The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is the first book in a dystoipian trilogy in which, all of the children in the country are infected with a deadly disease called IAAN. Those who survive IAAN contract supernatural powers which are classified by the government by sectioning them off into different colored categories. Each color is unique to the type of ability and the kids are all placed in camps where they are oppressed by the adults who fear them. The Darkest Minds was the March book of the month for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge Book Club and I’m going to be reviewing it in a different format than usual. A list of discussion questions were posted in regard to the book and I’m going to be answering them here. Before I start, my general feelings about The Darkest Minds were not what I had been hoping for. It may be that I’ve lost interest in dystopian novels but it took me nearly 3 weeks to read this book (which is a really long time for me). There were elements that I enjoyed, such as Bracken’s writing but because it took me so long I was unable to form any type of real attachment to the characters. I did not feel as invested in the story as I might have several years ago which makes me sad. I can’t decide if I’ll be continuing with the series at this point but if I do, it will be sometime unforeseeable future.
*THIS DISCUSSION CONTAINS SPOILERS*
1) If you contracted IAAN, which category would you want to be in? (Red, Fire; Orange, Mind Control; Yellow, Electricity; Blue, Telekinesis; Green, Intelligence)
I really feel as though I would fall into the Green category as I’m often commended on my memory sans a newly contracted ability. Plus, I’m a Ravenclaw so Green would have to be the best fit.
2) What were you initial impressions? Do you like the writing style? Did the prologue pique your interest?
As I stated in my intro, while I did enjoy the writing style, I wasn’t ever fully invested in the story. The prologue definitely did pique my interest as it began with an action scene and left me wanting to know what the sound was and why Ruby was effected. I think The Darkest Minds had a very strong start but it wasn’t until the near end that I got that same sense of wonder.
3) Thoughts on Ruby wiping Liam’s mind? Is it for the best?
I’m really torn on this one! Part of me feels like it was a betrayal of trust but the other part can understand why she did what she did.
4) What do you think about the government’s way of “dealing” with the kids with special powers? Why did they send them to work camps where they were mistreated and abused, instead of trying to understand/study their abilities, or even training the kids and use their powers?
I think the government’s way of dealing the special powers is completely unacceptable. It’s obvious that the adults are terrified of the unknown and they came up with what they believed would be the safest way for them to preserve the society they’re familiar with instead of trying to learn about the abilities and work together to create a safe future for everyone as opposed to a limited group. I don’t think it’s right to separate children from their parents and haul them off into a prison-like atmosphere when they are just beginning to learn about themselves.
5) Ruby is very scared, naive and distrustful (which is completely understandable after what she’s been through). Do you find her to be a believable character? What did you think about her character development?
I never felt any real connection to Ruby which could partially be due to the wall she’s built around herself. I saw definite redeeming qualities within her and I can understand how she would be appealing to other readers, she just didn’t totally resonate with me. As for how believable her character is, if anything, I’m surprised she wasn’t even more distrusting and unwilling to set out with Chubs, Liam and Zu.
6) How did you feel about the relationship between Ruby and Liam? Did you think it was rushed?
I didn’t totally understand how their relationship formed so quickly. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them at all and I was surprised at how much Ruby liked him by the end of the book.
7) Do you think the story line is bullet-proof or did you have any issues with the plot-line and the logic behind the world-building?
I did have some issues with the story and the world-building but with most YA I go into it suspending most disbelief because stories are just that- stories. While they’re engaging and it’s fun to fall into a different world, I find that there’s rarely anything that’s perfect. Not even our own world!
8) Do you think Chubs is okay? Do you have any predictions for how things will turn out for him?
I have to say that I am quite worried about Chubs. He is the character I came closest to developing concern for, especially in the latter half of the book. He seems like such a nice introvert and I hated how he was being treated by his original squad.
9) How do you think things will turn out for Zu? Why do you think Clancy approved her group to leave in the first place?
I think Clancy approved for Zu’s group to leave solely to get her out of the camp. I think he wanted to tear down as many of Ruby’s allies as possible because she’s the only real threat to him when it comes down to it.
10) What are your opinions of Clancy? Is he redeemable? Do you think he really would have run?
In my eyes, Clancy is not redeemable. I thought he was shady the moment he appeared on the page and I never trusted him at all. Things were too controlled and too perfect for him to have been a good person.
11) How do you imagine things panning out for Ruby and Liam? Will he ever get his memories back? Do you think he’ll hold it against Ruby when (or if?) he finds out?
If I had to guess, I would hypothesize that Ruby will learn how to restore Liam’s memories and while he’ll initially feel betrayed by her, he will ultimately end up forgiving her (probably sometime in book 3) and they’ll end up together.
12) How did you react to the end? Did you cry? (Jess BAWLED. For a considerable amount of time. Like, at least half an hour.) Do you plan to read the next book–and if you do, will you jump in soon, or are you going to give some time in between because the end to this one was so traumatizing?