“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.”
Alexandra Bracken’s dystopian novel “The Darkest Minds” was first published in 2012, at a time when the young adult craze was hitting its peak in written form. To be honest I placed this book on hold at the library numerous times before finally reading it this week. I cannot believe I waited so long!! I am a huge fan of dystopian stories and this can easily be compared to the brilliance of “The Hunger Games”.
Bracken creates a world which is dark and terrifying and her descriptions make it come to life. The story is told in the first person, by Ruby, a young girl growing up in what appears to be a normal life. But, in one instant everything changes, an unknown virus spreads across the United States, causing children to die, and those who survive are not the same as they once were. The survivors develop powers (later known as Psi) that have never been seen before. As the country tries to understand what is going on, fear and panic rule decisions, and the government takes the extreme action of moving all kids to “camps”, where they can be monitored and tested.
“It wasn’t until that night, as I lay awake in my bunk, that I realized I would only ever have one chance to run-and I hadn’t taken it.”
I found the depiction of this world frightening as it is reminiscent of our own histories and also a reality that is not so far off. When this novel was written the idea of walls around the United States would have been a joke, but now…
Ruby is 10 years old when she is transferred to Thurmond, a camp where the kids are separated based on their abilities. Each ability is identified by a colour: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. Yellow, orange and red are seen as the most dangerous, and are quickly separated, and taken away from the other kids. At Thurmond the biggest lie is the Government is working on a possible rehabilitation program, one that has been sold to the rest of the country, so they do not have to face the horror that they willingly let their kids be imprisoned.
When you sent me to school that morning, I thought you loved me. But now I see you for what you are. You called me a monster and a freak. But you’re the one who raised me.”
At age 15, Ruby has found a way to survive at Thurmond, but things can never remain status quo, and soon a new threat is unleashed to help identify any kids who were classified into the wrong colour group, and this could spell disaster for Ruby.
The characters in this novel are well developed and you will experience their emotions as they try to survive in this new world. Ruby is supported by four other man characters: Chubs, Liam, Zuzume, and Clancy. I found them relatable and endearing. I mean what is not to like about a character named Chubs who is a skinny, African American, geek. Liam is the male support to Ruby and provides a look into the struggles of her powers in every aspect of life. Zuzume is a young girl with a power stronger than most, and she saves the group more than a few times. And finally Clancy, Clancy is an antagonist and I found my feelings ebbed and flowed quickly in relation to him.
“I’m a monster, you know. I’m one of the dangerous ones.” “No you aren’t you’re one of us.”
One of the things I like most about any good book is when every detail has a purpose, nothing is thrown in for fun, with no meaning, and Alexandra Bracken does that masterfully in this novel. From her use of colours, to the mention of a particular story, to the numbers used, nothing is by chance and it all provides amazing foreshadowing and suspense that had me buying the next book right after finishing this. This series is a trilogy and a separate book of novellas from the same world.
“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a thousand Enemies, I thought, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning.
Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people shall never be destroyed.”
This book is being developed into a full feature length film, slated for release on August 3, 2018 by 20th Century Fox. The previews look promising and my hope is the film can do justice to the amazing world building and character development, done in the novel. Take a look here for the preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN8o_E_f9FQ