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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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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 24 August 2014
This review, and a lot more, can be found on my book blog: aobooks.wordpress.com

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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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 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 26 January 2016
I discovered this book while browsing through a small little book store during my holiday to Canada. All I can say is why did I never hear about this book sooner because I absolutely loved it! Even if the end did leave me heartbroken and itching for more.

The story begins with a ten year old Ruby watching the harsh treatment of the Thurmond camps children. All gifted with a unique ability, they are colour coded based on their powers, but when she witness the cruel conditions those in her class must face, she someone how convinces the scientist assigned to her that she is nothing more than a harmless green with a photographic memory.

But six years later, the government begin new tests, ones designed to catch those kids who slipped through the cracks. Now with her secret out Ruby must put her trust in others if she is too escape. But with everyone wanting to use her for her rare abilities, Ruby is torn over who to trust. Only when she teams up with others like her does she begin to feel safe, but the question is, are they safe from her? Unable to control her powers, she fears she is destined to spend the rest of her life ostracised from her friends but when news spreads that another with her abilities still lives, Ruby will risk all to seek them out. What she finds is more danger, more heartache and a betrayal that just might put an end to her and those like her completely.

I really enjoyed this book. With the exception of a couple of chapters that I felt dragged a little, the story pretty much kept me immersed all the way through with every other scene ending on a cliffhanger. I just couldn't stop turning the pages.

Ruby makes an interesting heroine as despite being one of the most powerful people in the whole story, she fears her abilities and is unable to control them. Also with so many years spent locked behind the walls of camp Thurmond she has the limited education of a ten year old and having been segregated from boys, I thought it was adorable how she had no idea how to interact with them. Watching her grow from the naive, weak willed girl into a decisive and powerful women was thrilling.

Other characters such as Liam, Zu and chubs all had their own unique, individual appeal and I loved them all. Particularly Liam as he plays a kind and devote love interest and I don’t know any girl who could resist falling for his shy flirting. Zu and Chubs also added intrigue to the story with their unknown pasts and distinct personalities.

Plot wise the book is action based and generally moves at a pretty fast pace with back story unfolding as and when needed. The storyline often keeps you guessing and my only niggle with the book is the lack of adults in it. I know they exist within the world of the book but as the kids drive around from place to place, I couldn't help but wonder why there wasn't more of them. I was also curious to know what everyone else was doing during this out break of disease and why the kids became so feared.

Despite those passing thoughts, these problems did not take away my enjoyment of the story. Although I am hoping some of these issues will be addressed in the next book which honestly, I cannot wait to start. Especially as the ending of the book was so emotional and dramatic.

I give The Darkest Minds 4 Stars! Great Read for all those who enjoy dystopians!
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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 7 August 2015
A generous 2,5 star rating!
While being very excited about this one, it didn't meet my expectations. I really loved the premise of this book, the idea of all these dangerously powerful teenagers sounded so enticing, and yet, I found the story dragging on. Nothing much happened really, and the MC seemed mostly frightened and staggeringly powerless, and by her own making nonetheless. What I'm getting at, is the fact that this MC isn't a normal teen, suddenly and conveniently emerging into an all-powerful one-man army, but a very powerful and unusual teen in a setting where having powerful abilities is plausible.

Most of the story was of a bunch of kids thrown together on a rather uneventful road trip, to find some "promised haven". There was a weird instant romance between two MCs who may both have been most attracted to the concept of being involved and less to each other. They could be great friends though... Then they meet some powerful mastermind kid, and while he could have held some real attractiveness, he 180s into an absolute creep, and that was it.. Better luck in the next book!

What saddened me the most was my lacking to connect with, and care for, Ruby, after she left her family. Yet, I did find it heartbreaking that her parents acted as detached as they did.. I did like the two side characters, Zu and Chubs, and I liked Brackens idea - the idea is actually rather brilliant! - I just wish the story had been more compelling. And it isn't that I can't see a point in letting a character ease into the role of a kick-ass avenger, I just wish, I hadn't been worn-out before getting anywhere near that point.

After finishing this book, I went on to read the novella, In Time. The novella is definitely a nice addition, but doubt I'll ever convince myself to read the actual sequel.
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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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