Mitch's Reviews > The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
8170554
's review

did not like it
bookshelves: no-just-no

On the surface, The Darkest Minds has a lot more going for it than your typical dystopian. It's incredibly dark and disturbing, but more than that, there's a certain realism to Alexandra Bracken's writing that makes the plot believable in a way few other books in the genre are. Yeah I'm frustrated, but not because this book is a generic dystopian - it's not, not because the plot calls for kids being rounded up in concentration camps and shot in the back - though that happens, but because I feel like this is a book with massive potential derailed by really poor execution.

For one, the concentration camp angle really bothers me, but not for the reasons you might think. We've had internment camps in this country before, so I'm not going to question whether it's realistic the government can round up kids and lock them up - it's a stark reminder of what could happen, except to say, if all the kids are either dead or locked up, and having more is illegal for fear of more tiny terrors with psychic powers running around, yeah, the United States isn't going to survive once the last twenty something dies of old age, no? Just something I wish Bracken would’ve considered.

But beyond that, it’s the way Bracken handles the concentration camps that really irks me, because I am not a fan of writing bad guys to be incredibly sadistic for no reason other than to score sympathy points for the victims. It just never works for me. And that’s exactly what happens here, we have adult guards rifle butting and mentally abusing little kids, and for what? So I can feel sorry for Ruby and the other child victims? It’s strange, because Bracken actually has an out - the Oranges, the kids with mind control powers, some of them really are mentally unstable and get the guards to shoot each other, and if I were a guard at a place like that I’d be scared like shit and might take my constant paranoia out on the kids. That psychological angle would’ve at least given a point to all the child abuse (besides as cheap emotional manipulation), but I don’t think Bracken worked that distinction into the story until too late - until my impression of a camp run by sociopaths for housing sociopaths made me want to fling my copy of the book across the room.

Then Ruby manages to escape, and for one glorious moment I thought my frustration would be over - but turns out... not even close. Because this is a book with no end game, no direction, none of the characters, Ruby included, really knows what the heck they’re doing. So Ruby basically stumbles around from one ‘bad guy’ organization (the U.S. government) to another before she just happens to fall in with Liam, Chubs, and Zu and go on the lamest road trip ever. I think my eyes started glazing over as they’re driving around, because Liam is completely bland and not an interesting character in the slightest, Liam and Ruby together are a total fail, Chubs and Zu have their moments of brilliance but end up contributing very little to the overall plot, and the whole thing just meandered around until just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of it they get shot at by bounty hunters or somebody and my interest is briefly sparked until their pursuers are dealt with and I’m back to being bored.

The whole time, none of them really has a plan for what they're going to do, it's mostly Ruby wanting to learn more about her powers while the others stick with her because they don't have anywhere better to go I guess? And this cycles three or four times as they’re going up and down the Eastern Seaboard looking for this supposed hiding place where they’d be safe and where Ruby can learn more about her powers, and the only thing it ultimately does for me is remind me that journeys which are just a string of random plot points assembled together usually aren’t very interesting unless you’re doing it Jumanji style by hitting the characters with various dangerous jungle obstacles at the roll of a dice.

So finally, the three four of them make it to the sanctuary they were looking for. Interestingly enough, I’m not spoiling anything, this is all in the summary, but two thirds of the book has already gone by. Anyway, after being introduced to *two* evil organizations already, neither of which has been sufficiently developed to make them compelling enough for me to actually care whether they’re a threat or not, I’m introduced to another group that may or may not be evil and I’m trying to think what the heck Bracken’s trying to do with all these groups and... I have no clue. Something about using the kids to take control of the country, but how does group one figure with groups two and three? None of the groups really interact with each other, characters pop up, do stuff, then disappear again, and I'm really left with zero idea why Ruby would choose to work with any one of these groups over the others... well, besides the government, since they’ve been torturing her for years.

Sure, there are a few reveals at the camp, but nothing I couldn't guess from before, and no real information that would actually tell me where the plot is going - how are Ruby and her friends going to take down the evil dystopian government? What's the point of the Children's League? What's their game? And was that just a rape scene I read and nobody really says anything? And you know, the ending, I supposed I should be shocked or outraged or something, but considering I never actually liked Liam, he didn’t do much of anything during the book, I don’t think I’ll miss him.

In short, the best part of the book, writing wise at least, was the first couple of chapters describing the horrors of the camp, though the way it was done pissed me off completely. After that, it felt likes these characters just aimlessly wandered around waiting for the plot to find them rather than actually doing anything about their situation and nothing really happened. So thanks The Darkest Minds for the two hours of my life I’ll never get back.
188 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Darkest Minds.
Sign In »

Comments Showing 1-50 of 77 (77 new)


message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Let me know if it gets more interesting!


message 2: by Deniz (new)

Deniz that bad?!


message 3: by Kilikina (new) - added it

Kilikina omg :/ I was really looking forward to this one too....


message 4: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) This must have been really bad :o


message 5: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) So, in short, another great potential down the drain :(


Mitch Kilikina wrote: "omg :/ I was really looking forward to this one too...."

You should still read it let me know what you think. I don't know if it's just me.

Ornella wrote: "So, in short, another great potential down the drain :("

Maybe. Or I might be the odd one out.


message 7: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) There's been some mixed reviews with this one, and after I read yours definitely off my pile.


message 8: by Rogier (new)

Rogier same here . of my to read list . huggs mitch


Meghan I can think of a hella lot I books that could have improved with some jumanji style action. Giggles. I totally loved your review!


message 10: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Yeah totally. Thanks.


Kriste Sooo much potential that was used to basically half way set the stage for the real story to start. :( disappointed but hopeful for book 2


message 12: by Mitch (last edited Jan 05, 2013 07:52PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch I agree. After the setup it got to be really boring. Hopefully the sequel will live up to the potential.


Andrea This is a well written review but I disagree with your disbelief in the guards' behavior. An example of research done on the subject is the Doctor Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment. Normal Stanford students took their position of power as "guards" and ran with it to a horrifying conclusion. The students who were "prisoners" were abused mentally and physically by their own friends and peers. Now give a bunch of guards power over freaky kids they're scared of and told they can't leave the camps because of the kids' existence? This part of Bracken's book didn't make me angry. It's just like squishing a spider because it's scary and it COULD bite you.

http://sethwinter.hubpages.com/hub/Do...

I did enjoy the book. However, I can see many of your points. I still say it's a good read. There's just a lot of action with not a lot of information. Maybe book 2 will make up for that...considering the ending.


Clinton You were spot on in your review, i said similar things. There was way too many plot holes and an overabundance of stupidity.


message 15: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Andrea wrote: "This is a well written review but I disagree with your disbelief in the guards' behavior. An example of research done on the subject is the Doctor Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment. Normal Stanfo..."

Thanks, but I am well aware of the Stanford Prison Experiment and my criticism has nothing to do with disbelief in the guards' behavior. I have no issues with what is depicted, what made me angry is that Bracken seemed to be using the abuse solely to get me to sympathize with the kids - I guess I just didn't feel the prison sections emphasized the whole inhumanity of the entire setup, rather it was done so Ruby could play the victim card and be a tearjerker type scene.

But like I said, that's sort of my pet peeve that's bothered me ever since Harry Potter's aunt and cousin (just give his puppy cancer already!) and I doubt it's something that affects most readers, but I pointed it out because because that was the primary reason for my dislike, otherwise I would've rated the book an ok as the rest is quite haphazard.

Clinton wrote: "You were spot on in your review, i said similar things. There was way too many plot holes and an overabundance of stupidity."

Thanks.


message 16: by Shelly (new) - added it

Shelly Well I'm glad I scrolled down and read your review because I just put this on my tbr earlier today! I'm trying to get into the dystopian genre and I think this would've pissed me off!lol


message 17: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Shelly wrote: "Well I'm glad I scrolled down and read your review because I just put this on my tbr earlier today! I'm trying to get into the dystopian genre and I think this would've pissed me off!lol"

Well, I am in the minority of people who haven't liked this book, and I hate discouraging anyone from trying a book, but yeah it is very dark and if that kind of stuff is not your cup of tea this may not be the right book.


message 18: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Its called "Darkest Minds", so its implied dark, ugly nature should be presumed before you read it. Dystopian means NOT real and therefore any analysis of "believable" execution is insane. Its not supposed to be real at all.
I try to be positive and always value a book for what it is.


Clinton It doesn't have to be real, but for us to believe in this book and be captured in it, it does need to have at least some logic going on. No one expects the world inside of this book to be exactly like ours or follow all the rules that our world does but it shouldn't be unbelievable.


message 20: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Clinton wrote: "It doesn't have to be real, but for us to believe in this book and be captured in it, it does need to have at least some logic going on. No one expects the world inside of this book to be exactly l..."

Exactly! Obviously the book is fictional so it's not going to be 'real' but it still has to follow some sort of internal logic and rules.

Christine wrote: "Its called "Darkest Minds", so its implied dark, ugly nature should be presumed before you read it. Dystopian means NOT real and therefore any analysis of "believable" execution is insane. Its no..."

Sorry, but this one just disagreed with me. I'm sure once you finish you can write a glowing positive review and your opinions could be equally as valid.


Caitlin Mitch, I don't agree with you but I respect the way you've dealt with comments on your review, both emphasizing that other reader's mileage may vary and gently re-explaining yourself when necessary. IDK this is probably a weird comment but I guess thanks for not attacking people who disagree with you in the comments personally even when they have a pretty hostile tone.


message 22: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Caitlin wrote: "Mitch, I don't agree with you but I respect the way you've dealt with comments on your review, both emphasizing that other reader's mileage may vary and gently re-explaining yourself when necessar..."

Well I read and discuss books for fun and it's not fun to get into a flame war over opinions. I actually like discussing books with people who disagree with me just to get different perspectives so your comment's not that weird, it's actually what I try to do as a reviewer. Thanks.


message 23: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Your review seems a bit harsh, and oversimplified for the book. When stepping back and looking at characters and the plot very generally then I can see some of your arguments being somewhat valid. The road trip portions of the book felt to me a good time for building the characters showing Ruby adjusting to a new style of life, making connections with other kids and more. While there may have been little action it was an important period of build up for the main character, but there was very little build up for the secondary characters with her.

I think what bugs me most about your review is the idea that it took you 2 hours to read the book, while I was interrupted multiple times it took me about 8 hours at least to read the book. I don't claim to be a fast reader but 2 hours seems a bit quick. Some rough math on the 526 page book in my eformat 2hours turns into 13 seconds per page or roughly 19 words per second or 1140 WPM assuming a 250 word per page average. The print version may be a little different but I can see a lot of a story blurring away at that speed. Anyways that part of the review seemed to be the most implausible stretch for me.

I did find the book quite enjoyable though and intend to write my own review of it when I have a bit more time available.


message 24: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch You're right the conclusions I come to are general, but I think they're supported by my observations from the book. I didn't see any character development differentiating Ruby from every other dystopian heroine who suffers at the hands of the 'evil' dystopian government but escapes and finds a home with a bunch of outlaws and learns something new about herself, then by way of comparison besides how she's victimized by the government, which I hated, I didn't find her character as compelling or interesting as others. But that's just me.

As for my reading speed, a sentence a second is normal for me, it's very unusual for me to take more than 3 hours to finish a book. I don't mean to brag but 4 or 5 books a day is doable if I have nothing else to do. You can question it and all I can say is books don't blur for me, it is what it is.


message 25: by Deniz (new)

Deniz We don't know the other thousand odd people but we do know M
And obviously most of us value his opinion more than those of the others...


message 26: by Matt (new) - rated it 2 stars

Matt YES YES YES YES.

Reading reviews for this book have been like reading reviews for Twilight. I agree 100% with this review. To be honest, Bracken didn't do much with the concepts she was given, or the plot. Ruby was a boring, self-loathing girl and listening to her constantly dance around things was annoying.

On top of that, the book had no real momentum. I didn't care about the characters - there wasn't anything special about them that set them apart, or even made me care about them. The plot was so slow, filled with long dragging, boring points with small spots of action.

And we didn't even get to see what the whole book is supposed to be about - their abilities - delved into. Why do they have them? How did they come about? Who created them? How can they use them? Why do they work? I was never even totally sure what each color could do.

Anyway, thanks for being the one review on this I actually agree with.


message 27: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Thanks. I'm not looking for vindication because many of my friends do happen to like Twilight and I try to be as understanding as possible no matter how much I disagree with them, but I'm glad with so many people telling me how wrong I am someone sees it the same way as I do.


message 28: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Mitch wrote: "Thanks. I'm not looking for vindication because many of my friends do happen to like Twilight "

Lol :p

And I'm one sec away of starting this book and see what all the commotion is about btw...


message 29: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) Melissa wrote: "Mitch wrote: "Thanks. I'm not looking for vindication because many of my friends do happen to like Twilight "

Lol :p

And I'm one sec away of starting this book and see what all the commotion is a..."


Ikr..


message 30: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ornella wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Mitch wrote: "Thanks. I'm not looking for vindication because many of my friends do happen to like Twilight "

Lol :p

And I'm one sec away of starting this book and see what all th..."


What you think hon? We gonna read this one? ;)


message 31: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) Melissa wrote: "Ornella wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Mitch wrote: "Thanks. I'm not looking for vindication because many of my friends do happen to like Twilight "

Lol :p

And I'm one sec away of starting this book and..."


I would if I didn't have to fix my whole damn calibre library, which is taking forever...and got exams this week :(


message 32: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Well I didn't mean now now silly cause its already midnight here and there is some nasty thing for me tomorrow that calls work :( bleh

Exams are pretty early there then??


message 33: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) Melissa wrote: "Well I didn't mean now now silly cause its already midnight here and there is some nasty thing for me tomorrow that calls work :( bleh

Exams are pretty early there then??"


Well, we have 3 big ones per semester. These are the first ones.


message 34: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah I also hated the book :(


message 35: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch I'm sorry to hear that :(


Alexandra I loved this book! I can't even fathom how you can say this about such a wonderfull, dark, book. It's dystopian, it's not suppose to be real. You get to really know the characters, You can really get to know them. It's a story that makes you wish you were a faster reader. She doesn't know what she's gonna do next, and why would she? She's has no where to go, she's scared, but Liam, Chubs and Zu help her find her "path" I also love when Chubs said "The Darkest minds tend to hind behind the most unlikely faces"


message 37: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch I'm glad you loved it, but unfortunately the book was not for me. Wish you the best with the sequel.


Alexandra Thanks, sorry you didn't like it :( Have fun living other lives through books : D


Caitlin Katie wrote: "...(My name is Kaitlyn, too, heyyyy wassup)..."

Hey other Kaitlyn! (Best name right? and your spelling gets better fictional characters than mine.) I totally understand the pressures of a long TBR pile and hey, you can always edit your original review. I've found myself downgrading or upgrading a few books lately.


message 40: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch @Katie
Sorry you didn't finish (view spoiler) I hope your next book works out for you.

Caitlin wrote: "I totally understand the pressures of a long TBR pile and hey, you can always edit your original review."

Yup exactly. Great point.


Justin Mazurek you're obviously high because this book was fucking amazing.


message 42: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Justin wrote: "you're obviously high because this book was fucking amazing."

Maybe you'll change your mind after you, I don't know, read more than this one book? I honestly have no idea why this review attracts the most sock puppet like comments...


Clinton Mitch wrote: "Justin wrote: "you're obviously high because this book was fucking amazing."

Maybe you'll change your mind after you, I don't know, read more than this one book? I honestly have no idea why this r..."


Thats just the internet being the internet bro.


Caitlin Clinton wrote: "Thats just the internet being the internet bro. "

Wise words. Is this review your worst for flaming comments Mitch?


message 45: by Ornella (Nyx) (new)

Ornella (Nyx) Caitlin wrote: "Clinton wrote: "Thats just the internet being the internet bro. "

Wise words. Is this review your worst for flaming comments Mitch?"


I think Onyx is worst, but not by much.


Linzi Looking at the ratings on this - I really thought I was loosing it. I didn't hate it - it just bored, irritated and frustrated me for many of the reasons you've mentioned in your review. Glad I'm not alone - thanks for a thoughtful review


message 47: by Mitch (last edited Aug 01, 2013 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Linzi wrote: "Looking at the ratings on this - I really thought I was loosing it. I didn't hate it - it just bored, irritated and frustrated me for many of the reasons you've mentioned in your review. Glad I'm n..."

Thanks. I don't hate it either, I take 1 star to mean dislike like GR says but glad we agree.

Ornella wrote: "I think Onyx is worst, but not by much. "

Well Onyx I was asking for it, that was a troll review aimed at Katy and I have no idea how the heck it took off. Ocean at the End of the Lane is my favorite because the people who disagree with me actually gave intelligent feedback and I had to rewrite it twice to clarify my stance, I wish more of my reviews were like that.


message 48: by Gill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gill Even though I really enjoyed the book, after reading your review I realized most of what you said was true. I LOVE actions books, and almost all of the books I read never have enough action and excitement to make me happy. This was a happy surprise, and I recommend it to anyone who is irritated by a lack of action, but is willing to ignore oversights in the overall plot.


message 49: by Saskia (last edited Nov 16, 2013 02:14AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Saskia So glad to know I wasn't the only one who didn't like this book. I found it boring and I kept thinking I have read this plot before


Meaghan R. (YA-aholic) Whil I enjoyed the book, I LOVED your review! You have a real talent with words!


« previous 1
back to top