Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

   I've been hearing a massive amount of hype about this book lately, especially with the new sequel and all that jazz. Admittedly, I didn't really have high hopes for it, having lost a certain amount of faith in the young adult-dystopian genre somewhere along the line, but I was actually really quite pleasantly surprised with this one.

   Honestly, I enjoyed THE DARKEST MINDS a lot. I went in without being too clear on the plot or characters or any of that, so the book unraveled as a sort of pleasant surprise.

   To get my one big complaint out of the way quickly, I've got to admit that I kind of felt like the book lacked direction. It wasn't always clear to me, as a reader, what exactly the goal was for the main character and her friends throughout the story, and even though you get this huge, overwhelming sense of urgency from the situation and characters, the end goal–that is, delivering the one dead kid's letter–seemed sort of anticlimactic. I'm aware that delivering the letter wasn't the plot-driving quest of the book, but it just felt kind of weird to me, like an afterthought. 

   Okay, so now that I've put that out there, I'm going to try my best to follow that review-structure thing I promised I would do. 

   This is THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken, first of the series of the same name, as well as Bracken's debut work. The second book of the to-be trilogy came out a few months ago {December, maybe?} and is called NEVER FADE. It's a YA dystopian, but with a bit of a twist thrown into it. Again, I really only just picked this one up because of the hype. Booktube, in particular, seems to be going crazy over this series.

   And yeah, I really had zero clue on what it was about when I grabbed it off the discount shelf at Target. {God bless Target and its slightly-cheaper-than-B&N bestseller selection.} I kind of understood the whole 'special abilities' bit? But not really?

   Now, this book is a dystopian, but again, it's quite unique in the sense that it doesn't simply show you a fucked-up place and tell you that 'this could be our future,' but actually shows the steps that our modern society takes to get there. The book opens with our narrator and main character, Ruby, when she's around ten years old. Most of her classmates are dying due to a new disease known as IAAN. I can't for the life of me remember what that stands for, but it's basically terrible, and it wipes out a huge number of kids. 

   As time goes on, it is discovered that the child survivors of IAAN have developed special powers. Amongst these is Ruby herself. All of the special-power kids are shipped off to LITERAL CONCENTRATION CAMPS and that's where al of the holocaust parallels begin. 

   That's the basis, and not really the plot, but hey, if you want to find out what actually happens, read the book. It's worth it.

   Chubs was my favourite. It's seriously not even a contest. Everyone else was nice, but you can't really beat the snarky, sarcastic ones. They will always be the rulers of my heart; everyone else is just second best.      

   Speaking of characters, oh god, what the fuck, Clancy. I was honestly expecting some vaguely creepy cliché shit with the love triangles and the main character being an idiot and picking the weirdo, but NO. NOPE. I DON'T WANT TO SPOIL ANYONE ON ANYTHING IMPORTANT, BUT WOW OK. 

   For me, the high points mostly resided within the witty banter. It would actually be a pretty freakin' depressing book without the snark, and even so, it's incredibly dark. But the character interactions and the conversations and the jokes really do lighten the mood, and some of it's just really clever and cute.

   Low points: every scene with Clancy. Call me nuts, but I just don't even feel remotely comfortable with anyone who's described as or compared to a politician. Even while he was being introduced as super-nice and A+ leadership skills or whatever the fuck, he skeeved me out, okay. Just. Just no. {Technically this shouldn't count as a low point, since it's not really anything against the book itself, but just deal. I already made my one big complaint up above.}

   Overall, I really did enjoy this book. It took a little longer than I expected to get through, but I truly fell in love with the characters and got really upset at all the right parts and such and such. I do plan on picking up NEVER FADE sometime; possibly after I lift this self-inflicted ban on book-buying. {For those of you who didn't know, I barred myself from purchasing books in January. Keep up, will you?} The world and idea just fascinate me in a really weird way. Kind of like when you're watching a horror movie and you're simultaneously disgusted and fascinated by the brutal murder taking place on-screen, and you make that weird face that's half-smile, half-grimace? Yeah, that.

   I actually thought about the message of this book for a little bit right after reading it, and I came up with this:

   Children are supposed to be innocent, but the kids in these books act frighteningly like adults. Even though it's stated specifically that most of them are uneducated beyond a fundamentally basic level, they've already learned to fight for themselves, to scavenge and attack like wild dogs, or something to that measure. And the reason they've grown so quickly and terrifyingly is out of the fear and desperation created by violence, which stemmed from hate, which stemmed from ignorance. Basically, ignorance breeds violence, and violence has a way of affecting even the purest of us in terribly ways.