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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Darkest Minds
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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!


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!


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!


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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2014
This review, and a lot more, can be found on my book blog:

This is probably the strongest book I have read this year. It is completely wonderful, funny, exciting, shocking and FREAKING HEARTBREAKING! I really like how this book had kind of a professional feel over it. It was probably Alexandra Bracken’s writing, because it was so deep and really got its way to your heart and mind. Yes, this is a young adult book. And yes, it is a fun and lovable book. But it still was written and told so professionally. It was also a very dark book, in a a way. It was sad, people had miserable pasts (few didn’t), some died, others had to live with the memory of them (some didn’t). The Darkest Minds, or most importantly Alexandra Bracken, really found her way into my heart. Which is why I will never forget this book.

“They were never scared of the kids who might die, or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us – the ones who lived.”

The characters in this book were fantastic! I really loved Liam, Chubs and Zu. They were great, funny and I love how they all had to kind of warm up to Ruby entering their lives. Especially Chubs. He was really rude and annoyed me in the beginning of the book, but I was never really worried about that. He is such a cool dude and absolutely hilarious! Zu is the sweet, little sister you wish you always had. I adored her for being who she was, but it was so sad to read about a little kid having to go through all of the s*** that happens in the book. Ruby was also an amazing character and a really strong female protagonist. I did understand why she was so afraid, and I did get why she acted like she did. I love her for it, but that makes it all so much worse and heartbreaking.

“But inside or out, I was alone, and I was beginning to wonder if I always had been, if I always would be.”

Then we have Liam. And yes, he does need a whole paragraph for himself. Liam is the sweetest guy I remember ever having read about. Don’t worry, he is not lame or like a boring, sweet, weird friend of yours. He does have that edge to him and I love how he is always willing to take one for the team. Liam is also quite hilarious and has this very odd sense of humor, which I think, out of all of them, only Ruby gets.

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

The ending is hard. Like, really, “heartbreaking, sobbing, remember it forever”- hard. It caugh me by surprise and destroyed me, but I though the ending was what it needed to be, nothing more or nothing less. It was the perfect ending to this book, but not the perfect ending to this trilogy. Because I am having a strong feeling that it is going to come back and haunt us… What made that ending even worse is the wonderful story Liam tells before ……… happens. I felt like crying and I did not want the book to end so sudden. It sort of had a cliffhanger, but it was a complete book in itself at the same time.

I really recommend this book to anyone who wants an action filled adventure, with lots of awesome characters and an unexpected villain. Even though I wish the romance was more in focus, I really liked it too. The romance isn’t straight forward all the time and there is a lot of romantic tension in the air, which I love!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 31 July 2015
Ruby caught a sickness that killed a majority of her class, and children both older and younger than her. She was one of the lucky ones...except she wasn't so lucky because now she's been sent to a special camp because of the abilities the sickness has given her and hundreds of other survivors, all children.

Years later, Ruby is still stuck in the camp until she's suddenly broken out by a kindly doctor. Ruby's different to the other children, her abilities are more dangerous and soon she discover's she could be used for all kinds of dangerous anti-government activities. On the run, Ruby meets other children like her and soon discovers that true friendship and kindness can still exist.

I really loved this book. It completely kept me on the edge of my seat, I had no idea what was coming around the corner which made me love it and hate it at the same time. For some reason, I always thought this book was something to do with fey or demons, I think because of the cover and the strange symbol, so I was pleasantly surprised when it ended up being more of a dystopian tale.

I felt the premise of this book was very solid, from the build-up of the sickness to when Ruby ended up in camp. The fear, the colour sorting and the brief glimpses of Ruby's abilities. The camps reminded me very much of WW2 concentration camps from the designated uniforms, the work and the bullying from the guards. Which, I can only presume, was done on purpose.

There was so much suspense in this book. I never knew who Ruby could really trust, from Cate and Rob, plus yucky Michael, to Liam and grumpy Chubs (who ended up being a sweetie). I really loved the friendship that formed between this gang, not to mention the friendship that was already existing between Zu, Liam and Chubs. They may be my new favourite buddy group in a novel for the time being.

Clancy Grey was such a mystery for me. I didn't know if he was going to end up causing another love triangle or if he was someone just not to be trusted. For a while, it almost seemed like his Orange powers were seeping out of the page and affecting me! The whole time the gang were at East River, I felt like the whole thing was a bomb waiting to go off. It was so worrying and really kept me on the edge of my seat!

The ending was great and heartbreaking (it reminded me a little bit of Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood) and I can't wait to continue on this adventure!
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on 9 April 2015
When I read the prologue I was hooked. Then I read the first chapter and was instantly loving it. Knowing this I couldn’t imagine what the rest of the book would be like and how good it’d be. Thankfully, the book lived up to my expectations of a great book but a little underwhelming action wise. There were action scenes, but they just felt a little calm but other than that - the characters, the plot line, the journey was brilliant. Also the idea of the book is amazing. I do recommend this if the four star rating hasn’t convined you. It’s dark but light and funny too. The relationships do develop and I particulary liked the shift in Ruby’s and Chub’s friendship! Go pick this one up guys!

Spoilery parts now!

I want to touch on the fact that Ruby isn’t a brave character. Yes, thoughout the book she does become more brave but from the start we clearly know from Sam that she isn’t and that’s okay. Ruby is wary of what she does because of what she is. I don’t expect a character to be brave right off the bat having been trapped in a scary camp. What was weird was how caring she was with others, I didn’t expect that because I thought Thurmond would somehow break her, make her have trust issues (which we do see briefly) but nevertheless she gets along with people.

Another thing is Liam and Ruby’s romance. It wasn’t instant but it felt like they trusted each other too soon. For the first couple of chapters she didn’t let anyone touch her, they were still strangers and she was unsure. But that merged into her confiding in Liam, touching him and caring that I kind of missed the point where they both agreed they liked each other. They didn’t say a thing, it was a bit of hand holding, face carressing and then we were reading about them as a couple. I’m not complaining - it wasn’t instant but just that I missed the exact point where it was acknowledged they seriously had feelings for each other. That doesn’t mean that I was okay with the ending. THAT WAS NOT OKAY!

I like Liam. He’s not a brooding and grumpy male protagonist that is so conventional in YA books. Chubs kinda has that role at first but I like that funny guy. Liam is sweet, kind and so optimistic. He was so nice to read about.
I’m glad that Ruby isn’t a red. Reds are at the top of the hierachy and Oranges are next but when the Reds were put into an army (or they were thought to have been killed) that placed Ruby at the top. So I liked was Alexandra did there, eliminating the most dangerous which placed Ruby as the most dangerous making her the conventional ‘chosen one’.

I didn’t fully expect the book to end like that but at the same time, I kind of knew she’d erase Liam’s memories of herself at some point. I mean, I knew it would happen whether it was in the first book or the sequels but I think that ending would have been best for the second book since there’d have been more character development and feelings for both the reader and the characters.
Anyhoo, I really did love this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on NEVER FADE!
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on 9 February 2015
The Darkest Minds is a thrilling story set in a dystopian world; where society is splitting at the seams. It’s a book I can honestly say, hand on heart that I found was amazingly written and kept me hooked until the end. This book is the first of a trilogy and it takes the reader on a journey where they will feel elated, heart wrenched and all the while not being able to turn the pages fast enough.
In the America, in which the book is set, it is seen that societies children, once they hit the age of 10, either die or develop dangerous abilities which are labelled by colour. Each power enables them to be either, Telekinetic (The Blues), Intelligent (The Greens), Mind controlling (The Oranges,) Pyrokinesis – the ability to control fire (The Reds) or the ability to interfere with technology (The Yellows). Children are either left to their own devices by their parents, hidden by family, or sent to the barbaric rehabilitation camps where they are tested on, abused and made to work.
The story follows a girl named Ruby, who when she “woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed”, like most her age, developed the ‘disease’ (IAAN – as referred to in the book). She has done something to her parent’s minds. Rewired them. They cannot remember her. She is sent to one of the worst camps the day after her tenth birthday. Thurmond.
She is now 16. Six years of living in wretched conditions, she is finally given an opportunity to escape, with the help of The Children’s League. Whom it seems have her best interests at heart. They tell her she is one of the dangerous ones and that they will help her control her abilities – to contain them so she does not hurt the ones she loves most, if in return she helps them achieve their main goal. Destroy the camps. However she soon learns that some people on The League may not all have the same intentions, Ruby begins to see that she must escape them, and before she falls in too deep.
So she does exactly that, she takes the first opportunity she has to just run. Barely escaping with her life, she comes across a group of kids just like her. Liam, whom it seems is the group leader, just can’t help but fall for Ruby, but after seeing how badly she affected her parents she can’t risk letting her feeling get in the way of her second chance of living. With the help of her friends she will learn how to hope, how to trust and how to love.
Together their main goal is to get to East River – a port in a storm. Their only chance of finding their families. They are told ‘The Slip Kid’ will help them, told he is a genius, and like her is one of the dangerous ones. She needs to find him; Needs to know how to rule her ability; as she is falling for Liam more and more every day.
Alexandra Bracken has created a shocking dystopian world. It keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end; it’s a riveting, emotional and haunting read. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.
I dare you to stop reading!
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on 15 January 2015
The Darkest Minds has a 4.31 rating on Goodreads, which would generally mean the book is pretty darn fantastic, an opinion a lot of reviewers/BookTubers seem to share. But, whilst I enjoyed the book, there were quite a few things that kept me from getting fully invested in Ruby's story, resulting in me giving the book 3.5*.

Bracken's world building seemed very scattered and it was quite difficult for me to fit together a complete picture in my head of this society she was trying to show. There were so many aspects that needed to be conveyed, the origins of the kid's abilities, the different colors, the multiple organizations trying to gain control, the psi's and the Children's League and it took about half the book for all of these things to have been clearly displayed (and it wasn't a 'not knowing enhances the story' kind of situation but a 'who are they again and why are they doing that?' kind of situation). The prose and transitions also tended to be a bit scattered/incomplete.

Some of the basic conclusions the society had made didn't make sense. Why were Oranges in chains but not Blues? I mean, Blues could throw all the guards into a brick wall with just their minds and easily escape a camp this way and yet no-one at all seems to have considered the possibility of this being a threat. Also why is no-one questioning the origins of the powers more? Why aren't scientists performing tests?

There were a lot of good parts to this book. Most dystopians now are getting quite similar but Bracken managed to bring a new idea to the table and it really paid off. And THAT ENDING. That is the exact kind of ending I like. The characters were were really great. I particularly loved Chubs and Zu. I just found it hard to enjoy it as much as everyone else seemed to, especially considering it's a story containing superpowered humans, which I generally love.
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on 21 December 2014
on’t get me wrong, I really really like this book. Even love it. The entire premise is so imaginative, the characters are dynamic and the plot is intriguing. All around full stars sort of book, but I’ve got some problems with the execution and Bracken’s writing that made the rating go down on this one. This worst thing about the book was probably how hard the action scenes were to follow, I practically had no idea what was going on in any of them until the aftermath. Because of this, I pretty much didn’t really get anything that was happening during the climatic part of the novel, but I got enough grasps of it to understand the ending. There was also an over-abundance of info dumping at the start, which lead onto the problem that Bracken couldn’t find a line between hiding information from the reader and telling us things. It made things confusing, but not so confusing that you couldn’t understand the plot and relationships between characters. Also, the book wasn’t as gruesome as it should have been. But then maybe I’m just too used to gruesome things for my own good!

Now, on a positive note, the best things about the book outweigh the bad things about it, especially when considering that the bad things are most likely just things that come with skill and experience, and hopefully Bracken will develop her writing skills over the course of this trilogy. But basically, Bracken has an amazing plot, premise and characters which all hold the story up really well, even with some of the writing problems.

The characters are probably my most favourite part of the book. Ruby has lived in a hard labour camp for six years of her life because of a virus that leaves all children and teenagers with special mind abilities (which are seriously bloody awesome). Ruby isn’t really like your typical dystopian heroine, aside from the fact that she cares a lot about other people, which is a basic in any heroine at all. Ruby is relatable to the shy, reserved type of person and her development is pretty good, too. As well as having an unconventional heroine, Liam, the male protagonist, is also different from other book-boys, who’re all hunky or British or both. Liam is a lovely, friendly guy and it’s refreshing. Other main characters like Chubs and Zu are very, very likeable too. I couldn’t choose which is my favourite character, cause I just love them all so much!

Thinking about the actual premise of the book, I’m pretty much obsessed. The separation of the different mind abilities into colours (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue) is such a cool idea and I love seeing how different characters use their abilities. I can’t wait to see how this plot is developed over the next two books, especially because of the crazy cliffhanger at the end of this one!
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on 3 December 2014
What do I say about this book?...I don’t really have any words other than wow! What a book!

I found this book on one of my many Amazon browses for new reads and added it to my wish list. It was only a few weeks later that I read reviews on the book that spurred me on to actually purchase it. I am so glad I did!

This is one of the best books I have read this year (and I have read a lot of books) from the first page I loved it, it was different, and it felt completely fresh and new. The main female protagonist Ruby is introduced straight away and you are quickly absorbed into her heart breaking story. I am going to contain a portion of the blurb just so you get the concept of the book:

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.

Straight away from reading this I had to know what was happening, where the story would go. This book is written so well, the detail, description and the pull into the pages is incredible. You really feel for Ruby and all the other characters, you cannot believe something so horrific is happening to these children, and how parents are willingly handing their children over like this. There is almost a feel of horror throughout the book, but not the scary sort of horror, but shock at the treatment of these children, and how they are perceived and locked up.

Ruby is the main protagonist and we follow her journey right from the start, before she got her abilities, straight up to her first day at ‘rehabilitation camp’ . The fear radiates off Ruby for the entirety off this book, the fear of what she could do, the fear of hurting those around her, and the fear of the situation she is in. Her character grows stronger the more she starts to understand her powers, not quite controlling them, but having a better awareness of the feelings generated from it. Ruby is a great character, hearing the story of how she ended up sent to Thurmond was truly heart breaking.

We also follow the characters Liam, Chubs and Zu, three escapees from another rehabilitation camp. Liam being the leader of the group, Chubs the knowledgeable medical one who is increasingly annoying throughout the book, and little Zu, a young girl put through some terrifying experiences, leaving her mute and afraid of her own shadow. I loved the development between Ruby and Zu’s character, it was incredibly sweet and reassuring that even within these dark times, it hadn't crushed their spirits or want, to take care and help Zu be as normal a child she could possibly be in the current situation. Chubs, was an incredibly annoying character, who never took to Ruby, he saw her as a danger to the group, bringing trouble with her wherever she goes. However with gradual development you see another side to him, and you soften to his characters, understanding the good intentions he really has. A true credit to Alexandra’s writing with these characters.

Liam was another great character; he took to the role of a leader amazingly. Yet was forever full of turmoil, protecting the group, feeling guilty at being the ring leader of the mass breakout and with so many losing their lives because of it, and generally because he couldn't quite give them what he promised them yet. The development between him and Ruby was amazing, it wasn't in your face, it was a subtle and slow burn, it left you uncertain of how it would pan out. But you loved it all the same. I really felt his guilt and anguish throughout and Alexandra Bracken really enabled us to understand this character whilst viewing him from Ruby’s POV.

Finally the character to save for last. Clancy Gray....i really feel like i shouldn't say too much about him for those who may actually want to read this book and decide for themselves first hand on what they think of him. But i have never hated a character as much as this...This guy makes Draco Malfoy look like a saint! A glorified angelic saint at that! Alexandra Bracken was very clever in the development and twist with this character and i am intrigued as to how she will continue it throughout the rest of the series.

The Darkest Minds is truly an amazing book; it creates a detailed dystopian world of complete chaos and fear. The book is beautifully written, bringing in that slightest bit of humour and sarcasm to help lighten the many darker moments in it. However the ending left me heartbroken; I have never finished a book, put it down and wailed ‘No!! I need to know what happens!’ as drastically as i did when I finished this. Safe to say the next book, Never Fade is in the post and on its way to me as we speak and I really cannot wait!

I thoroughly recommend this book if you like action, adventure and dystopian novels. Alexandra Bracken is a remarkable author and i just cannot wait to see what she brings in the next book. I need to know now!!!!!
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