Cover of The Darkest Minds, with a golden trident symbol on a concrete wall surrounded by barbed wire

About the Book

Title: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
Published: 2012
Series: The Darkest Minds
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: Palmettos
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Superpowers, Homecoming
Relationship Status: Fun First Date

Cover Story: Palmettos 

So, when I was a kid, Guess jeans (with the triangle patch on the back pocket) were, like, THE SHIZZ. But if for some crazy reason, your mom (read: my mom) thought it was ridiculous to spend that much money on jeans for a nine-year-old, you had to settle for Palmettos. Palmettos were like, the Monet of Guess jeans. From far away, they looked similar, mostly due to the triangle shaped patch on the backet pocket. But if you got close, you could easily see that instead of the Guess question mark on the patch, there was a palm tree. A PALM TREE IS NOT THE SAME AS A QUESTION MARK–something my mom seemed to NEVER understand. ANYWAY, my point is, this cover is the Palmettos of Divergent. It’s perfectly fine, but it’s an obvious copy of a trendsetter.

The Deal:

So check it: A mysterious virus has swept across the U.S., killing the majority of its children when they reach the age of ten. You’d think that the surviving kids would be lucky, but this is a dystopia, bish! Turns out that if you survive the virus, it leaves you equipped with a special power. Some kids can move objects with their minds; others can fry electronics with a mere touch. Some, like Ruby, can even manipulate the minds of others. Hauled into “rehabilitation camps,” these survivors, known as Psi, are treated as prisoners, with the worst offenders (labeled Red and Orange) sent off to an unknown fate. Pretending to have a lesser power, Ruby has escaped notice, but when her true identity as an Orange threatens to be revealed, she manages to flee the camp and join up with a trio of Psi looking for the Slip Kid, a legendary figure rumored to provide safe haven for kids with powers. But how long can Ruby maintain her secret? And will she learn to control her powers… before they control her?

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

I really liked Ruby, and in spite of her severe emotional baggage, she manages to stay strong in the face of oppression and even death. But girlfriend needs to QUIT with the self-hate. She’s got a badass power, and every time she felt ashamed or freaked out because people might think she’s a “monster,” I wanted to yell WHAT ARE YOU DOING. WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING. Girl, you can read minds! THAT IS AWESOME! Stop with the shrinking violet act and embrace your awesomeness! I mean, yes, I realize that Ruby shouldn’t *flaunt* her powers, since that might be wrong and/or get her killed by the government. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have a little fun in the high school cafeteria. (Which, I realize, is empty, because all of the kids are dead or in a camp. But WHATEVER you get the gist.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

When Ruby runs into a trio of Psi kids, she feels an instant attraction to Liam, their leader. It’s not insta-love, thank god, and it builds nicely throughout the story. Liam is kind and brave and selfless and… zzzzz. Yep, he’s boring. I’m sorry, but he is! I mean, he’s a great guy, and Ruby would obviously benefit from a stable relationship with him, but man, this batch of romance is sorely in need of some spice. Thankfully, Alexandra Bracken throws in a twist (that I won’t spoil for you) that adds some flavor, but overall, this is a vanilla kind of swoon.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

I really dug Bracken’s direct style and excellent sense of pacing. She keeps the action coming but never neglects Ruby’s emotions. The scenario of the story is a little hard to swallow (like, seriously? Parents are just like, “Dang, the government took my kid. Oh well.”), but your objections will fade once the plot plunges you forward. In spite of a few lulls, this novel is a definite page turner, although the momentum stems not so much from your concern over characters but rather a curiosity about what Bracken could dish out next.

Bonus Factor: Superpowers

Sure, they’re taken from their parents and persecuted by the government. But kids with superpowers are still AWESOME.

Bonus FactorHomecoming

Ok, so there’s no fancy dresses and ridiculous mums in this book. I’m talking about Homecomingthe book by Cynthia Voigt that I loved, loved, LOVED as a tween. It’s the story of four siblings abandoned by their mother who set out on a journey to find a distant relative. Even though the novel is a bit of a Debbie Downer, I was always inspired by these kids fending for themselves and persevering in spite of the odds. After Ruby joins up with Liam and the other two Psi kids (Chubs and Zu, who is adorable), their journey totally reminded me of the Tillerman’s quest, a road of desperation peppered by tiny, true moments of happiness.

Relationship Status: Fun First Date

I was a little skeptical when this book asked me out. After all, I’ve dated a LOT of dystopias, and most of them were shallow or unoriginal. But this book really showed me a good time! It was interesting and exciting, and even though it never surprised me (in fact, I saw one of its moves coming from a mile away), our date was totally solid. I’m not head over heels or anything, but when this book asks me out again in sequel form, I will definitely say yes.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Hyperion  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.