Published: 2012 - Disney Hyperion.
Genres: Young adult / sci-fi / fantasy
Triggers/Content Advisory: Occasional strong violence.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
I read Bracken's Passenger duology sometime last year and enjoyed it. When I saw that the first book in this trilogy was being made into a film and then I watched the trailer, I was interested to read it, too. And I'd feel better reading the book before I watch the movie ;)
Bracken writes well. Her imagery is superb, the tone is suitably eerie, and she creates atmosphere so well. But her writing isn't concise, and that's a style that bothered me a lot in the Passenger duology, as well. She just drags stuff out too much. Her language isn't short and to the point. It's well written, but could be more concise.
The world we see on these pages is frightening. Reading about children being put in "rehabilitation camps" - which are basically concentration camps - is a horrifying nod to Hitler's regime, and perhaps inspired by that, Bracken shows a similar type of blind loyalty and atrocious abuse in the way the children are treated and rounded up and in how the people under such a government can become brainwashed. She raises thought provoking questions about authority figures, and profoundly shows just how cruel and twisted people can be when they're so convinced of what they've been made to believe. Bracken portrays a sickening world, but she does it so well. She makes you think.
Unfortunately, I found the plot too slow. It is a character-driven story, but because I never loved the characters or the writing, the slowness was a big deal. When there is action it's incredible and gets your heart racing, but it's not frequent. As a result, I was occasionally bored.
The characters are well drawn. Everyone has a strong backstory that is extremely well fleshed out, and every character is vivid and three-dimensional. I love the dynamic relationships between Ruby, Liam, Zu, and Chubs - they're so beautiful - and the romance between Liam and Ruby is also a gorgeous slow-burn. I definitely ship them.
But the thing that stopped me from loving this book was the fact that it simply wasn't my type of story. I'm not big on sci fi, and this premise is just "too classically sci-fi" to win me over. It's very much dystopia (think futuristic messed up world, cruel government, and special powers) and that isn't a story I typically enjoy. It's a good book, to be sure, but it isn't something that's gonna make me go wow.
The Darkest Minds is a gut-wrenching, emotionally charged story with excellent characters and surprising depth. But I don't think it was the book for me.