Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Length: 528 pages
Ruby Daly awakes on her tenth birthday to find that her parents have no idea who she is. Ruby lives in a world where children ages ten to seventeen are often inflicted with an incurable disease that gives them unbridled power. No one knows what brings about the condition and there is no apparent cure. Ruby’s parents fear that she is a run away and therefore dangerous, calling in the government’s special forces to take her away to a rehabilitation camp for ill children in her native state of Virginia.
Ruby spends the next six years in the worst camp in the United States. Classified by colors to identify each camper’s type of ability, Ruby and all her fellow campers are treated as prisoners and are kept under strict watch. They are unable to voice their opinions, to learn about the outside world, or to interact with family members. They are told that their powers make them freaks and that they should under no circumstances attempt to control or use their powers, that they will simply be killed as using such powers puts everyone at risk.
When Ruby has a once in a life time chance to escape her fate, she takes it. Not knowing how much she can trust her rescuer she knows this is her only true chance at survival. The outside world is desolate and barren. People are rarely seen, and those that are become agitated quickly. Everyone is defensive and fearful.
Ruby quickly learns that her rescuers may not be as truthful as she once thought and again, finds a way to escape them. It is then that she finds Zu, Chubs and Liam other camp escapees who traveled across state lines in hopes of finding a rumored Slip Kid. The Slip Kid is supposed to provide a safe haven for kids like Ruby, Chubs, Zu and Liam. The only problem is, the location of the Slip Kid’s camp is secret.
As Ruby and her new found friends venture to find others like them, to reconnect with their families and to find some sort of stability in a crumbling world, the kids each learn about themselves, their abilities and each other. They find that appearances are often not as they seem and they must constantly make choices between what is stable and what is right.
The Darkest Minds does not hold back on action, brutality or intrigue. While Ruby battles with learning to accept who she really is and what her powers allow her to do, she must also learn to adapt to those around her, to understand that there can never truly be a normal life after her experiences at camp. That a family is something she will likely never know again.
While The Darkest Minds is like a mashup of the Xmen and The Hunger Games. The power struggle and abilities provide unique opportunities to their owners, but the landscape and environment of the world presents dire consequences for exposing yourself or trusting others too lightly.
The Darkest Minds is the first book in the Darkest Minds Trilogy. The second novel, Never Fade and the conclusion to the trilogy, In the Afterlight are available at major book retailers. The Darkest Minds trilogy also boasts two novellas, In Time (which takes place between books 1 and 2) and Sparks Rise (which takes place between books 2 and 3). You can learn more about Alexandria Bracken’s works on her website.