Review Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

Review Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

Synopsis: 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?
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science-Fiction

My thoughts:
“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”
Okay, I need to ramble.
Do you ever feel that you're somehow forced to continue reading a book just because you fell head over heels in love with its prequel? Like you need to finish the sequel to not disappoint and betray your beloved reads?? Well, I certainly do. Freshest evidence, Never Fade, triggered that feeling for me, thanks to my officially never ending love for The Darkest Minds. Couple that with my need to finish any book once I've started it, and you have me reading any crappy sequel till the end (losing my free time in the process) even if I don't enjoy it. Yeah, I'm loyal like that.
But the thing is, I'm grateful for it in most instances, because otherwise I would've DNFed a lot of books that turned out really good in the end. Case in point as well. Honestly, from my point of view, the first half lacked a lot of things and if I were to rate it accordingly, I would probably give it a 2 stars rating. *cringes* Trust me, admitting this HURTS.
Let me develop (mild spoilers ahead): I missed Zu. I missed Liam. I missed Chubs. I even missed goddamn Clancy. I missed East River, I missed Black Betty and I missed the dynamic of our four-figured group. Want to know why? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO LONGER A GROUP. I was stuck inside Ruby's head and although the girl is admirable and badass, she was a freaking robot in the feelings department. I needed her to be a little more human. She was like a vamp from TVD with the switch turned off. Or like Celaena in one of her killing-spree phases without the actual killing. The desire to shake some sense into her was unnerving.
“Who I was and who I had been disconnected, leaving me stranded somewhere in the middle.”
And that was my main issue regarding Ruby -- I couldn't quite connect with her because she kept these walls up all around her, turning into a cold, overly rational and uncaring person. She was this numb shell whose only goal was survival in the snake's pit -- the Children's League -- and not becoming a product of its laws, without realizing that that only speeded up the process.
“I’m so tired of this,” I told him. “I know I don’t have any right to be; I know I did this to us, to myself, but I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m so tired of everything, of all of this, and knowing it’s never going to get any better—that nothing I do will ever make anything better. I’m so sick of it all.”
Then there was the subtle sensation from the first chapters of info-dump due to the lapse in time from the end of TDM and the start of NF, like meeting the new characters in a matter of pages -- Jude, Nico, Vida, Cole, Alban -- and updating on the known ones such as Cate and Rob. Then the countless scenes with bloody fights from the earlier parts that painted the whole book in a dark, scary shade from which I couldn't completely extract myself from once I put the book down. Oh, and that. The whole putting-the-book-down craving that happened a lot and that implicitly made me finish the book in 3 days -- because I. Was. Bored.
Yep, the plethora of action scenes had me skipping paragraphs to get to more interesting stuff, but, sadly, there weren't any nearby. I wanted a plot with defined elements to keep me engaged, but all I was getting were rather dull attempts of inducing some rush into my yawning system.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he breathed out. “I feel like…I feel like I’m losing my damn mind, like your face has been carved into my heart, and I don’t remember when, and I don’t understand why, but the scar is there, and I can’t get it to heal. It won’t go. I can’t make it fade. And you won’t even look at me.”
Miraculously, when the second half tipped over, it was all sunshine and rainbows and flying unicorns because I was suddenly getting almost everything I wanted (the things happening in the book, however, were pretty shitty but RAINBOWS AND SUNSHINE AND UNICORNS YAAAAY).
And that's the reason why, after enduring that downright unexpected first part, I was so happy to see it finally turn around into a 4-5 stars area that previously enraptured me in the first book. Ruby started to de-mummify herself back into the brave, intelligent and protective young woman I cheered in TDM and I felt like doing a happy dance. The glorious romance was back in full-swing with a side of anguish, deceit and gut-wrenching vulnerability that only amplified my adoration for the couple (I did say that they're better together than separated, didn't I?) and it turned out oh-so-great for my love-hungry, sappy heart. *sigh*
“If a heart could break once, it shouldn’t have been able to happen again. But here I was, and here he was, and it was all so much more terrible than I ever could have imagined.”
Afterwards I finally managed to get attached to the secondary characters and see them develop friendships with the old gang (Chubs + Vida anyone?) and they got a laugh out of me every now and then and that's all I was hoping for. The varied array of twists and turns were ranging from "oh, how could I not see that" to "HA! I CALLED IT!" and to "SWEET BABY JESUS NO FREAKING WAY". I was kept on the edge of my seat until the very end, which, by the way, was a powerful blow, one that had me a bit scared about what's to come, broke my heart into pieces and, somehow, managed to plaster a smug grin on my face at the same time ("suck it, asshole").
Also, I really loved Cole. And Cate. But COLE. *swoons* I need to find a Stewart of my own, because hot damn.
“I look at you, and I just love you, and it terrifies me. It terrifies me what I would do for you.”
To sum up, I'd say that Never Fade is a solid, powerful sequel. Not spectacular, not perfect, not splendid -- but enjoyable and exciting nonetheless, like a gem that needs some polishing or a cake with delicious fruit flavors at the bottom. Darker than I would've expected (and maybe liked), this book delivers the swoony romance, action-packed storyline and holy-shit-twists we've come to expect from Bracken, even though in a more unbalanced manner than in TDM. Heartbreaking, captivating and thrilling, Never Fade brings the stakes up a notch and paves a glorious way for the third installment, In the Afterlight, to hopefully end this series with a bang. Now I'm off to find whether or not my wish turns true. *grabby hands*

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