The Darkest Minds and Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken Reviews

Saturday, 13 June 2015
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), by Alexandra Bracken
Publication: October 22, 2013, by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 488
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted

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. 

My Thoughts: 

Me, as a true proud “mother” of many, many books, I try to go back (like a throwback) and try to read books that are finished copies, have been released for a long time, that have been in my shelves for a long time, and that people have enjoyed so much. Often being on everyone’s top favourites list, The Darkest Minds is a dystopian novel that’s been on my TBR for practically the longest time. Take it off of yours, and set it to currently-reading right away!

I must say that the thing that really intrigued me to pick this up is the fact that Alexandra Bracken was giving away ARCs of her newest novel coming out in 2016, Passenger, at BEA this year. I immediately set it onto my schedule, even without knowing if I like her writing or not. I wanted to read this on my road-trip while going there so I can discover if I really like her writing, and so I did. (Note: I didn’t get a Passenger ARC anyways, boo hoo. That’s another story to tell.) And then I got this for Christmas when I was twelve. IT’S SO HUGE AND PRECIOUS AND MINE. *pets the cover*

That’s my story of TDM’s copy of mine. And then of course, you’ll have your own, too. It’s just that I never have these interesting, eerie stories of my coming-to a good book. This is it, and this is the perfect read for any young adult reader, young or old. Brace yourself for a read full of action, nail-biting moments (mine are almost completely gone), and speechlessness afterwards where I’m unable to write a review for two weeks. 

“My mom said once that education was a privilege not afforded to everyone, but she was wrong—it wasn’t a privilege. It was our right. We had the right to a future.” (Paperback, page 214)

Involved with one of the most unique dystopian settings in all-time, Bracken delivers Ruby’s story to all of us. Ruby discovered that she was different on her tenth birthday, where she’s sent to a government camp since she’s different from the rest. She’s also lucky, since everyone else got infected with a plague that killed thousands of children. After years, Ruby escapes Thurmond, and she joins a group of (stellar) individuals whom she discovers are just like her, and they set off into rebelling and trying to prove that they too, deserve a future.

This is not your average camp.
Have you ever been faced with a situation where you simply just don’t understand why you’re stuck in it? That’s me all the time, but I must admit that our situations aren’t as governmentally-placed as Ruby’s is. Instead of being faced with an impeccable fate, Ruby’s stuck with either: getting sick and die, or having to deal with her strange powers that just showed up. Now that I think about it, a lot of this book is incorporated with the motif of fate and your destiny and future. Ruby didn’t seem lucky, but she had to go through the rain to see the rainbow. *apologizes for cheesiness* That’s the perfect saying and cliché to actually explain it all. There’s so much destructiveness in Bracken’s world, but it’s what made this book pure dystopia and unique from the usual “choose-your-destiny-Divergent” setting. I’ve never read a book like this, I get WHY you fabulous reviewers are continuously raving about this. It makes so much sense.

At the same time of the eerie and dark vibe that this book gives out, there’s a bunch of comedy (I can’t stop thinking about the Virginia-West Virginia situation) and romance that this actually is a bundle of everything. This can be the ultimate perfect way to have you loving young-adult literature, even! I am a proud fan already, I must say. (And this is actually the best book in the trilogy, as I’ve already read them all.)

“I wished that I had gone for the panic button. I wished that Cate could come and take me away from them, back to the only people who would ever embrace me for the monster I was.” (Paperback, page 287)

Manipulation and government-control and strive are also huge subjects incorporated, just to give you a little background information. AND NOW WE SPEAK OF THE ENORMOUS-PRECIOUS PLOT THAT LEFT ME OBSESSED. Where can I begin, my friends? OH. So just to let you know, I actually knew that I loved this from page one. People usually use this as an exaggeration to greatly portray their adoration and such, but it was just an ultimate feeling that I knew and loved. Although I hadn’t had the time to actually read this in one sitting (or even two), it’s not that my feelings kept me away from reading, it was the sake of time. So for future advice, I’d recommend reading this when you know you have tons of time. 

Bracken is such a fabulous writer. You know how there’s always a book that you adore, but the writing isn’t so great? This fortunately wasn’t the case. Everything about it was moving, riveting and adoring to my eyes. It seemed like the whole novel was written for the sake of informing readers that this isn’t your average life-story or life events of an unlucky teenage girl born at the wrong time period, it was something full of messages and meaning to all of life. And hey, I guess there are a bunch of scientific theories that are behind this all… just like Michelle Hodkin’s The Retribution of Mara Dyer. 

RUBY TUESDAY IS KICK-ASS TO THE FULLEST EXTENT. Kick-butt protagonists are who shape YA literature, just like Katniss Everdeen or America Singer. I felt so much guilt and sympathy for her, barely even being able to imagine what it’s like to stay in her situation. Evidently, I did read the book, but there was so much passion added into her character that’s behind the scenes and I can’t go further with her story without having to analyze those scenes and think about it.

I’M NOT GOING TO SPOIL ANYTHING ABOUT THE LOVE INTEREST BUT YOU KNOW… IT’S SO HOT. It’s steamy, rare, Ruby and him are the perfect match. You know you often are stuck in the situation of reading a book where one character has the powers and the other doesn’t, but this is even. Equal. It’s a hundred times cuter when you can talk about personal things without having to go through a crazy explanation. They just know everything about each other instantly. 

Looking back at the novel’s events, I just want to let you know that this is a whole different book than what the cover tells you (or what other people tell you). I haven’t been happy with a dystopia novel like this for a long time, and that says a lot. RUBY TUESDAY AND LIAM ARE ADORABLE, the plot is utterly satisfying, and we have a fab bunch of side characters. What more can we ask for? A bunch of powers similar to these, perhaps?

Publication: October 15, 2013, by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 512
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. 
When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. 
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

My Thoughts: 

What a surprise! As you may (or may not) have heard, The Darkest Minds made me squeal, panic, die and feel like I'm finally living and loving dystopians all over again. I hate it when you're not enjoying some genre and feel like to not give any chances anymore! With Never Fade, I was pretty disappointed compared to what my feelings exploded into during the first book. Huh.

Second-book syndrome? Second-book syndrome. After that suspenseful, cliffhanger ending of TDM, I knew that I had to begin reading the sequel as soon as possible. I expected it to be everything I've ever wanted. Thankfully after finishing it in the car, I had my Kindle with me, with a copy of this gorgeous babe in it. I started reading right away, and tried to get sucked into Bracken's world of grief, war and aggressiveness. Maybe it was the fact that I was reading in a car (distractions all over the place) and I just couldn't get into it too much which ruined a huge chunk of the rest of my experience reading this, I'm not sure. 

"I used to dream about turning back time, about reclaiming the things I'd lost and the person I used to be. But not anymore." (Loc 56)

This does actually begin off a few months from where the last book left readers off with, and I do admit that I was interested. Ruby now knows what she's doing in the Children's League. Unlike the many other children and people who are struck by the horrifying conditions and powers (having dark minds, after all) who don't know what they're doing, Ruby is like the leader and she has the most experience from everyone. But now, she tries to escape the League and find Liam, who may be in tons of trouble.

No, from the looks of my word choice and gif used, you may suspect that I got annoyed from something. I DIDN'T, I PROMISE. It's just that I was a little bored (512 freaking pages, people!) and some things weren't needed. Meh. 100 pages could've been taken out and I wouldn't flinch at all. These are the kinds of things that need to be put into consideration I feel when someone writes a novel! What did I want? A better plot filled with less focus-on-structure and more focus on action and giving us some answers. I felt like Liam's disappearance was just another addition to make the trilogy head on longer and seem longer. But don’t you stress and fidget, my fellow Alexandra Bracken lovers. I love her work, too, and this was just something that headed in the wrong way for me. Most of you loved it, anyways. THIS IS NOWHERE CLOSE TO AN ONE-STAR RATING, PEOPLE. I pray that you hadn’t thought that. Or else then, we’d need to bring the big guys in. 

This went in the direction that most sequels go through—the rebellion stage of the protagonist. Ruby really showed her anger and rage stage by stage throughout. I felt her strength increase and her understanding of what happened to her family strengthen. I’m proud to say that she’s grown up more and Bracken threw her in a puddle of character development. She never faded. She stayed confident and didn’t let the stupid influences around her continue to torture and ask her to do something new. She is why literature and readers revolve around her and praise her. Realistic characters make up and sew a bond with readers. 

"Oh, I'm sorry," Chubs said, 'apparently the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours. Do continue."

I think we all know where this is leading us to. LIAMMMMM MY NORTH CAROLINA SWEETHEART. I find myself always fangirling about some guy in a fictional novel to all of my friends, and I guess that it truly means something when you find a new one to replace the last one you had. Liam's mine, and I guess that he's the one I dream about at night... or at least, I hope I do dream about him. I worried like a mother would worry for her child, I thought that he'd die I knew that Ruby wouldn't let him go and she'd do whatever it took to go after him and find him. Usually it's the guy who searches for his girl, but Ruby was his saviour, and in a way, he was hers too. How often do you find a couple ultimately completing each other? Rarely. AND THEN WE HAVE CLANCY, WHO IS LIFE. He certainly is a true villain, but I feel something that's safe about him. He's always there for our protagonist and is willing to discover the answers to their abilities. 

If you hate abrupt endings, then you'll hate this. I WAS SO SHOCKED AND UGHEUGHEWBHBGW MY FEELINGS EXPLODED. I won't let you know anything, not even a peep, but they meant something to me, but I kind of get why it happened. (Vida was such a bitch.) 

If you dislike boring non-moving points, character struggles (Vida. We didn't get to know her so much, either!) and a killing ending, then you'll kind of go nuts. But you obviously need to read this, although it kind of disappointed me. But then again, this completely leads to the last book of the trilogy where we discover what the ending will bring to the characters, and see why everyone adores Bracken's writing. Just like I do. The Darkest Minds Never Fade... and that's a sure thing for all of the characters.

Have you ever experienced Alexandra's work before? What are your thoughts?

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