I have had The Darkest Minds sat on my shelves since Christmas so it was about time I got round to picking it up. I didn’t really have very high expectations for the book mostly since I missed all of the initial hype surrounding it; however the more I read the more I enjoyed it and now I’m left questioning my decision to put it off for so long!
Bracken’s writing style is beautiful and haunting and despite my initial reservations it really appealed to me. I was so deeply immersed in this world where the characters and dialogue felt so believable and nothing was sugar coated that it actually felt like I was there. The pacing was great; I was gripped from the start and the blend of action and character driven moments was spot on for me. And for the first time in ages I found myself laughing at the funny parts!
Next on the agenda is our protagonist, Ruby. I liked her a lot and even though I disagreed with some of her choices I truly felt for her and understood where she was coming from. In short, I connected with her as easily as if I’d known her for years. That doesn’t happen often. Ruby proved herself a strong, independent person and loyal friend time and again and somehow managed to emerge relatively unscathed from a prison camp.
Then there’s Liam – sweet, Southern, loveable Liam. I fell for his character so hard! That boy is my new fictional crush; kind, respectful and gifted with a heart of gold. I loved him so much more than I expected to! He’s not your traditional brooding bad boy, so we are spared the continuous ‘omigod he’s so hot’ commentary that normally makes up for a distinct lack of personality. But don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s boring just because he doesn’t strut around being all mysterious. He has a well-developed personality and a great sense of humour that makes him so endearing.
As for the relationship between Ruby and Liam, I just thought they had so much chemistry. From the blurb I was expecting a sort of lust-filled insta-love but what I ended up reading was about as far from that as you could expect. There was absolutely no awkward flirting or forced conversations between them and I never doubted that they would work out in the end. As a couple their romance was perfect. They. Just. Fit.
My number one pet peeve with The Darkest Minds was how adamant Ruby was that she was a ‘monster’ because of her powers. Like, okay, I get why you’d be overwhelmed by it all but being different does not make you a terrible person. Ruby seemed unable to distinguish between the accidental damage she could cause and the purposefully destructive actions of genuinely ‘monstrous’ characters, which was really quite irritating because for goodness sake girl, your powers mean you could do a world of good! Your intentions are noble and that is what counts.
I also really don’t know how to feel about the inclusion of that sexual harassment scene. Other than making me feel suitably uncomfortable and having the desired effect of really making me hate the villain I wasn’t sure why it was in there. Talking of our villain, his identity was in no way a surprise and I completely saw his plot twist coming a mile off. Basically, if you find yourself as the protagonist of a YA dystopian novel remember: if it feels too good to be true then it probably is!
The Darkest Minds is a book which succeeds where 99% of dystopian novels fail: it is able to create a raw and shocking yet vividly realistic world that could very easily occur tomorrow. Not an easy thing to pull off! I’m going to go ahead and give it four and a half stars because I really thought it was something special. Another book that I will probably re-read in the future and definitely one I would recommend to fans of dystopian YA fiction.