TITLE: The Darkest Minds
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken
SERIES: The Darkest Minds #1
PAGES: 496 (paperback)
Note: An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
It wasn’t so long ago that I read Brightly Woven and absolutely loved it, so I came into The Darkest Minds with high expectations for Alexandra Bracken and her latest novel. Needless to say, this second time author delivered on almost all fronts for me.
In a frightening new world where most of the children die from a deadly and mysterious disease, those that survive are suddenly developing frightening powers; mind control, telepathy, telekinesis…these are only some of the possibilities. Sixteen-year-old Ruby struggles to hide her abnormality from the rehabilitation camp in which she works, yet when the truth comes out she has no choice but to flee for her life and join a group of kids desperate to find their one last chance at safety – a haven called East River.
Bracken has a very noticeable ‘show not tell’ writing style, in The Darkest Minds we are thrown straight in there with little to no backstory to help us. In a way this is very refreshing, as it allows the reader to ease themselves into Ruby’s world and slowly put things together piece by piece of our their accord. Of course this can also be rather disconcerting, and it requires the reader to pay rather close attention to ensure that they understand everything that is going on around them. A few times I found myself not getting a certain reference, and in my confusion I’d have to read backwards in order to comprehend what was happening. This wasn’t, however, a constant problem and I definitely commend Bracken for recognising that her readers do have some modicum of common sense.
In much the same way this idea also applied to Ruby, though the story is told from her point of view it is not until you are fully immersed in the novel that you begin to get fragments of her heart-breaking tale. This ensures that you must be patient to get the full story, and whilst at times it was difficult it definitely pays off in the end. Ruby herself is simultaneously fascinating and confusing, particularly at the beginning when you have no idea of her history or personality. Though occasionally I would find something I didn’t like about her she still didn’t fail to engage my interest, and it was her character coupled with the mysteries and abilities of those she travelled with that really captured my attention during the novel.
In Brightly Woven it was the romance that really melted my heart, yet I’m afraid to say that Ruby and Liam didn’t quite have the same appeal. For me it seemed to appear as if from thin air – the couple going straight from routine, friendly interactions to completely head-over-heels in love. Now, this would have been fine had there been a slow build up beforehand, yet to my eyes it seemed to jump straight from one side of the river to the other without the stepping stones in between. That said, Liam was a likeable love interest and character and the romance certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.
A wonderful start to a new series, The Darkest Minds is a novel I think most dystopia fans would definitely enjoy. The plot certainly finishes on an interesting point for me, and I can’t wait to see how Alexandra Bracken develops the ideas created here in future novels.