Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

10576365The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Published: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Pages: 488

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.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby 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 its mysterious leader. But there are 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, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

When I finally decided to start reading The Darkest Minds, it was already three years after it first had been published. In most cases, it doesn't affect my opinion on a book. However, when a book is being surrounded by so much hype ever since it came out, it surprisingly does. This wasn't the amazing action-packed dystopian I needed it to be.

Despite my several issues with this book, there were still some very good things that made me rate it three stars. For example, there is no denying my love for the haunting world. Author Alexandra Bracken made it fit perfectly into the dystopian genre by using common elements such as diseases, evil governments and mysterious abilities. I thought I'd grown tired of these kind of books a long time ago, but Bracken proves me wrong. Although it took a while for me to finally settle into the world, it came across as believable. I love that about a dystopian. They are, after all, books where the world is an absolute focus and must be done right.

Unfortunately, there's always two sides to a coin. Even if my issues with the world are very limited. Starting off, I had quite some trouble with figuring out what each colour meant and what they exactly did. Call me retarded, but I did not think it was a smart choice to name abilities after colours, as I kept struggling with them until halfway through. Another personal matter, was the rehabilitation camp. This close relative of the concentration camps was by far something that added some darkness and serious topics into the book. It was simply captivating, but also controversial at the same time. I may have had some trouble with it just because it was so unexpected, to say the least. Let's say I'd seen enough to get a perfectly clear image of Ruby's tortured past.

I never expected to dislike Ruby as a character, even if I do. Because all the hype surrounding the book, I thought loving her would be easy because of her bold attitude and strong personality. Nothing like that happened. Ruby turned out to be nothing but a weak and whiny character. I hold no grudges against weak characters, since they are most likely the ones who surprise you in the end. I hope she will fit into this category, as I was mostly irritated with her in this book. She kept complaining and getting hurt, and believing she's the biggest "monster" of them all. After discovering bits and pieces of her past, I get where she is coming from, however it still does not qualify as an excuse for whining all the way through the five hundred pages.

The other characters started out quite meh for me. They were kind of thrown in there like I simply had to deal with them for the rest of the series. As the story progressed, my opinion changed very quickly. All the layers of their personality started to show, revealing who they really were underneath. In the end, they are just scared kids on the run, looking for a future together. It was really a journey for me that paid off. All the others, ranging from side characters to love interests, surprised me in a pleasant way. Depth was brought to their characters through backstories I loved. In the end, I couldn't help but fall for the characters they really were. I adored the dynamics between the trio. Bracken made it really believable and showed me many times how much they cared for each other. Their strong friendship was the light touch to this book I absolutely needed. Clancey, on the other hand, was a real twist to this book. Without giving away too much, I'd suggest you keep your eyes out for this character. He's intriguing, mysterious, and a pleasant surprise.

The overall pace and plot of this book, weren't all too great to be honest. Instead of the action-packed book I'd expected it to be, it was nothing but a bunch of kids who traveled around and didn't do much. It wasn't until the second half that things started happening. Though some of the action-scenes were still a bit on the annoying side, a lot of my issues regarding the plot and pace faded away. No one was still doing anything, yet it didn't feel like that anymore. Tension started to build up slowly but steady, and I found myself more and more interest in what would happen next. The ending left me open-mouthed, which is my main reason for continuing the series. It holds some strong potential, and I have to find out myself if it is really worth it in the end. For now, I do think so.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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