First in The Darkest Minds series
By Alexandra Bracken
Available now from Disney Hyperion
Read my review of BRIGHTLY WOVEN
UNSPOKEN has been supplanted. I thought it would be the cruelest ending of the year, but at the last minute Alexandra Bracken's THE DARKEST MINDS snuck in. When THE DARKEST MINDS ends, things are not going the heroes' way. I cannot wait to read the next book and see how they make it through.
In the world of THE DARKEST MINDS, a plague swept through the US that killed the majority of children between the ages of ten and eighteen. The ones left behind all had psychic powers. Ruby is an Orange - she can control the minds of other people. She managed to survive the purging of the Oranges by convincing the doctor who classified her that she was a harmless Green. But something happens to reveal her, forcing her to run from the camp before she is killed.
There are two aspects of the premise that I would normally hate. A plague localized to the US that only affects a certain age group? Luckily, Bracken doesn't attempt a scientific explanation and there are so many conspiracies that I can assume the plague will be revealed as something nefarious. The second thing is that the parents willingly give their children up to camps where they are horribly treated. Bracken tries to justify this - most people are too concerned with the fact the country is broke, everyone thinks the camps are places where the kids are cured, and so on. There are horrible holes in each of the explanations, but I was enjoying the world Bracken created enough to go with it.
Ruby ends up bonding with three other kids on the run: Liam, Chubs, and Zu. Liam is one of the best love interests of the year. One character refers to him as "Pollyanna," which is very accurate. He has the optimism and idealism needed to inspire Ruby. She's survived for years when others wouldn't, but she needs to fight if she's ever going to do more than just survive. But there's no reason to fight if you don't have hope. I loved the dynamic between the group too. They really bond into a family, although it takes Ruby awhile to be accepted. It's a nice blend of realistic and heartwarming. (THE DARKEST MINDS needs all the scraps of heartwarming it can get.)
THE DARKEST MINDS won't be for everyone. It can get dark and bleak. There are few characters worthy of trust. The deck is stacked against Ruby and the other psychics, and they have few means of bettering their lives despite their powers. But I believe she and her friends can make it and change the world. (Once they decide they want to change the world, that is.) I'll definitely be following this series to see what happens next.