Book Review: The Darkest Minds

Book Review: The Darkest MindsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on December 18, 2012
Pages: 488
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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 is a dark tale, following the survival of a group of teens in a world that calls them dangerous monsters. As with any good dystopia, this book is set in a world that is eerily similar to ours, if a disaster or phenomenon of this kind hit. And suddenly all the adults lost their minds.

Ruby, our main heroine, goes through quite the character arc. When the book begins, she’s only ten years old, but by the time you reach the last page, she’s a teenager, making difficult decisions and acting as a leader. She struggled with getting close to anyone (understandable, given her power), and her journey to discovering trust was very sweet; not only in a romantic relationship, but definitely in friendships as well.

There is some very clever plotting and world building in The Darkest Minds. America is a mess, the military is out all over the place, kids are being killed right and left, and the setting for the first half of the book is extremely chilling. I’m sure that we will get a bigger picture in the second book, as the scale seems to be expanding by the end of this one. Because this is mainly a survival story of Ruby and her friends, there’s lots of running around, avoiding getting caught by the military, and trying to get to the one place they believe they will be safe. There’s lots of action, sci-fi powers and learning how to use them, and trying to discern who to trust.

Romance-wise, there is a very believable, adorable, slow-building relationship, and it sort of crept up on me when it finally happened. Liam is a surprising ray of sunshine in a stormy world, though he has his own baggage. He and Ruby make a good team, and fortunately, their relationship is not built on instalove.

The ending ripped my heart out of my chest, chopped it into a million pieces and then smashed those pieces with a sledgehammer.

Just a warning.

If you liked The Darkest Minds, you should read Divergent by Veronica Roth and Unwind by Neal Shusterman.


  1. Eileen Lee says:

    I have the second and third books now I just need to get The Darkest Minds so I can binge read this series! I’m so excited you enjoyed it and there’s no instalove! Hooray!! Thanks for the review Jessica!

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