{Review} THE DARKEST MINDS Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken



O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    WHEN THE WHITE NOISE WENT OFF, we were in the garden, pulling weeds. 
    I always reacted badly to it. It didn't matter if I was outside, eating in the Mess Hall, or locked in my cabin. When it came, the shrieking tones blew up like a pipe bomb between my ears.Other girls at Thurmond could pick themselves up after a few minutes, shaking off the nausea and disorientation like the loose grass clinging to their camp uniforms. But me? Hours would pass before I was able to piece myself back together.
    This time should have been no different.
    But it was.
(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

“They were never scared of the kids who might die, or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us--the ones who lived.”

This month, I've been re-reading Alexandra Bracken's #1 New York Times Best Selling series The Darkest Minds. The first book is coming to theaters NEXT WEEK and, on top of that excitement, Bracken is also releasing a book entitled THE DARKEST LEGACY next week, which takes place five years after the events of The Darkest Minds and stars Zu! (I'm about 3/4 through THE DARKEST LEGACY and hope to finish tonight, so look for my review next week!)

I have been reading Bracken since I randomly picked up her brand-new novel, BRIGHTLY WOVEN, off the New Release shelf at the store and instantly fell in love. I started following her online blog, back when she was still writing The Darkest Minds--which was then called Black is the Color. She would have scavenger hunts where you could find teaser bits here and there. Dystopian was still a very young genre at the time, so the story was unlike others out there! I'm so excited to see these books come to the big screen next month, and so very proud of how far the author has come and where she is today!

Because I re-read everything back-to-back, it's easier for me to just do a big review of the entire series as a whole. SPOILER FREE, of course! 

The series revolves around a world where every child in the United States has fallen to a disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration, or IAAN. As they hit puberty, they either die or develop special abilities. RED kids are pyrokinetic. ORANGE kids have control over mind and memory. YELLOW kids have power over electricity. BLUE kids are telekinetic. GREEN kids have heightened intelligence and are excellent code breakers. Reds and Oranges are considered the most dangerous to society, while Blues and Greens are considered the least dangerous. Yellows are smack in the middle.

Kids with IAAN are sent to camps reminiscent of Japanese Internment Camps. The main character of the series, Ruby Elizabeth Daly, is sent to one of the first camps. She is an Orange, but saw how the other Orange kids were treated and used her abilities to influence the sorters by stating that she was Green in order to hide her abilities. It was lucky she did this because at her camp, Reds and Oranges were sent away, never to return. The kids were either executed or sent elsewhere to be experimented on. But now, Ruby's luck has run out. During a test to see if the camp has any Oranges in hiding, she is detected and removed from camp. She manages to escape and runs into three other teens who have recently escaped from a different camp: Liam Stewart (Blue), Charles "Chubs" Meriwether (Blue), and Suzume "Zu"Kimura (Yellow).

And...it's really hard to talk about the series as a whole without spoilers galore. Let's just say that over the course of the three books, the quartet learns a lot of government secrets, gets into heaps of trouble, and does its best to bring down the government, free the camps, and re-unite the nation. There is a lot resting on their shoulders, but they have the ability to save their generation...or destroy it.

Reading this again in 2018, it was stunning to see how "current" the book still is. There are so many horrible things happening in today's society reflected in these pages. Canada and Mexico have built borders to keep the US out (IAAN hasn't really spread outside of the USA). People will shoot first and ask questions later. Kids are in camps, torn viciously away from their parents. Hate groups have popped up everywhere. And on and on and on. It resonates even more today than it did when I first read it, and makes the world these teens are living in even scarier.

The Darkest Minds is full of heartache and triumph. It explores romance, first love, learning how to stand up for yourself, learning how to be selfless for a better cause. It is one of the best dystopian series in the genre, especially now. If you are like, "But ughhhhh, dystopian." Don't worry! So was I. I was afraid to re-read this. A couple of years ago, I tried reading a dystopian series I had put off for a while that I had heard incredible things about and I was just....so over the genre. I couldn't do it. I had just read too many at that point and was done with it. But it's been a few years. And this one resonates with today's times in a way that not all the books in the genre do. These are scary times, and the characters and their world are instantly relatable.

I'm actually really glad that Bracken decided to re-visit the world with THE DARKEST LEGACY. I was curious about why she chose Zu as the main character, instead of someone brand-new. But it made a lot of sense once I began reading, and her world five years later is STILL reminiscent of today's in other ways--but I'll talk to you more about that book next week when it releases!

I'm looking forward to watching the movie in August. I was nervous at first: So many YA fantasy movies don't adapt well. The Hunger Games did. Divergent did not. The trailers didn't tell me much one way or the other. Until the latest trailer. Oh, until this trailer! If you don't know the series and don't want spoilers, I'd recommend not watching this trailer. But if you know the books, as soon as you see this trailer, you'll be as hopeful as I am for how faithful they're (hopefully) going to be to the book! If you're new to the series, I think you should watch the second embedded trailer instead! ^.~

Check out the trailer
for The Darkest Minds
out AUGUST 3rd, 2018

YouTube Link

Want to try out THE DARKEST MINDS? Here's a video with my thoughts on the recently-released movie cover editions:

Here's a full summary for the novel THE DARKEST MINDS:


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( Kissing; making out; allusion to characters having sex offscreen towards the end of the series)
Language: PG13 ( Cursing, including F bombs. )
Violence: PG13 ( Characters die. There are guns and bombings and torture at the camps and bounty hunters doing unsavory things to claim kids for money. )
Other:  --

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Movie Cover Editions Released June 26, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Received: Purchased

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America's children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who have 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 having a life worth living.