Thursday, February 7, 2013

Darkest Side of Humanity

The Darkest Minds
Fear is an ugly thing, but when it causes humanity to turn its back on its own children, ugly is no longer the word. In The Darkest Mind by Alexandra Bracken, the world has long surpassed ugly. It is broken, and there may be no way to come back from where it has gone.

Ruby has spent most of her life at Thurmond, what was supposed to be a "rehabilitation camp" for kids but turned into a prison, a detention camp. When she first arrived all those years ago, something was happening to her that she couldn't explain. Unfortunately, it only took a short time in the camps to understand how the adult world now felt about kids like Ruby. When a plague swept the US, many kids died, but it was the ones who survived the virus that scared the adults. They were the ones who developed powers. Classified in levels where Blues and Greens were the least powerful, and Yellows, Oranges, and Reds were the most dangerous, the kids are sorted in the camp and separated according to their power. While Ruby is an Orange, even at 10 years old she could see it was dangerous to be labeled as one of the more powerful kids. She uses her power of mind control to get classified a Green, and when they start emptying the camps of Yellows, Oranges, and Reds, she knows she made the right decision.

Ruby lives life knowing how to keep her head down, but she has no control of her power. And while it saved her life once, getting into minds has severe consequences, like erasing all memory of herself from the minds of the people she loves. When the camp uses a special frequency to weed out any higher level students hiding amongst the Blues and Greens, Ruby is found out. But luckily, there were people ready to help her- squirreled out of the camp with another hidden Orange, Ruby is rescued by Children's League- an organization that aims to fight the government's treatment of the children. The Children's League sounds like it is too good to be true, and it is. Because the only way to fight fire is with fire. Already on edge, Ruby is skeptical of the Children's League and when the opportunity to escape presents itself, she runs. And she runs right into three kids who are also on the run: Chubs, Liam, and a little girl named Suzume. Since erasing her parents' memories of herself, Ruby has never truly let herself care for anyone, until now. And there is nothing more dangerous in this scary new world than caring about people who could so easily get hurt. The kids are in search of a fabled place where kids can live in peace, but can such a place exist in a world so full of darkness?

Darkest Minds was a really good book! It was action-packed, and the back story is so twisted and dark, you felt like you had to know more. The idea of rounding kids up and eliminating the ones that are too powerful to control is terrifying. But is it wrong? Incorrect? I sadly believe people's fear can drive them to do things that are so heinous and unforgivable, it is hard to imagine how they go to that place. Fear is a funny thing that will bring us places we never thought we would go to. And this novel really gets to the heart of this fact. And it is scary! By the end of the book, you have a completely different idea as to who the "Darkest Minds" were. 

Another interesting aspect of the story is how the Oranges really can be unstable and violent. When Ruby first came to the camp, she watched one kill a guard without remorse, or even a second thought. When you start the story, you want to think of the adults as the bad guys and the kids as the ones who need saving, but the instability of the Oranges (and you never really see any Reds) brings a whole new level to the story. It is an interesting twist that will keep you enthralled form cover to cover.

The story is a great, action-packed story with multiple layers to be peeled back like an onion. It is great for any kid (or adult) who likes dystopias, supernatural stories, action, etc. Some situations, especially the camp, are violent and difficult to internalize at times. This is a great gender neutral novel that can keep anyone addicted! 

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