Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Darkest Minds

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The Darkest Minds
Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Publication date: December 18th 2012
by Disney Hyperion


When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has 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.

*A copy was provided by Disney Hyperion for review purposes*
Going into the Darkest Minds, I didn’t really know what to expect. With so many dystopians out there there are quite a few that simply don’t live up to the genre. However, Alexandra brings in a new and exciting dystopian novel with mysterious diseases, abilities, merciless camps; basically the apocalypse with a Heroes-like flare that becomes quite exhilarating.

Mind reading, mind control, memory manipulation, telekinesis; these are the powers that teenagers are suddenly capable of in this world, that is, if they don’t die suddenly in their tween years. We go into this story completely blind. Alexandra has a very show rather than tell writing style and while it can be a little confusing at first, I really enjoyed the slow and steady way we’re dipped into her world. I also appreciate an author that assumes her readers are intelligent enough to discern what she’s showing us. Too often have I despised books due to repetitive observations and frequent recapitulations to make sure we are getting it. It goes without saying, you have to pay attention during this world building. It’s not spelled out for us, and it’s amazing the way we’re left to build it up in our minds, piece by piece.

The same goes for Ruby: While the story is told through her point-of-view, we don’t know who she is or what has happened to her prior to the first page of this novel. We have to be patient to get her story, which I promise is both heartbreaking and hopeful. While I wouldn’t call her particularly likeable, she doesn’t fail to engage at every page as her voice is very easy to identify with, and being in her head is at one baffling and fascinating. She is often as much of a mystery to herself as she is to us. The ones walking by her side also fills us with intrigue as we’re compelled to uncover their unique abilities and the insecurities that come along with. These people all have their very own piece in this story with pasts and ideals for some kind of future in this cruel world.

The future doesn’t look too bright, however, as the whole book is spent learning how horrible the adults have been dealing with these new sudden abilities. This is soon followed by a long lasting chase which leads to more questions, lots of uncertainties, and definite skepticism. Despite being a very active plot that keeps up quite a bit of suspense combined with a constant feeling of uneasiness, the pacing is kept natural. This not only allows us time to decipher our characters, but also gives us the opportunity to truly understand the gravity of the world they now have to suffer.

The romance is not the book’s strongest point. For the most part, it’s non existent–I, for one, more than welcome a plot motivated on something other than romance. But all of a sudden, it’s there, all around. The romance itself is not bad, it’s not even unexpected, just its sudden importance in the plot can be disorienting.

This is not a fluffy novel, Alexandra depicts a world that is dark and violent. It’s a slow unveiling of a world you would never want to experience. For fans of dystopians described such as this, there is plenty to fear in The Darkest Minds!

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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36 Responses to “Review: The Darkest Minds”

  1. Christina

    Eeeeh! Four stars from both you AND Kara? *dances* Okay, so I think I need to fit this into my reading schedule.

    Also, Heroes-like flare? I totally love the IDEA of that show. Unfortunately, it was awful. Sigh. I hope the book taps into its potential!

  2. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Ohh this one sounds really good. I featured it as my WoW way back and have been pining to get my hands on it. I love that you slowly get details of the world and aren’t just plowed with info dumps here and there. A random appearing romance? hmmm hopefully that doesn’t annoy me! Awesome review!

  3. Amy

    This sounds really good. The world building sound like it’s really great. That’s really weird that the romance just seems to appear, but it really sounds like an awesome book!! Fab review darling!!

  4. Giselle

    @Christina: I agree, although I did like the first season, they went way too far with it and kind of lost all the awesomeness of the show!

    @Jenni: The romance is not really random as I could see it coming, it’s that all of sudden, it’s ALL ABOUT the romance. So it’s like the plot did a 180. It wasn’t really annoying though I still liked it, it was just weird I guess.

  5. Nick

    I’ve been wanting to read this book since the longest time now! I’m glad to hear that it’s an entertaining book and doesn’t fail as a dystopian. I’m intrigued by the world building and the main character seems very interesting! And yay for a plot-driven story!
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  6. Ali @ Ginger-read

    Another awesome review! I’ve heard great things about this one and nice to see another one where the romance is more in the ‘backseat’. Will be reading it for my Dystopian challenge next year.

  7. Ashley

    Nice review Giselle! I literally *just* finished reading this book too LOL! I had some very similar thoughts about the book. But unfortunately I got kind of bored somewhere between the end of the beginning and the end of the middle. But things definitely picked up for me later on! The end was pretty epic.

    I wish we got more information on the powers though. I feel like the book was all about fighting for rights and freedom, but no one seemed to care about where the powers came from! I’d really be interested to learn more about that.

  8. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I love romance but can overlook it for a good plot. I do find it weird that it isn’t a big think until the end but that might be good to leave more room for the world building. It sounds different and more unique than I expected from the synopsis. Curious to learn Ruby’s story and how the adults are handling these changes and why they fear them so much.

  9. Soma Rostam

    Well, this book is definitely interesting. I love it when authors describe dark, creepy worlds and they let you do a slight world building of your own. I don’t like it when authors tell you everything about the world and the characters. I want room for imagination, and this novel looks like it accomplishes that.
    I am adding this to my TBR.
    GREAT review, Giselle
    Your CONSTANT blog reader,

  10. Sam

    I really enjoyed Bracken’s Brightly Woven so I’m very excited about this book! All though I do enjoy romance, I’d rather it be kept to a minimum or not present at all if it has no real significance in the book. This sounds great otherwise, especially with the mention of mind control and telekinesis and all that cool stuff. Great review!

  11. Jesse Burgoyne

    Sometimes it’s nice to read about a not-quite-likable character. I also like the idea of a slow building world. That’s the best part of dystopians as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure how I feel about the sudden romance though. Anyway, great review! I didn’t have much of a desire to read this before, but now I’m really interested in it 🙂

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  12. Megan K.

    This book is already on my wishlist, but after your review, I want to read it all the more! I’m so glad to hear that THE DARKEST MINDS lived up to your expectations and that it isn’t a fluffy book. Really, dark books are the best when they are expected. Ruby sounds like a fascinating character, too.

    Awesome review, Giselle! You make this book sound all the more intriguing. 🙂 Can’t wait to get my hands on this!

  13. Renae

    I was definitely not a fan of Bracken’s debut novel, but it seems like everyone really liked this one, even people who didn’t enjoy Brightly Woven. It is, though, a shame to hear that Bracken treated her romance so weirdly.

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  15. Leanne Yang

    This book sounds brilliant! I’ve read quite a few dystopians, but none about telekinesis, mind reading/control. Wow!! I actually love things like this, mind controlling and stuff, haha. Thanks for the review!

  16. Candace

    I really look forward to reading this as I loved her other book. I think I’m a bit burned out on dystopian for this year but I definitely will be wanting to read this next year so I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  17. Kara_Malinczak

    I agree with your review, Giselle. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love the positive reviews this one is getting. I didn’t particularly like Ruby, but I enjoyed the writing and plot in this one very much. Great review.

  18. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    Hmmm. I keep seeing this book around, and wondering if it’s worth a read. I suspect it is! I admit, I didn’t know a whole lot about it, so it definitely seems like there’s more to it than I originally imagined. And I think it might be refreshing to read a book that ISN’T all about the romance!

    Great review, Giselle – you’ve got me actually wanting to read this one.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  19. Alexa

    I am so excited to read this book! It looks really good, and I do love that it’s darker than most reads. For some reason, during the winter, I gravitate towards this kind of book…

  20. Jaime Lester

    I am so very happy that you liked this book. It has been on my TBR ASAP since I first saw the cover. I am even more excited about it now. I had been getting pretty tired of dystopians lately but I think I will enjoy this one. Thanks for the review!

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