BOOK REVIEW: THE DARKEST MINDS BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN

I found a review on Goodreads that perfectly puts into words how I feel about this book.

(Author: Mitch)

(cuss words have been removed; points that I personally REALLY agreed with are in bold)

"On the surface, The Darkest Minds has a lot more going for it than your typical dystopian. It's incredibly dark and disturbing, but more than that, there's a certain realism to Alexandra Bracken's writing that makes the plot believable in a way few other books in the genre are. Yeah I'm frustrated, but not because this book is a generic dystopian - it's not, not because the plot calls for kids being rounded up in concentration camps and shot in the back - though that happens, but because I feel like this is a book with massive potential derailed by poor execution.

For one, the concentration camp angle really bothers me, but not for the reasons you might think. We've had internment camps in this country before, so I'm not going to question whether it's realistic the government can round up kids and lock them up - it's a stark reminder of what could happen, except to say, if all the kids are either dead or locked up, and having more is illegal for fear of more tiny terrors with psychic powers running around, yeah, the United States isn't going to survive once the last twenty something dies of old age, no? Just something I wish Bracken would’ve considered.

But beyond that, it’s the way Bracken handles the concentration camps that really irks me, because I am not a fan of writing bad guys to be incredibly sadistic for no reason other than to score sympathy points for the victims. It just never works for me. And that’s exactly what happens here, we have adult guards rifle butting and mentally abusing little kids, and for what? So I can feel sorry for Ruby and the other child victims? It’s strange, because Bracken actually has an out - the Oranges, the kids with mind control powers, some of them really are mentally unstable and get the guards to shoot each other, and if I were a guard at a place like that I’d be scared like [heck] and might take my constant paranoia out on the kids. That psychological angle would’ve at least given a point to all the child abuse (besides as cheap emotional manipulation), but I don’t think Bracken worked that distinction into the story until too late - until my impression of a camp run by sociopaths for housing sociopaths made me want to fling my copy of the book across the room.

Then Ruby manages to escape, and for one glorious moment I thought my frustration would be over - but turns out... not even close. Because this is a book with no end game, no direction, none of the characters, Ruby included, really knows what the heck they’re doing. So Ruby basically stumbles around from one ‘bad guy’ organization (the U.S. government) to another before she just happens to fall in with Liam, Chubs, and Zu and go on the lamest road trip ever. I think my eyes started glazing over as they’re driving around, because Liam is completely bland and not an interesting character in the slightest, Liam and Ruby together are a total fail, Chubs and Zu have their moments of brilliance but end up contributing very little to the overall plot, and the whole thing just meandered around until just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of it they get shot at by bounty hunters or somebody and my interest is briefly sparked until their pursuers are dealt with and I’m back to being bored.
The whole time, none of them really has a plan for what they're going to do, it's mostly Ruby wanting to learn more about her powers while the others stick with her because they don't have anywhere better to go I guess? And this cycles three or four times as they’re going up and down the Eastern Seaboard looking for this supposed hiding place where they’d be safe and where Ruby can learn more about her powers, and the only thing it ultimately does for me is remind me that journeys which are just a string of random plot points assembled together usually aren’t very interesting unless you’re doing it Jumanji style by hitting the characters with various dangerous jungle obstacles at the roll of a dice.

So finally, the three four of them make it to the sanctuary they were looking for. Interestingly enough, I’m not spoiling anything, this is all in the summary, but two thirds of the book has already gone by. Anyway, after being introduced to *two* evil organizations already, neither of which has been sufficiently developed to make them compelling enough for me to actually care whether they’re a threat or not, I’m introduced to another group that may or may not be evil and I’m trying to think what the heck Bracken’s trying to do with all these groups and... I have no clue. Something about using the kids to take control of the country, but how does group one figure with groups two and three? None of the groups really interact with each other, characters pop up, do stuff, then disappear again, and I'm really left with zero idea why Ruby would choose to work with any one of these groups over the others... well, besides the government, since they’ve been torturing her for years.

Sure, there are a few reveals at the camp, but nothing I couldn't guess from before, and no real information that would actually tell me where the plot is going - how are Ruby and her friends going to take down the evil dystopian government? What's the point of the Children's League? What's their game? And was that just a rape scene I read and nobody really says anything? [<---THIS] And you know, the ending, I supposed I should be shocked or outraged or something, but considering I never actually liked Liam, he didn’t do much of anything during the book, I don’t think I’ll miss him.


In short, the best part of the book, writing wise at least, was the first couple of chapters describing the horrors of the camp, though the way it was done [ticked] me off completely. After that, it felt likes these characters just aimlessly wandered around waiting for the plot to find them rather than actually doing anything about their situation and nothing really happened. So thanks The Darkest Minds for the two hours of my life I’ll never get back."


I can't describe how accurate this review is for me.

I feel like there is NO PLOT in this story whatsoever. I'm really not sure if I will read Never Fade considering how blah this book was.

I don't really find anything special or outstanding in this story. And I'm convinced that Clancy froze Ruby and raped her even though she woke up with her clothes on and that is NOT okay with me. I felt like Ruby was being treated like a sex object during this entire book, and that is another one of the top things that turned me off of this book.

My support for this: at the very beginning of the book, when Ruby is smuggled out of Thurmond by Cate, Martin is totally thinking about having sex with Ruby and proceeds to touch her against her will and acts totally creepy. When Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu run into those 3 boys in the store, the main boy  Greg proceeds to stroke Ruby's leg, progressively moving upward, and offers to exchange information for sex with her. It's so obvious. And on page 237 we have this exchange:

"They weren't taking us to another camp. They packed up as many guys are they could and said we were being brought to a testing facility in Maryland."
"Only guys?" Chubs asked.
"We didn't have girls there." Greg's voice was heavy with disappointment. That explained a lot - particularly why he still seemed to be inching toward me, no matter how far I scooted away.

Ruby is trying to GET AWAY from Greg but he is advancing against her consent. Then we have this:

"I'm sure they'd be happy to have you," Greg said, his fingers sliding up from my shoe to stroke my ankle. I started to push away but stopped when he added, "It's in a really great location near the coast, but there just aren't a whole lot of girls. They could use something so...nice to look at."

Greg calls girls "something(s)" and says their purpose is for guys to "look at" them. This is sick. Girls are PEOPLE and guys should NOT be looking at them like that.

Liam then pries Greg's fingers off of Ruby and asks her to leave with Zu so the guys can talk. Liam says Ruby is distracting Greg with her face.

"No-distracting them," Liam repeated. "With your...face."

Liam hesitates, and this so obviously means the guys were looking at Ruby's body like she's nothing but a poster or an object. It's disgusting.

I have several other points, but let's just move on to Clancy. Clancy first stalks Ruby, then offers to teach her how to control her abilities, and when they have these lessons, they are executed on his bed. Clancy touches and kisses Ruby without her consent, and the biggest problem for me is this: HE USES HIS ABILITIES TO PUT THE IDEA IN HER MIND THAT SHE *WANTS* HIM TO DO THAT TO HER WHEN SHE DOESN'T. That is SICK and WRONG. He proceeds to paralyze her with his abilities, touch and kiss her, and gets on top of her, all while she is trying to fight back him entering her mind and trying to place the idea that she wants him to do that when she clearly doesn't. And she can't fight back. That is rape. Even if he didn't actually do so, he basically DID rape her. He violated her. And that's sick.

Here's why it bugs me so: women and girls are not the weaker sex. We aren't to be submissive, rug-like creatures who exist solely for the sexual pleasure of men and to serve them like dogs. Women are strong and independent and deserve every ounce of respect that men do.

I am not a feminist. I am a Christian and I believe that women are beneath men to some degree (for example, women cannot be pastors and are called to be submissive to their husbands, but not to the point that they have no voice or power).

And I believe that if a woman says to not touch her, you better as heck not do so. My body is mine. Not anyone's but mine.

Tyler (my boyfriend) and I have a wonderful, non-sexual relationship (we both desire to be virgins until our wedding days) and I am completely comfortable with him kissing me (not on the lips), hugging me, holding my hand, cuddling me, and other physical gestures. But if I asked him not to touch me and he did or if he touched me in an inappropriate way or in a way I'm not comfortable with that is NOT okay and I have every right to break up with him, report him to my mom or his own parents, and to use my voice to say NO.

Women are not possessions. I am Tyler's girlfriend, but I am not some object of his. I am a unique human being with my own set of beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. I am not owned by anyone.

This all goes for guys, too. If a guy asks you not to touch him and you do or you invade his space or body that is WRONG. I know of some guy-friends of mine who have been molested/raped by their own stepfathers or other adults. That is sick and wrong.

This is why I feel so strongly about this. Ruby seems to have no power or voice to tell these boys to stop eyeing and touching her and, in the case with Clancy, that power is COMPLETELY taken from her BY Clancy.

Now, back to the story:

This story, in my opinion, was pointless and had no direction or purpose. The characters are bland and I don't connect with any of them, which is a major turn-off for me with any book.

All in all, I did not enjoy The Darkest Minds, and I am not sure if I will continue this series.

Feel free to debate or comment on any of my thoughts.

~Amanda

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