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. (Goodreads)
Superpowers. Sounds fun right?
Well, when you have to survive an unknown and extremely deadly disease in order to get these powers, only to be segregated from society and essentially kept in concentration camps is far from fun.
Bracken’s The Darkest Minds Series begins with a very X-Men-esque scenario, as described above. After an unknown disease kills off the majority of the State’s children, only a relatively small percentage are left, but there were after-effects to this illness. Those who survived would develop one of a five of abilities ranging from telekinesis to powerful telepathy. These abilities are assigned colours, which are later used to segregate its users, separating them into groups based on their potential threat level. Greens (those with enhanced intelligence) are considered the least dangerous, while the most dangerous include the Red (those with pyrokinesis) and the Orange (telepaths). The most dangerous of the group were often killed on the spot.
The follows an Orange, who, against all odds, has survived many years in a “rehabilitation” camp under the guise of a Green. Upon rescue from the camp, she not only realizes just how much the outside world has changed, but she realizes for any true change to occur, there are hard decisions ahead of her.
I enjoyed this book, for the most part, though I often found it to be a slower-than-usual read for a YA novel. This book also differs quite a bit from other dystopian YA in that it tends to take a bit more of a political standpoint on the subjects it presents while still pandering to the action-filled expectations of its intended audience. With many parallels to the ever-so-popular superhero genre, this book does a good job of setting itself apart from other superhero-based stories and succeeds in creating characters who are multi-dimensional. The book spends a lot of time on character development, a lot more than you would expect from a YA novel, coming at what some may consider the current fall from grace of Dystopian Sci-Fi.
As I’ve already alluded to, I found the book to be a little slow at times, with scenes that I did not find entirely necessary (though they did achieve what they were meant to.) My most notable problems with the book are subjective: when it comes down to it, I simply did not find many of the characters likeable. I often found that the protagonist tended to be inconsistent. The inconsistencies are, for the most part, excusable due to the circumstances of the driving plot. Regardless, I often became a little annoyed because the character seemed to have sudden unexplained bursts of a newfound confidence that didn’t seem appropriate.
This book was pretty good, but to be honest, I ultimately enjoyed it as much as others. I’m glad I read the first book, but I don’t intend to read the rest of the series.