When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely of faces.” – Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

This book is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. It succeeds where so many dystopian novels fail, in that the world in which this book is written is believable. It’s dark and terrifying, but it’s much more realistic.

The world takes place sometime in the future when more than half of the younger generation is infected with a disease called IAAN. The rest of them are labeled as Psi – psychic – and are cursed gifted with abilities that the adults don’t know how to deal with. They’re scared of these kids, so they lock the surviving Psi children up in concentration camps, forcing them to do laborious work, and basically condemning them to a prison-like existence.

In these camps there is a breakdown of abilities in order for the government to keep everything organized. The children are seperated into different colours depending on the danger level of their abilities: red, orange, yellow, blue, and green.

“Dreaming led to disappointment, and disappointment to a kind of depressed funk that wasn’t easy to shake. Better to stay in the gray than get eaten by the dark.” – Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

Ruby, is one of the surviving children and on her tenth birthday is taken away to a “rehabilitation camp” called Thurmond. She remains in the camp for six years and has no knowledge of what has happened to the country in the years she’s been away. In this time she has figured out what to do to survive and that is to do exactly as she’s told and don’t draw any unwanted attention.

As long as her secret is kept safe, everything will be fine. She soon realizes that not everything is as it seems and the world is a lot more complicated than she thought it was.

At first it was hard for me to warm up to Ruby. I could tell she had potential and that she could a very strong lead for this book – but it was something she had to grow in to and it isn’t something that is just handed to us as the reader. We have to figure it out for ourselves. There are lot of emotions that stir when I think of what Ruby has gone through and what she has lost and somehow she manages to pull through. She has a need to protect those around her… a need that outweighs saving her own skin. Our time with Ruby is made all the more precious by the fact that she and her friends are always in danger, which I think just makes me like her more.

Our love interest… Oh where to begin. He is the pseudo-leader of a growing rebellion with the desire to break more kids out of the camps and his name is Liam. Their first encounter definitely isn’t what we’d expect, and their relationship slowly blooms from there. There might be a hundred things that could get in the way of it – but that doesn’t deter them. There’s no instant love, no awkward conversations, and on his end, no questioning how they could possibly work out. Their love is real, beautiful and perfect.

When I put this book down I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I needed it to sink in just a bit before I felt comfortable writing down my thoughts. After 24 hours of letting this book mull around in my head in I’ve realized that I did, in fact, love this book. Alexandra Bracken did a phenomenal job with world building in this book. I felt like I was actually there and could relate to the characters that were laid before me.