The wonderful team over at BKMRK sent me a copy of this book to hold a reading thread of over on Twitter. I love doing reading threads, so to do one with a book I’d been thinking of reading for a little while was a great opportunity. I actually really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to go and see the film adaptation!
Ruby is sixteen. She is dangerous. And she is alive. For now.
A mysterious disease has killed most of America’s children. Ruby might have survived, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse than a virus: frightening abilities they cannot control. Pressured by the government, Ruby’s parents send her to Thurmond, a brutal state rehabilitation camp, where she has learned to suppress her new power. But what if mastering it is a whole generation’s only chance for survival?
I haven’t read a dystopian book for a long time, so was a little worried when going into this book incase it turned out to be a carbon copy of many other dystopians. The Darkest Minds is actually quite a fresh and interesting take on the genre, and it was really intriguing seeing how brutal some of the powers were and how awful the government in the book was. The treatment the kids receive in the camps, especially Thurmond where it’s at its worst, is brutal and harsh. This just makes even more of an interesting story as it shows how twisted and corrupt the government are, and how they will stop at nothing.
The powers the kids get are the result of the disease, which either kills them off or leaves them with the powers. They’re split into colour categories: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue. The first three are considered the most dangerous, with the abilities to control fire, control minds and emotions, and to control electricity in that order. Blue is telekinesis, and Green is a heightened intelligence state. Ruby herself is categorised as an Orange, but manages to evade being shipped off with the other kids of her category and remains in hiding as a Green. When she’s broken out of Thurmond and eventually escapes with three other kids, she begins to understand her power a bit more.
It’s heartbreaking seeing Ruby battle with controlling her power. She’s able to peer into the memories of other people with a simple touch which, due to her lack of control, also gives her the ability to wipe their memories of her. We constantly see Ruby berate herself for nearly touching someone, and her movements become whiplash quick. She doesn’t want this power, which makes it even harder to try and get control.
The other characters were really enjoyable too; I was very fond of Chubs, whose determination to do right for his old friends is so sweet. He’s also the most rational one of the group, which was great as it gives the reader a character that isn’t hell bent on saving the world and is a rational voice of the group while still looking out for his friends. Chubs really does have a lot of heart. Zu is also a fantastic character. She’s completely silent, and also doesn’t have much control over her power so wears bright yellow rubber gloves so she doesn’t set off any electricity by touching anything. There were some lovely moments between her and Ruby, and really enabled them to bond in the middle of their shared nightmare. Liam wasn’t really a favourite of mine, he was really headstrong and got rather annoying at times, but I know that’s he’s there to be the love interest so that is probably why!
There are some really dark scenes in this book which was actually quite enjoyable; it put it more on the scale of a darker YA fiction. The idea of the different powers the teenagers have is so clever, and really proves the point that teenagers are a force to be reckoned with and can change the world from bad to better.
Final thoughts: A strong start to a brilliant dystopian series. 4/5