Go. Read. This.Book
End discussion 🙂
Ok…not really I do SO love to chat.
But in all seriousness, I have been reading a LOT of books in this genre recently (I might have OCD tendencies) and this has been one of my favorites. If you liked Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Legend, Under the Never Sky etc. and you are looking for another good series you really, REALLY should read this one. And if you already have….well then join me and please lets chat!!
One of the defining differences between books I really enjoy and a book I will buy in Kindle and then again in hardcover (and probably for at least one of my sisters/mother/closest friend/stranger in a bookstore) is the message. Plenty of lovely books are wonderful simply because the story is good and the characters are relatable. I would rather curl up with a really great story any day than a book trying to beat me over the head with life lessons…However, when a fantastic story comes along with a subtle but meaningful message…well…that’s just about my favorite thing EVER.
The Darkest Minds is one of those books.
While many generations have stared down the barrel of their mortality and considered the possibility that the world as they know it may collapse in their lifetime, I can’t help but think the fear has escalated in the last twenty years.
With the dawn of the internet and those pesky hand help computers glued to our hands (I’m as guilty as the next person there) our world has grown smaller and our access to information nearly infinite, it’s not necessarily GOOD information or even ACCURATE but damn if it’s not super duper available. Amidst the soil of speculation and nourished by the endless supply of data tailored to fit our individual brand of terror many of us have come to consider not one but endless ways in which our existence might crumble. And so we are drawn to these stories holding them up like a mirror to the real world and asking, “How close are we?” “What would it take to get to that point?” and “How would I respond?”
The Darkest Minds is an excellent example of this kind of book, serving up a socioeconomic implosion scenario with a glorious mix of scifi, adventure and romance. (I mean right about there you should know I was going to love it)
I was immediately intrigued by IAAN and the Psi abilities. The idea that thousands of surviving children were dragged off to concentration camp like places out of fear was horrifying but…not inconceivable. Fear truly is a driving theme in this book. Initially we are faced with Ruby’s soul crushing fear of herself and how it has shaped her. When we first meet Ruby she struck me as a little empty I couldn’t get a feel for her personality and I wasn’t sure I would come to care for her. Shortly after she joined up with the crew in Black Betty however it dawned on me how realistic that had been. It was heartbreaking to imagine her ripped out of her childhood and turned into a shell of a girl. I loved the process of watching her color in her personality and blossom into a protective, clever young woman.
Life lessons aside though, my favorite parts of this book involved Liam, Chubs and Zu…(and Black Betty) How could they not? Should a total breakdown of society occur I would gladly face it with those three!
Chubs!!! Oh Chubs! I love him. I think he might actually be my spirit animal. I wish I could say that if I ever found myself knee deep in a zombie apocalypse I’d be Liam, Ruby or even Zu but the truth is I’d probably be exactly like Chubs; fiercely loyal, overly anxious, occasionally short tempered, carrying around hand sanitizer, med kits and captaining up team reality. (I’m not nearly as organized as he is but I WOULD try and cart around all my books). In the end I would probably be ok so long as I had someone like Zu to give me focus and remind me why life is worth fighting for.
Zu just made the big sister in me want to reach into the pages of the darn book lift her out and carry her away to safety. Obviously Chubs, Liam and Ruby all felt the same way and it bound them together but it was also clear that Zu was as protective of them as they were of her. She was certainly no shrinking violet (voice or no voice) and when push came to shove she held her own.
Liam. *sigh* your heart kinda ached for him no?? Liam was a great leader but he wasn’t wonder boy and I appreciated that! He had skills, a plan and the love and devotion of his companions but he did not have all the answers and he did not just so happen to be some bad ass ninja who could oh so conveniently save the day every time the crew almost got caught…which was A LOT…if fact if I had one complaint about this book it was that they almost got caught in every other chapter! Liam made mistakes, failed his friends and carried the burden of his choices. As the love interest he was perfectly adorable and I believed the budding relationship between he and Ruby.
Sometimes I struggle with how often YA novels preach “love at first sight”..or love after a week and a half in a car…. But, ya know what? I GET this. These kids were SO alone SO desperately in need of each other. They ALL clung to each other with a kind of ferocity that seemed totally reasonable given that the rest of the world had stripped them of their lives and abandoned them to hell.
Surprisingly…I was not even furious in the end when Ruby decides to push the panic button to save Chubs (thank the LORD) and then clears herself from Liam’s memory. Perhaps I saw it coming but it seemed clear that it wouldn’t last forever and I think I was glad it happened right away in the first book rather than later on. (I might have hit something if it had been in book 3) While it DOES seem to confirm my theory that there is an unspoken rule that the love interests must not be together in the second book I thought Ruby’s justification was rational. Liam makes it very, very clear that he hates the League and that it could have destroyed him…how could Ruby not consider letting him go? Ruby herself while no longer jumping out of her skin every time someone touches her still believes she is a monster…. So, while she may have been a touch dramatic (what 17yo isn’t?) she had plenty of experience with the monstrous actions of other Oranges to justify her conclusion.
Ruby made a choice. A choice you aren’t sure was right or even hers to make…. But that was one of those fantastic little messages I loved so much…this book was all about choices. The choices we make out of fear and the choices we make out of love, and the consequences of both.