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Justine Larbalestier
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Josef Škvorecký, Paul Wilson
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James Dashner
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Patrick Ness
The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken Note: This may seem like a long book where nothing happens, but it’s totally worth all the nothing you get from it (and that little bit of something). Definitely classifying as a junk-supernatural YA read.

I’ve got major spoilers on the mind. Expect.

Keywords: Prison, rights, government, YA, teen, non-dystopia, love, friendship, disease, cure, society, powers, colours, betrayal, science, experimentation, tribes, Lord of the Flies.

Rating:

Flesch-Kincaid Grading: Grade 10-12 (although one of my three tests came out as grade 5).

Sentence: I sentence Alexandra Bracken to guesting for Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I feel like she’d be brilliant there…and hopefully funny.



Review: I was extremely skeptical about this book when I first heard about it. It felt like another sad attempt at an X-men-like trope. I mean, come on, it’s exactly what it sounds like…young kid accidentally uses powers, which either convinces parents to send them away purposefully or because they cannot help it (in this case it’s a combination of both). Bracken does a great job of revealing Ruby’s power(s) right away, but without exposing the events leading her to Thurmond (a “rehab” camp). You can immediately cross this off as being a psychological thriller, where the narrator might be unreliable (oh yeah, did I mention it’s in first person—ugh!), because every child who has not died is pretty much sent to these camps.

Anyway, Bracken cuts through bullshit of the years at Thurmond and directs us right to the chase. Ruby is not a green, she’s an orange; one of the few oranges who managed to escape death. Oh yeah, Bracken is most definitely into this colour business. We’ve got their colour codes and Ruby and even President Gray (it gets confusing when you’re tired).



So basically, Ruby is sought after for her rarity by both the Children’s League (which are like a guerrilla/terrorist army), the government (probably want her dead), and another group/person (which she doesn't know about).

Of course, Ruby joins a small group (looking for sanctuary, as they always are) she finds during her “escape”, and ends up being accepted by them, and falls in love with the leader of said company (yeah, bet you saw that coming). All of this is really standard, except that Ruby is extremely insecure and a fucking coward (I shan't forgive her for Sam, I've decided, though I’m kinda glad she’s not some macho badass Rogue-type yet).

Here, reader, you must drudge through a long journey to find the Slip Kid (I still wanna know why they call him that). Overall, for the greater plot, not much happens until the end, but goddamn it are you kept on the edge of your seat. There is no rest for these poor kids, with trackers and bounty hunters hot on their trail. Despite this, and the limited narration, you find yourself kind of in love with the characters despite all their flaws.

Liam is that guy. The one who fits in no matter where you go. He is charismatic, lovable, responsibly kind (you’ll get what I mean when you read more of him), overly hopeful (even at the worst of times), and has utter faith in things just…working out. If I met Lee for real, I must admit, I’d probably crush him, under my foot, in a heartbeat for all his smiles and cheeriness, but then regret it instantly for the same reason.

Ruby is apparently a gorgeous hermit, who blames herself for everything going wrong (her and Liam have this in common). Fortunately, for her survival, she is a bit fickle in her guilt. There must be some part of her thinking she is not entirely responsible, especially if she’s willing to stick it out with this group that took her in.

Zu is like Rogue, only younger and mute (as of now). She wears gloves, but to prevent the electric surge of whatever. Hers is a physical display of power, which makes people think she’s more powerful than she is. Big power, little body? I think I’ve heard of that one before.

Chubs…is more like me. I suspect I’m not as intensely academic as he, or as smart, but he has the same shrewd, calculating and overly cautious frame of mind, which I can appreciate. He’s an argumentative ass with major trust issues, and some raging impatience. But, unlike me, he’s a bit of a wimp. And apparently cannot handle heavy labour (I suppose all the better to go with his prissy name—Charles Carrington Meriweather IV).

And Clancy Gray…well, to be honest, I’m already judging him for having the same initials as Christian Grey (not to mention a similarly arrogant personality, and blaming his issues on his goddamn parentage). I actually despise him and pity him at the same time, but for some reason I was a little pleased when he left that note on his laptop, which read “I lied before. I would have run.” On the one hand, creepy; and on the other, it confirms he might actually have human emotion left in that hollow shell of his.

The Darkest Minds will remind readers of Unwind (Shusterman), the Gone series(Grant), and a little bit of X-Men. I’d "like" to think it has some twisted Fifty Shades dominance bit at the end. Real disturbing…sort of.



It’s important to note that while I categorized this as “dystopian”, it really isn’t. This is almost mock dystopian, during present times. It has all the right economic shit set up too. I do not know much about economics and I probably wouldn’t care unless this goddess was telling me.



But I do know it sounds less ridiculous with the crisis at hand. Also, typical. Though, I didn’t particularly like the idea of “walls” being built in Mexico and Canada to prevent American crossover…are these metaphorical walls or are we talkin’ some Monsters bullshit?



In any case, that thing you’re expecting, but not sure when it’ll hit you…hard? That thing with her memory erasing abilities? Yeah, that thing that Liam joked about and you had a heart attack right along with Ruby? Just…yeah. Some will say that it’s the worst ending ever, but I kind of feel like it’s the best and most appropriate. It kills me, yes, and I’ll probably go crazy wondering, but there was something so annoyingly necessary about it.

Here are things I predict: somehow Lee will get his memory back or realize something is wrong/Ruby will be able to restore people’s memories as well; Lee will be pissed she did it; Clancy will be making a move; Ruby will likely meet Cole and understand Lee’s family better; Ruby will somehow destroy or escape the CL/make Rob forget Cate (revenge!); Ruby will be less cowardly; Sam will be reintroduced to Ruby; the voicemail intro is the same as when Ruby was taken six years ago, and her parents are no longer at that house.

Also, here’s a helpful summary of powers/colours:

Red—unknown, probably physically harmful as they were recruited in CG’s private army.

Orange—mind control, induced psychological trauma.

Yellow—electrokinesis, electric manipulation.

Green—unknown.

Blue—telekinesis (weaker in some).