The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

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.

There are very few books out there that I would say insulted my intelligence, but this is absolutely one of them.

First off, let me start with the premise.  Some disease mysteriously kills pretty much all children and teenagers but those that survive get mind powers ranging from math skills to erasing memories.  I could live with that somewhat unbelievable premise if not for what happened next: all the kids in the country that survived were rounded up and taken to internment camps.  Sure, some parents would be terrified by their kids but honestly?  I very much doubt that the majority of parents would willingly give up their surviving children to the government as Alexandra Bracken imagines.  Also, the sheer cruelty all of the guards in the camp show toward the low-risk children (blues and greens) is ridiculous.  There would be some displays of even a little bit of human compassion but Bracken just made a total caricature out of the guards.

I could ignore the premise if the writing wasn’t so awful.  But it was awful, truly awful.  There are big long scenes where absolutely nothing happens then action appears out of nowhere and suddenly we’re back to a boring scene with no transition in between.  When the skip tracer appears and Ruby hits her head (or something like that) I flipped to the next chapter and went ‘huh?’.  She was suddenly back in the van with no explanation as to what happened.  Transitions are important, people!

You’d have to go through The Darkest Minds with a fine tooth comb to actually find anything vaguely resembling a plot.  It’s basically a futuristic road trip with talking heads in a dark room!  Alexandra Bracken doesn’t feel the need to describe pretty much any of the characters Ruby meets when she runs away from her captors until at least 300 pages in or so.  It was like listening to a bunch of people talk in a pitch black room.  People that all sounded the same.  There was really no difference in the patterns of speech of Suzume, Chubs and Liam.  They all sounded like the same character.

As for Ruby, don’t get me started.  She hates herself and feels like she can’t trust anyone, which is completely understandable because she lived in what turned out to be a concentration camp for children.  Yet Liam waltzes in and in no time at all she trusts him completely!  I don’t trust people that quickly and I haven’t experienced anything anywhere near the level of what Ruby has experienced.  It’s just not believable.  And when they finally meet the Slip Kid and Ruby learns who she is, she immediately trusts him.  As if someone with his background could be trusted!  Does she remember who his father is?  Ugh, just kill me now.

I can’t recommend this book to anyone.  It’s a waste of paper and ink and is an insult to the intelligence of its target audience.

I give this book 0.5/5 stars.

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