Review The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

Review The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

Synopsis: 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.

Rating: 5/5 stars                                                                              
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
My thoughts:
“Time to carpe the hell out of this diem.”
Holy shit. What to do with my life now that I finished this beauty of a book?
I am late to the party, as always, but better late than never. By a few years but I picked The Darkest Minds up because I've had enough of not having a clue about this "beautiful series" (like I also do with Delirium, The Raven Circle and Mara Dyer -- don't worry, you're next). Well let me tell you something: OHMYGOD THE FEELS. That pretty much sums up this book. And I'm sooo grateful I finally read it, because now I can binge-read the whole series and I don't have to bear the usual miserable waiting.
I loved everything about it. The original concept, the action-driven plot, the complex characters and the lovely writing style. Now that I really think about it, it reminded me (just a bit) of The Young Elites, because in both books the story is centered on a group of kids who survived a disease and got the honor of obtaining incredible abilities. That's the end of it though, since the execution is totally different and one is a fantasy while the other is a dystopia.

“We had to find a way to amuse ourselves because we had no stories—no dreams, no future—other than the ones we created for ourselves.”
The main character, Ruby, is a kick-ass girl. Ruby completely bewildered me, since in the beginning I thought she's gonna be one of those shy, insipid heroines. Fortunately, I was wrong -- she's brave, smart, rational and strong-willed, not to mention ambitious and protective. Maybe naive on the edges, but regardless of her flaws, she'll win your hearts over in no time.
Ah, and the love interest is swoon-worthy! Liam Steward will have you gushing and sighing from the get-go and it's not because he's a macho, stuck-up hottie, but because he's heart achingly humble, kind, funny and honest. Okay, his looks don't hurt either, but that's beside the point. *wink*
“He's so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they're holding in their hand.”
But by far my favorite aspect of the whole story was the romance between Ruby and Liam. It astounded me how natural it felt, how easily it developed and how meant to be it was. These two just clicked and I honestly believe that they're better together than they are alone and that they triggered the character-development in one another. I loved that they first developed a friendship and I loved that they earned each other's thrust before moving on to more serious stuff. And I absolutely adored the fact that the author didn't skip over the hand-holding, cuddling and kiss on the cheek milestones that people often ignore (truly cuteness overall, I'm telling you).
“Never, never, never. I am never going to forget you."
I bet you experienced lots of times when an author forces two characters together, but not Alexandra Bracken, because she created these two so flawlessly. It's been a time since I could use words such as "adorable", "cute" and "asdfghjkl" to describe a couple, not to mention a couple based in a book filled with dire situations like this one. But they did give me butterflies; they did plaster a goofy smile on my face and they did make my heart thump nervously whenever they were entering romantic territory -- and this is all because Bracken gave them the value they deserved and she transformed them into the beacon of light this story needed in order to feel complete.
“Did you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forget to breath? I'll be looking at you, and my chest will get so tight...and it's like, the only thought in my head is how much I want to reach over and kiss you.”
The rest of the characters were equally intriguing. I especially loved Suzume (who is just precious) and Chubs, but who wouldn't, really? They're awesome. There was another character (I'm not gonna say who it is if by some miracle I'm not the last human being on Earth to have not read this story) I found quite complex, but my black heart was broken a bit by "it" in the end; it wouldn't hurt to see some redemption in the next books regarding this character, I'd probably admire the author even more.
“It feels like we should do something,” he said. “Like, send her off on a barge out to sea and set her on fire. Let her go out in a blaze of glory.”
Chubs raised an eyebrow. “It’s a minivan, not a Viking.”
I'll be honest with you, for three quarters of the book I said I'll rate The Darkest Minds as a 4 stars read. I was enjoying it very much, I fell in love with the characters, but still. Something was missing. That last part though made the freaking difference. So many stuff happened. So many guy-wrenching scenes. SO MANY FEELS. *wipes away tears*
And that's the moment when I got why everyone's in love with the series -- because this book, despite its SF and dystopian traits, somehow feels real. The relationships, the characters, the fears, the dreams -- I could connect to every single thing. There is blood-pumping action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There's a toe-curling romance. There are heartwarming friendships and wannabe rivalries. There's a strong, well-developed plot and a believable world-building. There's truly anything you could possibly want.
I don't know what else to say that the other thousands of reviews haven't already said. I'm possibly starstruck by The Darkest Minds and I can assure you that Alexandra Bracken is officially on my automatic wishlist. I suggest you read this book -- if it's for your first time, you'll be hooked; if it's the nth time, I think you won't mind a lovely re-read. Blood-pumping, heartwarming and bittersweet, The Darkest Minds is a gorgeous read.
“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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