Published: December 18th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 498 (e-arc)
Copy: Publisher via Netgalley
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
By the time I had finished reading The Darkest Minds ,it had worked its way to the top of my favourite reads list, but it took a while to get there. I didn't immediately fall under the spell of Ms Bracken's story, I struggled a little at first, but eventually it is like falling under a spell. The story and the characters suck you in and you can't stop reading.
Ruby is such a broken child that it is hard not to feel immense sympathy for her. She is struggling to understand a 'gift' that feels like a curse, and she has been locked away and treated in the most appalling manner. Bracken's description of the camp that Ruby is in - Thurmond - is reminiscent of something that would have been found during the 2nd world war. It is gritty, dark and totally unsympathetic in every way.
Ruby's relationship with Liam is tempered by her fear of what she is capable of doing to him, so it is no surprise that she latches on to Clancy, because she assumes he can teach her what she needs to know. Clancy is a complex character and the complete opposite of Liam, who is basically an open book. I don't want to give spoilers here so I won't say any more about them, but there is one point in the book where I could actually feel my stomach churning because I knew something was coming - I just wasn't sure what. I was so involved, that my surprise and disappointment mirrored Ruby's own.
There are some secondary characters - Chubs and Zu - who are also wonderfully complete and complex and who play an integral part in the story. Ruby's interaction with them is very real and believable. There are twists and turns throughout the book, some I was expecting and many that took me completely by surprise. Ms Bracken's world building here is superb. The writing is lyrical, the mystery is compelling and the romance is bittersweet. I just loved it.
According to her page on Goodreads we can expect to see two more volumes in this tale, and I for one am really, really keen to see them. She has also written Brightly Woven, which came out in 2010, which I'm off to find now.