(Click for spoiler-free review of NEVER FADE, the second book in this series!)
PJV Quickie: THE DARKEST MINDS is is aptly named, as it is quite possibly the darkest dystopian I have read. What the characters have stripped away from them is truly frightening and the fact that none of them know why it happened is worse. It’s difficult to believe that any parent would voluntarily allow their child in a concentration camp, but the parents of these children are scared…and with good reason. I reread THE DARKEST MIND before starting book two and it was still as amazing for me during the second reading.
Review: Not only did THE DARKEST MINDS blow my expectations out of the water, but it is the first book in a long time that makes me truly envious of the author. I wish I wrote this book. It’s gritty, dark, and unlike any book I’ve ever read. There are quirky characters that have dynamic relationships with each other (and not just the narrator like many books). In fact, even their vehicle, Betty, has personality.
It’s unfortunate that every adult the gang meets wants to either kill them or throw them in chains, as it make it seem like there are a disproportionate amount of child-hating sadistic jerks running around. I’m fairly certain that there’s a halfway decent adult somewhere in this universe, but Ruby definitely hasn’t met him/her.
The color system isn’t explained until the end, which I didn’t appreciate. Thanks Ruby for not telling me things like this that I should know by chapter two. For anyone interesting in reading, here are the classification colors from least threatening to most threatening: Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange, and Red. I don’t want to spoil exactly what each one does, but you’ll thank me while reading for the order.
Ruby is an unreliable narrator – she purposely hide things from the reader that we should know. It’s not until late in the book that we learn exactly how she managed to avoid classification or the horrific event that led up to her being abandoned by her parents. She’s plagued by the guilt of the things that her ability has done to people. She’s damaged to the point where she hide the truth even from those closest to her. Because Ruby is the only narrator, there are some unanswered questions involving the world-building that hopefully will be cleared up in later books.
Although the descriptions in THE DARKEST MINDS are intense, reading felt like running blindfolded. There’s so many things that aren’t explained until the last possible moment. Somehow it works. Without knowing if the people Ruby meets are friend or foe, I felt my adrenaline pounding page after page. Many of the twists were unexpected, especially involving Clancy. I recommend THE DARKEST MINDS to fans of YA dystopians and thrillers.