Thursday, November 22, 2012

ARC Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: Dec 18, 2012
Rating: 5/5 (Quite possibly the #1 pick for 2012)

Cover Impressions:
Very nice cover.  Dark colors that portray the overall mood of the book and eye-catching imagery.  Can't wait to see how this theme continues through the rest of the series (Dear God, please let this be the first in a series). 

The Gist:
When children begin to die from a mysterious disease, it is discovered the those survivors are left with dangerous and frightening powers.  A new special forces is quickly formed and the children are rounded up for "rehabilitation".  At the age of 10, Ruby enters Thurmond and witnesses unspeakable horrors.  When she escapes at the age of 16, the is quick to realize that it is not just the camps that had been the setting of these atrocities, but that the entire country had transformed into a dark and dangerous place. 

I can see already that this is going to be one of those reviews where I simply cannot do justice to the fabulosity of this book.  Just a few chapters in, I found myself exclaiming "holy crap this is good!" and that didn't cease until the last page was turned.  I am beyond excited for the upcoming release date and cannot wait to get a copy for my classroom.  The Darkest Minds transcends issues of gender and genre preferences in the same way that The Hunger Games did.  It is exciting, fast-paced and full of genuine emotion. 

The world of this novel is horrible, but all too possible.  Terrifying parallels can be drawn between the rehabilitation centers and concentration camps during WWII.  It seems that danger lurks around every turn and almost no one can be trusted.  The world building is intense and details are slowly unraveled as we move forward in the plot. 

The characters are wonderfully well written and developed so that the reader comes to love them, but also recognizes that they are flawed in a very realistic way.  Their relationships are so genuine and the romantic angle is weaved into the plot so that it supports the action, rather than stealing center stage.  The villains (about whom I cannot give many details without spoiling the storyline) are equally well written and aided the plot in becoming one of the more exciting and horrifying ones that I have read this year.  

I do not even know what else I can say.  I am still reeling from the ending and wishing I was able to spend more time with these characters.  Books like The Darkest Minds, are the reason I continue to love YA and why I get excited about bringing titles like these to the attention of my students.  Alexandra Bracken, the YA world awaits news of the next release with baited breath - please hurry!

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Gunplay, Knifeplay, Mind Control, Concentration Camps, Execution, Possible Rape
Inappropriate Language: Asshole, Shit, Piss, Bullshit, Fucking, Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: None


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