Review: The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken – The ones who lived

10576365Title: The darkest minds

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: The darkest minds #1

Genres: young adult, dystopia, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 13 hrs 59 min

Narrator: Amy McFadden

My rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.


Ugh, this book. I REALLY wanted to like this book. I was CONVINCED I was going to like this book. But I didn’t. Once again, I realize I’m in the 1 percent here, but everything about it fell strangely flat for me. If you think about reading it, please feel free to ignore this review. This is not a bad book. Seriously. I think most people would enjoy it quite a lot. I think my inability to get into it is more specific to me and I’ll try to explain why.

Everything that should have worked but didn’t:

  • The concept. I honestly think this is just me and no one else (what else is new?), but my biggest problem ended up being the basic concept of the whole book. I can roll with the crazy, but this one so far makes absolutely no sense to me.Β  Let’s see. There’s a virus that wipes out most of America’s teenagers. OK, I’m good so far. But then, the ones who survive end up with crazy powers literally overnight??? What??? How??? Maybe this will be explained further in future books, but so far my science brain has a hard time accepting the zero explanation, and this sort of thing really bothers me.
  • The characters in general. I just couldn’t feel for them or relate to them as much as I should have. The one time Alexandra Bracken really got to me though was when it was revealed what Ruby did to her parents. That was BAD. I had no problem feeling for her then. And by the end I’ve really come to like Chubs, too. He’s the kind of guy whose respect has to be earned but once you have it, he’s unfailingly loyal. Now there’s something I can relate to. I would love to have him as a friend.
  • Liam. One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was all the amazing things I heard about the Liam/Ruby romance and Liam in general. I know YA/NA is all about the bad boys these days, and I have no problem with that for the most part, but I have a huge soft spot for genuinely good guys myself, and Liam definitely qualifies as one. He’s a ridiculously good guy. The thing is, he’s virtual perfectness translated into boring for me. To borrow an expression, ‘flat as a pancake’. And I didn’t feel the romance at all, which really didn’t help.
  • The longest and most boring road trip I’ve ever read about in a YA book. So, there is this road trip which takes up a huge chunk of the plot, during which the characters get from point A to point B, and virtually NOTHING HAPPENS. For the record, I love road trips in books, and that alone is enough to get me interested, but this time it felt way too long and sort of pointless. Time could have been better spent in Clancy’s camp where things finally started happening.
  • Clancy. Ugh, that guy. Excellent villain, and I probably would have loved to hate him, except he reminded me too much of Warner from Shatter me. And no, I don’t mean that as a compliment (I’m in the 1 percent there too). I swear, if he’s going to be redeemed in the sequel as a misunderstood saint, who just needs to be loved, I’m going to DNF that book.

Yes, despite my low rating, I sort of still want to read the sequel though. Mostly because I liked Ruby as a protagonist well enough, towards the end the action really got going, and the book finally showed some potential. The ending didn’t crush me as much as I suspect it was supposed to (for the reasons above) but it definitely got me curious. What do you think? Should I keep going? Is the sequel more action packed?


The audiobook version of this book is very enjoyable. Amy McFadden did a fine job narrating, giving unique voices to every character.


6 thoughts on “Review: The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken – The ones who lived

  1. Well, you can’t like every book. I really like the summary of it, but I can see how it might annoy me if the specifics that need to be explained aren’t. I can take great leaps when asked to suspend my disbelief, but there are some things that you just can’t do that for, and maybe that’s what happened for you here.

    A great review though. Well balanced and thought through. πŸ˜€

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ I did my best not to hate on this book despite the low rating, because it really didn’t deserve it. But I couldn’t in all fairness give a higher rating either. It looks like I’m becoming more critical with books now that I’ve started blogging.

      • Oh, I couldn’t agree more. I think a mixture between blogging and taking myself more seriously as a writer has made me super critical of books.. but only because I can usually see the potential and it’s hella frustrating when it isn’t realised!

      • Exactly.
        But I often feel bad criticizing, because a) I have no talent myself, b) most authors are such lovely people, so unless a book is really offensive and makes me mad for the wrong reasons (and this book so wasn’t) I try my best to be as kind as possible and try to keep some sort of balance.

      • There’s a difference between being kindly critical and being an ass. If a book doesn’t work, then there’s no harm in saying why in a cool and collected manner.

        It’s when bloggers and reviewers and readers go on the offensive that I take issue. There is never any need to be rude.

        You have a great approach! I always look forward to reading what you have to say, regardless of what rating you give a book πŸ™‚

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