Review: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)

the darkest minds goodreads cover


(Cover/Synopsis from

By: Alexandra Bracken

Publication: December 18th, 2012

Genre(s): Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopia, Fantasy

Synopsis: 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.


The Darkest Minds follows Ruby Daly as she’s thrown into a brutal camp (that resembles something of a modern day concentration camp, except with kids. Awful, I know), and eventually escapes, and her life on the run that follows.

Here’s a bit more detailed information about everything mentioned above in the synopsis:

Kids are dropping dead to this disease called IAAN, and those that don’t have special powers that the government is afraid of. When the kids are dropped into these camps, they are sorted by their powers.

Greens:  are good with numbers and solving puzzles.

Yellows: can control electricity with their hands.

Blues: can levitate/move things.

Oranges: can get inside other people’s heads

Reds: most dangerous of all. Not much is mentioned except that they were taken for the government to be in an army.

Ruby is an Orange, and she can steal people’s memories and make them completely forget her. As read about Ruby’s time at the Thurmond, the camp, I kept wondering things like:

  • Why do this kids have powers? Were they born with them? Did all the mothers who had these children have some kind of disease or gene that made the powers occur in their children?
  • Was the disease released by the government to kill off anyone without powers so they could identify the “freak” kids they wanted to be placed in the camps?
  • Is it just this generation of kids that have the powers, or does every generation afterwards have the powers too?
  • Why isn’t the rest of the world coming to our country’s aid?

None of these questions were really answered throughout this book, so I wonder if the sequel might address them. Either way, I had to shush the part of my mind that kept coming up with these questions and tell myself to read on.

The storyline in general was okay, but I found most of the plot twists to be predictable. I guessed right away who the Slip Kid was, I knew there would be a love triangle, I knew who was evil and who wasn’t. Not much was surprising, except for the ending, which really made me mad at Ruby, because what she does to Liam is not necessary. Really, it isn’t.

Let’s address the characters:

I really enjoyed Zu and Chubs as the side characters, they were great and memorable and funny, but I didn’t really connect that much with Ruby or Liam. Ruby was always so doubting of herself, she thought that people would think she was a monster just because she couldn’t control her powers. Believe in yourself, girl!

On the other hand, I applaud Alexandra Bracken not making both Ruby and Liam  Mary Sues. Neither were perfect, and they both had flaws, especially Liam. He was sweet, but how do I put this? Broken. He was broken.

My fave moments:

There were some sweet/awesome moments throughout this book, especially as Liam, Ruby, Zu, and Chubs were travelling towards East River:

  • Ruby and Zu playing dress up in Walmart. Very touching.
  • Chub’s very ranting/angry speech to the kids at East River.
  • Ruby using her powers on people. She’s like steel, really tough and it’s nice to see her in action.
  • Zu’s goodbye to Black Betty, the van all of the kids had been travelling in.

Unrealistic things:

I noticed a lot of things that would not be realistic if we actually had a situation occur in real life.

  • Most parents (I’d hope) would not give away their kids that easily to the government. They’d at least talk to their kids, and wouldn’t live in fear of them that quickly just because the government told them their kids were dangerous.
  • Why would East River, the safe haven for kids that escaped the camps, have running water and that many resources available? Wouldn’t the government shut off their water, their electricity even? As for the resources, I know that they mug people to get food and medical supplies, but where would they get things like utensils,cooking supplies, blankets/mattresses for the cabins, etc.?   Where would kids find a volleyball net? A guitar? All of these things are supposedly at the camp. That’s not realistic. If this really happened, the kids would probably be sleeping on the ground eating things like berries. I know that East River is supposed to be this old campsite, but there’s never an explanation of where everything was found, nobody said: “Somebody left this guitar by the river, and we were lucky to find it,” or anything like that.
  • Somehow, someway, the terrible camps they send children with powers to would be exposed to the world if this really happened.  With all of our media, somebody, even a rogue reporter, would find out what was really going on.
  • As I said above, it’s unrealistic that the rest of the world wouldn’t help our country and discuss what was really happening to our country.
  • Our democracy would not let our president have an extra term, even if he said he only wanted it to help our country.

Phew, that was a lot.

Summing it up:

The Darkest Minds  was okay, not the best, but not the worst, with some very enjoyable moments and some unrealistic ideas. I will be reading the rest of the trilogy to see how everything ends.

My rating: 3.5 stars.





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