Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken

Ruby is one of the "lucky" ones, one of the small percentage of children who survived the Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN) virus that decimated the adolescent population of America.  Six years later Ruby is trying to stay under the radar because she is not the benign "green" that the PSF think she is, she is an "orange" and if she is caught she knows that she will be taken away like the other Yellow, Orange, and Red kids from her rehabilitation camp.  The past few years have been bearable, but only just, and with her unpredictable ability she takes every effort to avoid touching people and using her ability by accident - because she remembers only too well what her abilities can do to the people she loves.

When she is unexpectedly broken out of the camp it seems like a saving grace, but a chance moment shows her that not everything is as her rescuers would like her to believe and a split second decision sees her alone and adrift in the hostile world her country has become.  But Ruby is not alone for long, and she soon discovers that there is more to the rehabilitation camps than she thought, and that there was something particularly unusual about her own camp.  Keeping her Orange status a secret seems even more important than ever and with her rescuers and the skip tracers on her tail, it seems like only a matter of time before Ruby falls back into the hands of someone - or some group - that wants to use her for their own needs.  Her only hope is the legendary Slip Kid and the camp he has established at East River, a place where they can all be safe - but only if they can find it.  Ruby is learning quickly that nothing is what it seems in the real world, and that there are things worth fighting for.

The darkest minds is one of those (usually) rare books where even though I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed parts of it, I didn't actually like it that much.  At times it seems like the story is dragged out to make the story longer, while at other times it feels a little tangled and jumbled as if the editing process was rushed and something was cut out of the story without someone taking the time to smooth it back over and make it make sense.  The idea behind the story is both scary (the way people mess around with genetic research you can easily see a super virus escaping out into the world) and fascinating (we do only use a small percentage of our brain capacity) - but I found the execution a little shaky and would have loved to see the story tightened up, trimmed down, and had the action ratcheted up a novel. 

The darkest minds is one of those science fiction/fantasy novels with a tangled web of lies and star crossed lovers that is likely to appeal to readers who have enjoyed books like Twilight, but it lacks the story power and action to really appeal to teenage boys - which is a real shame because this story in other hands (or with the before mentioned better editing) could have had the pull of series like the Gatekeepers series by Anthony Horowitz, or The Maximum ride series by James Patterson.  I don't regret reading The darkest minds but it did leave a slightly bitter taste of disappointment when the potential promise of a gripping and thought provoking  story was not delivered - especially when the book is over 400 pages long and required a reasonable amount of commitment to finish.

If you like this book then try:
  • Raven's gate by Anthony Horowitz
  • Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
  • Maximum ride: The angel experiment by James Patterson
  • What's left of me by Kat Zhang
  • Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
  • The unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  • The hunt by Andrew Fukuda
  • Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Wake by Lisa McMann
  • Numbers by Rachel Ward
  • In the after by Demitria Lunetta
  • Altered by Jennifer Rush
  • Origin by Jessica Khoury
  • Every other day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Reviewed by Brilla

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