalypse (at least in my head)..I had a good time reading this book. I was actually flying through it and waiting to see what would happen next, even though most of my theories ended up being correct so..another predictable story with predictable characters.

Also, there was a part of this story that reminded me of The Knife of Never Letting Go (if you’ve read the Chaos Walking Trilogy I think you know which part I mean). The ended was quite satisfactory, fast-paced and made me keep reading with interest. If you get the feeling that this book is dragging on, it definitely picks up the pace during the last 100 pages or so. Personally, I didn’t think it was too slow but maybe because I enjoyed the “slow parts” as much as the fast ones. One big part that was lacking in information and content in my opinion was the world. I felt that the world-building was not there and since we are in a dystopian society I would have liked to learn more about how people actually live and what does the environment look like.

Overall, this was a pleasant surprise. A fun, quick read despite its 500 pages of length with funny, likeable characters and an interesting plot. If you’re a fan of YA fiction or dystopian books, I believe you’re going to have a great time reading this one. It might feel like it’s a bit slow in the middle though, but in my opinion the ending was quite fast-paced and overall satisfying.

You can see the review I posted on my blog here: [...]
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on 9 February 2016
In THE DARKEST MINDS an illness epidemic is causing children to either die or develop supernatural abilities. The government's reaction to that is to stick all survivors into correctional facilities. After five years, Ruby Daly manages to escape.

What intrigued me: Recommended by a friend. I had no idea what this is about.

Concentration camps in dystopian YA? Yikes.

THE DARKEST MINDS starts off with pages and pages of backstory from the protagonist Ruby's childhood to establish the world.
The concept is nothing that I haven't seen before (similar to SHATTER ME or THE PROGRAM), and it just didn't knock my socks off. Thurmond, the facility that Ruby is imprisoned in for the first 100 or so pages, is a very sloppy and uncanny version of this world's concentration camps. It's there for nothing but shock value and it doesn't even do a great job at that.

I was simply bored and contemplated quitting multiple times because there was just nothing interesting about this because Bracken does her best to withhold as much information as she can get away with. Ruby's experiences at Thurmond are nothing but a plot device, and this book would do so much better if it had just started right at Ruby's escape instead of torturing the reader with a whopping 80 pages of info dump world building backstory that's absolutely unnecessary to understand what's going on.

Your average road trip story

I didn't find the world of THE DARKEST MINDS extensive enough to really get to me - superhero-like abilities in dystopia are very difficult to pull off and require a lot of world building to get me really into it. I crave explanations, especially in dystopian novels and the lack thereof didn't really make this more enjoyable for me.
Essentially this is a "rebels on the road" kind of story. It really reads like an elongated road trip, and as charming as the characters are, the weak premise just can't carry this. It reminds me a lot of UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, which in my opinion had the same problem - too much pointless running around instead of actual story. I found it really boring and not really living up to the promising start at Thurmond. It goes all downhill from there.

Rating:
★★☆☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

You aren't really missing out if you skip this one. I did like the characters, but found the whole concept not groundbreaking enough to want to read the sequels.
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on 16 November 2015
Even though the beginning was a bit slow, explaining everything and whatnot, once Ruby found the guys I was absolutely gripped. The story was filled with light moments, making me laugh, and intense moments that kept me turning the pages for more.

I love Zu and Chubs,, but above all I love Liam and Ruby and what they have together.
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on 2 November 2014
Worth persevering with this one to get into it, as the 2nd book in the series is amazing and everything gets really pacey. This book is more of a slow burn, and you don't really get what is going on for a while or really like the characters, but it does get a lot better and it turns into a very good book, with a good plot and great characters. Book 2 is awesome, so fingers crossed for book 3 which is just out.
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on 5 January 2014
The book was well written and fast paced with an interesting story. I've given it 4 stars instead of 5 because there was just something missing that I can't put my finger on. Hopefully this is filled in the next book as the ending is fabulously written and thought out. There's not much in the way of romance but I forgot about that element because I was so engrossed in the story.
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