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Author: Alexandra Bracken
Published By: Disney Hyperion (2012)
Synopsis: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living. (Taken from Goodreads)
Before I begin this review, I have to voice a strong negative and warn about the amount of swearing and language in this book. There was mild profanity—maybe once a chapter and more than that towards the end, with the f-word being used once or twice, which is a huge issue for me. Because it bothered me, I thought others would like to know as well. Also because of this, this story has me confused in the sense that I’m not sure whether I liked it or not.
The plotline was intense—full of action and adventure, memorable characters, well plotted twists, and a well structured story. It had me on the edge of my seat! There was enough time in the camps to hate it, enough time with the League to suspect it, enough time with Liam and the others to know them: though I can’t say it wasn’t a bit drawn out, for the most part, every page was fascinating. The romance that enters the story was sweet and mostly clean, easy to cheer for and love. Another plus for me was that the romance, though more prominent towards the end, never became more than a subplot. Conflicts in this story were written and displayed very well, and the premise was written in a way that seemed plausible and realistic.
Characters in this story were very, very well done. Ruby was written in such a great way: she is such a great girl and you can’t help root for her. Granted, she has her struggles, but she works to overcome them. She’s humble and honest, she’s trustworthy and loyal, she’s very empathetic; she’s loving, caring, sweet. She knows right from wrong very distincitvely; she’s very cautious and careful. She’s mature, much unlike most YA female leads, and in no way naive. In all ways she fit wonderfully into this story and was a great lead for a story such as this one.
Liam was a great associate lead, compassionate, humble, full of love for others. Combined, you could not find two other YA leads so mature, kind, truthful, wholesome and humble. I’ve never seen anything like it before in secular YA, and I soaked it all in. As well, the love that develops between Liam and Ruby also remained clean and positive, and it was sweet with a level of innocence.
On the other hand I felt the other characters were hard to really know. As for Chubs, I never really understood him, and though I understand his role in the story, I hardly liked him as a character. Zu, though portrayed as the sweet girl everyone loves, was not a character I could not connect to no matter how I tried. There was so little development for her, and though I can understand her role in the story and its importance, as a character herself I really never got to know her.
Another positive element of this book to me are the themes: themes of loyalty, protection, humility—love, honesty, doing the right thing; friendship and family. The list goes on and on and I loved the amazing depths this book went to. Scenes from before the camps were hauntingly well done and the way they continued to develop as the story progressed was amazing.
However the negatives of this book have me question whether or not I liked it at all. The swearing was enough to lower my rating and it definitely lowered my appreciation. I felt it wasn’t necessary and didn’t belong in a book like this, that otherwise was full of such positive elements. The language brought the positive feel of the book down to a negative feel. I was incredibly disappointed by this aspect, especially because I had been enjoying the book so much. A wonderful novel can be destroyed by some unnecessary language, and I feel that unfortunately that is what happened in the case of The Darkest Minds.
In closure, the plotline, characters, and themes of this book were truly amazing and unexpected from the YA genre, which both surprised and excited me. I would have given this book a lot higher rating had it not been for the amount of mild profanity, which is disappointing because had there been no swearing, this would have likely gone on to be one of my favorite books and I’d be highly recommending it; as it is, I can not knowingly recommend this to anyone.
Many swear words are mentioned, especially as the book goes on.
Recommended to: Because of the profanity I do not recommend this to anyone.