Series: The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Book 1: The Darkest Minds – 4,5 stars
Book 2: Never Fade – 4 stars
Book 3: In the Afterlight – 4 stars
Synopsis (of the first book)
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.’ to.
The Darkest Minds is one of the few dystopian stories that truly sparked an interest in me. With its supernatural elements weaved through it, it was very much so up my alley. But especially a portion of the characters sunk their claws into me. While I am ultimately not entirely satisfied with the ending, the emotional chord it struck leaves me feeling fond of the trilogy as a whole.
The first book, The Darkest Minds starts us off with Ruby our main character. Through her we learn about the disease, the various powers some of the kids started displaying and how the government reacted to it. Ruby escapes and runs into other children. The premise of this book is interesting. With some of these dystopia ideas I often have the feeling of this will never happen. This was my first instinct with this book too, but the more that I think about there being children with powers, I realize that with current differences with people we aren’t that accepting of each other yet either. I like that at least other countries were briefly mentioned so it doesn’t feel as just America again
While the start does give of the initial feeling of confusion, once Ruby meets up with the van family, as I like to think of them, the story truly started for me. The explanations come more so throughout the book.
The ending of the first book changes some of the setting for Never Fade, the second book. It makes the start again somewhat confusing when we are introduced to a new set of characters that have become a part of Ruby’s new life. But this setting shows another part of the world that we had not yet seen that much about, and it shows the various groups that are moving throughout America.
In the Afterlight branches of this setting, joining the worlds of the first and second book more. The book itself is slow for the most part, then rapidly moves forward in the last 50 pages or so. There are still some things that aren’t entirely wrapped up. And I feel the wrap up that did happen feels perhaps a bit too neat. I had expected more of a gritty ending to it all. One that wasn’t perfect, but perhaps felt a bit more real. Despite that this book and ending did claw at my emotions at various moments.
There is a bind-up of a few novella’s called Through the Dark. I wonder if there might be more wrap up in one of the novella’s.
Ruby did take some getting used to at the start of each book. Mostly though I feel that she blossoms often as a character when in interaction with others. She goes through the most growth in the first two books. She’s had to learn to let others in. I do feel she is strongest in the first book, and most likeable in there.
Liam, Chubs and Zu are each great additions throughout the trilogy. Especially in this first book they create a feeling of family in a world that doesn’t seem to hold much love for its children anymore. For me those three are the heart of these books. They have a gift for bringing out the emotions in those around them. They still have that good place in their heart while being far from perfect themselves. They also have a gift for bringing the comedic note.
Another character I learned to love was Vida. While she is a tough nut to crack throughout Never Fade and In the Afterlight she starts to learn to let others in, and opens up her heart, even if it is just a little. She also amused me often in interactions with others with her exasperation.
Ultimately I will remember The Darkest Minds trilogy most for its characters and the way it tugged at my emotions.