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.
WELL. GUESS WHO HAS HAD HER HEART RIPPED OUT BUY THE FIRST BOOK IN ANOTHER SERIES? DID YOU GUESS ME? IF YOU DID, YOU’RE RIGHT!
In all seriousness, this book was absolutely amazing. The premise was for the most part really unique and I was able to get attached to the characters in seconds, a fact that probably contributed to my current state of emotional devastation. I literally just finished the book right before I started typing this, and I still feel like my mind is back in the world of this series, it was that intense.
I think “The Darkest Minds” is technically classified as a dystopia series, but I’m not really sure if it really falls into that category. I actually got more of a post apocalypse feel, but it’s kind of hard to place, I would say sometime in the near future. Anyway, the main premise is that there’s this disease that’s killing hundreds of children, and the ones who survive develop these super abilities that are categorized by color (Greens are super intelligent, Blues are telekinetic, Yellows control electricity, Oranges can control minds, and Reds create fire), and are sent to labor camps where the government says they are being rehabilitated, but are really horribly mistreated and killed if they are considered dangerous.
SPOILERS FOR “THE DARKEST MINDS” BEYOND THIS POINT
So from the start of the book we’re introduced to the main character, Ruby, and oh my god, I felt so much for her. Nearly everyone in this book has a backstory ranging from heartbreakingly sad to extremely tragic, and Ruby is definitely on the tragic end of the spectrum. For one, she’s been living under horrible conditions at Thurmond, one of the “rehabilitation camps” since she was ten years old, and on top of that, she’s secretly an Orange in a camp where anyone who isn’t Blue or Green is killed, and has only survived by posing as Green. And she has no idea how to control her abilities, including an aspect that wipes all memories of her in a person’s mind which she has accidentally used on her parents and best friend in the camp. So yeah, this poor girl already has such a hard life, and seeing as it’s already a really dark series I don’t think things are likely to improve anytime soon…
So Ruby escapes from Thurmond pretty early in the book with the help of this organization called The Children’s League. We actually don’t learn a lot about this group yet, but they seemed really messed up. I actually did think that Cate could be trusted at first, but then there was the stuff Ruby saw in Rob’s mind and I think there was something about them using Psi kids for their missions without caring about their safety, so they definitely seem like a group to worry about.
Thankfully Ruby escapes from The Children’s League pretty quickly and joins with a group of kids who escaped one of the camps, and let me tell you, after just a few pages of these characters I come to a realization: “Oh no. it’s a group of misfits who have become a family while going against an organization that wants to control/kill them. Holy crap, I am going to get so attached to everyone.”
And that is exactly what happened. Every one of these characters is so freaking amazing, I wouldn’t even be able to choose a favorite. I mean first we have Liam. Oh my god, Liam Stewart, you precious angel, I love you so much. There’s just something about the way he always tries to find the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt, even though it sometimes comes at the expense of his own safety, and the fact that he’s so entirely, self-sacrificially devoted to his friends. I’m actually kind of worried for him since his loyalty and determination totally outweigh his self-preservation, but at the same time that’s part of what makes him so endearing. If anything, maybe I should just be concerned that this makes at least three fictional guys I’ve fallen for within the past couple of months…
And then we have Chubs. Chubs is just this grumpy old man with a heart of gold in the body of a teenage boy, and I got so darn attached to him. Here we have this character who is really high-strung and takes a while to develop trust for anyone but it’s all because he cares so much about the others and worries about them all the time. He and Liam just worked so well off each other, like Chubs keeps Liam from constantly throwing himself into danger and Liam helps Chubs to eventually let people in. Add the fact that he provides most of the wonderful sarcasm in this book and you have a character for whom I will become extremely emotionally attached. (And he needs to be reunited with his parents as soon as possible. Seriously, this kid deserves something good to happen in his life for once.)
And then there was Zu. Oh my god, Zu is such a sweetheart. She’s this young child who wants nothing more than to just have a normal life with cute dresses and kids her age but she’s been forced into this awful situation where she always has to be on the run and feels like she can’t control her abilities, and it’s impossible not to feel so much for her. I’m really worried about what’s going to happen to her after she went with the tribe of Yellows, and I really hope we see her reunited with the others soon, WITHOUT it being under tragic circumstances.
And then there’s just the relationship between all four of them. From the first time Ruby meets everyone and through the whole time they were searching for East River I was so darn invested, and god, I loved every second of it. All the sarcastic banter in the Black Betty driving scenes, and the awesomely written action scenes, and the sheer level of sass between Liam and Chubs, and the way they all look out for each other, and the way Ruby slowly becomes part of their family and how they don’t treat her any differently after learning that she’s Orange, I completely loved all of it.
On a similar note, Ruby and Liam have definitely become my OTP for this series. There’s this whole thing where he’s one of the first people to trust Ruby without being afraid of her, and you could tell she had these deep feelings for him, and for some reason it’s really hard to describe why, but I absolutely loved them together. Let’s just say that every time Liam called Ruby Darlin’ I was having a complete fangirl moment.
AT LEAST I WAS UNTIL THAT THING THAT HAPPENED IN THE ENDING, but we’ll get to that later…
So fast forward a bit to when they finally make it to East River, and it seems like a safe place, but honestly it seemed too good to be true. I guess I’m too overexposed to that “good organization is just as bad as the bad one/ secretly a trap” trope, but I was automatically suspicious. And that is really painful, because you really want to see these characters to succeed and find someplace where they can be safe. And then there was the whole thing with Clancy…Excuse me for a second…
CLANCY GRAY YOU SOCIOPATHIC PIECE OF CRAP. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HE DID WAS OKAY. NOTHING.
See, I really thought that Clancy was going to be part of a Liam-Ruby-Clancy love triangle. Like Liam was going to be the really sweet first love type and Clancy was going to be the experienced and tortured type who helps her through their shared pain of being Orange or something. But then he started acting kind of creepy towards Ruby, and being prejudiced towards non-Oranges, and then he turned out to be an ENTIRELY HORRIBLE PERSON. Clancy was actually really, insanely disturbing. There was the messed up ways he used his abilities, and the awful stuff he did to Ruby and Liam, and that creepy paralyzing thing he could do. Not to mention when he LITERALLY BETRAYED EVERYONE. I don’t know if he’s going to play a major role in the rest of the series, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him, and I really hope we get to see Ruby overcome him soon.
So let’s talk about that ending…
Now, I don’t know how I went so long without being spoiled for this series, but I had heard that something terrible was going to happen at the end of the first book, so I was already in anticipation of the worst. But then they got away from East River and they were going to deliver the letter and the action was declining, and I was starting to think that I may have heard wrong and we were going to get away with a fairly non-depressing ending.
But then Chubs went to deliver that freaking letter and Jack’s father FREAKING SHOT HIM.
And then I started panicking, because, I actually thought Chubs was going to die. From a writing standpoint it would be the perfect shocking/heartbreaking death at the end of the first book. But as a reader, IT WAS RIPPING MY FREAKING HEART OUT. And he was talking about going home and bleeding out and oh my god I was freaking out SO BAD. He had better be okay in “Never Fade”, or I will seriously be so freaking upset.
AND THEN Ruby pressed that panic button thing, and the Children’s League came and took them, and Ruby agrees to work with them if they let Liam go, and then she went into the room with Liam and I thought there would be some romantic moment, like her trying to say goodbye and do the breaking up with the other one to save them thing and him refusing to leave or whatever, but then SHE FREAKING ERASED ALL HIS MEMORIES OF HER.
It’s like I kind of understand why she did it, but weren’t there better ways to go about this? Like I know Liam would never leave her alone BUT DID SHE NEED TO ERASE HERSELF ENTIRELY FROM HIS MEMORY? GOD DARN THESE YA PROTAGONISTS AND THEIR NEED TO BE TRAGICALLY SELF SACRIFICING IN THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. AND I SWEAR TO GOD, I AM GOING TO CREATE SOME SORT OF FOUNDATION FOR THE PREVENTION OF MEMORY LOSS REGARDING SIGNIFICANT OTHERS IN FICTIONAL TEENAGE BOYS, BECAUSE THAT HAPPENS WAY TOO OFTEN.
And then there was the whole thing at the very end where he said he didn’t think they had met, and he calls her Darlin’ again and I swear, in that moment I could literally feel my heart dying. And then he left and Ruby stayed with the Children’s League and oh god, I was this close to crying my eyes out, it was just so freaking SAD.
So aside from the sheer level of PAIN from the ending, this book was amazing. The premise was pretty unique, and I got so incredibly attached to the characters, and I desperately need to know what happens to them next. Let’s just say that none of these characters had better die in “Never Fade”, or I will be a complete emotional mess. And I’m pretty concerned since I’ve heard the second book gets really dark, so there’s that to look forward to. But overall, I think I’ve found a new series to entirely obsess over!
See you next time for my thoughts on “Never Fade”! Thanks for reading!