The Darkest Minds
Just when I think I am done with dystopias, along comes one with good writing and believable characters. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Braken is set in the very near future and opens with 10-year old Ruby entering a freezing camp still under construction, somewhere in countryside of West Virginia. She's with hundreds of other terrified children, many still in their pajamas, while military guards hold guns to their backs. The children are not allowed to speak, and the few who dare are hit in the face.
Ruby can see the fear in the adults' eyes, and that fear makes them cruel. Why are the adults so scared? I'm not telling you. Just know that kids have real power in this book, and adults are willing to do almost anything to keep that power contained.
The Darkest Reality
What makes the story so compelling is that it's plausible. The desire to lock away perceived threats is very much part of our history. During WWII, Japanese-American families were put in camps just on the fear they would spy for Japan. During disease outbreaks, there are calls for extreme quarantines to protect the general population. If citizens are scared, they will willingly do any number of horrible things to feel safe, including locking up their own children.
I also felt for the main characters more than in other recent dystopias like Divergent or Delirium. Ruby is no super-hero: she has barely a fourth grade education and few survival skills. She manages to escape the camp after five soul-crushing years, and luckily falls in with a band of teens also on the run from bounty hunters and the US Army. Liam, Chubs, and Zu give Ruby a sense of family after years of isolation, and teach her how to survive in their horrible new reality where they must assume all adults are their enemies.
The Darkest Wait
The only downside to The Darkest Minds is that this is the first of planned trilogy and the first book just came out this December! To make matters worse, the author's website has no release date for book two. Thank goodness I have two books left in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.
The Darkest Minds Trailer
CynthiaR can't wait to see Warm Bodies. Finally a zombie love story that might make sense. Plus Nicholas Hoult is cute.