Alice Liu's Reviews > The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
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's review
Jun 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read from June 19 to 20, 2012 — I own a copy

"The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces." These words perfectly describe Ruby's world. Detained at age ten because she contracted a disease that caused supernatural abilities, Ruby learned to hide her skills from everyone, including the other child detainees. Especially since her abilities rated level Orange, the most feared and despised of all. There are plenty of monsters in Ruby's world: Children who would abuse their abilities to cause harm; adults who would kill them; and organizations who would use these skills for their political ends. Dark minds, indeed. However, perhaps the darkest minds are those trusted individuals (parents, teachers, friends) who taught Ruby to believe that children with these skills are monsters - darkest because they hide behind the unlikeliest faces of all.

Ruby struggles to survive while all the while believing she is a monster. Her own fear causes her to do monstrous things - letting a friend take the fall for her, and then some. But that is that world Ruby lives in: Fear begets hate begets fear. In Ruby's case, the hate is self-hatred, and it prevents her from being able to use her skills effectively until she is rescued by a renegade gang of children and is compelled to do and be better for them, if not for herself. This is a moving and gripping book with lots of twists and action. What makes it stand out is ho Ruby and her friends learn and grow through courage, sacrifice, and hard choices. It's a pleasure to read a book where the characters fully "earn" their position as protagonists. (I feel very lucky to have found my copy of this book in a used book bin)

I only had two issues with "The Darkest Minds." The first was that Ruby has too much adult knowledge for someone who was detained at a camp since age 10 (i.e. right after escaping, she could tell the difference between different makes of cars and the performance that could be expected with each of them). The problem is that the story is told from Ruby's POV with the knowledge of a third person adult narrator. It wasn't a huge issue for me at all as I enjoyed the detail and found it relevant, but it did strike me as odd. My second issue is that it is June now, the book won't be released until December, and I'm dying to know what is going to happen in the sequel. Oh, the cruelty!
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