Book Talk- Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds book #2)

Never Fade

Finished: 8/13/15

SPOILERS FOR “THE DARKEST MINDS” SERIES BEYOND THIS POINT

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children-and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts-has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future-and who now wouldn’t recognize her. As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam-and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart-she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Yeah, remember how I said “The Darkest Minds” simultaneously ripped my heart out while getting me attached to an amazing group of characters? WELL “NEVER FADE” TOOK THIS CONCEPT AND AMPLIFIED IT BY ELEVEN. I AM EMOTIONALLY DESTROYED, AND IT WAS AMAZING.

I’ve said several times now that I usually get super into the second book in a trilogy, and this one was no exception. While I wouldn’t say I liked it more that the first book, it was definitely at least equal. I am just so insanely invested in the characters in this series, and this book develops them all so well, all while DUMPING AN INCREASINGLY HORRIBLE AMOUNT OF EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL TRAUMA ON ALL OF THEM, so you can tell that I was pretty darn invested the whole time.

SPOILERS FOR “THE DARKEST MINDS” SERIES AND “NEVER FADE” BEYOND THIS POINT

So the first thing I have to mention here is that wow, this series got dark. I mean, the first book wasn’t exactly a lighthearted comedy, but this one was a lot more brutal and messed up. Even Ruby seems to have a lot fewer issues with using her abilities after six months with the Children’s League.

Speaking of which, I was really concerned when we found out it had been six months since the last book. A lot of character development that we don’t get to see can happen in a time skip, and in a way that was slightly true. A lot of new characters were introduced, and Ruby had been fully integrated into the Children’s League.

The League actually didn’t seem as bad as we were led to believe. I mean it definitely didn’t seem like a safe place, and a good percentage of the agents were horrible Rob-type people, but oh my god, I got so attached to the new characters from Ruby’s team. I mean, first we have Vida…

tumblr_nge1eqzOxp1sglktro1_400

Vida is literally my queen. Actually though, I wasn’t that fond of her originally. She came off as very blunt and uncaring and way too devoted to the League, and I really didn’t trust her at first. But after about when she joined with Ruby, Chubs, and Jude she started growing on me so much. She’s just this character who’s really kind of brazen and comes off as kind of off –putting to others, but she actually does care really deeply for her team and her friends. Basically he doesn’t give an eff, unless you threaten someone she cares about, because then you’re going down. And on top of that she easily had most of the best lines in the book. There’s this one scene where Ruby’s about to go do something dangerous and Liam says “Give em’ hell darlin’” and Vida just goes “And for the love of god bitch, don’t get stabbed this time!”, and in that moment, I knew I was in love with this wonderfully snarky character. (And is there something going on between her and Chubs? Because I could definitely sense something forming.)

And then we had Jude. Oh god, Jude…

tumblr_inline_nik5fzziSv1qa8iie

Jude was just this sweet, innocent, adorable ray of sunshine, and there are no words for how much I absolutely loved him. When we first see him he’s introduced as this upbeat, talkative kid who’s always really enthusiastic, and that’s already really sweet and endearing, but then we learn that he really looks up to Ruby, and he calls her “Roo”, and he always waits for her and Vida to come back from ops like an unofficial welcoming committee, and all I can think is oh my god, this child is the embodiment of a precious cinnamon roll, protect him at all costs.

But then I remembered what usually happens to innocent and optimistic younger characters in dystopian type series…and then I started thinking “Oh no, he is far too pure and trusting to survive this dark of a series. He’s going to die isn’t he…?” So I’m trying really, really hard not to get attached to him, but then then he and Ruby start getting closer, and we learn about the horrible way his parents treated him as a child, and he’s really scared all the time when they’re running from Rob’s group in the league, but he’s really trying his best to be helpful and keep up the spirits of everyone around him, and Ruby starts seeing him as kind of a little brother, and he starts getting braver and more confident in himself, and I realize that holy crap, I am extremely attached to this kid. He’s just this spot of light in an insanely dark world, and I could tell that something horrible was probably going to happen to him, but I couldn’t stop myself from loving the adorable little sweetheart of a character! Even though I really should know better by now…

We’re also introduced to another character named Nico, another member of Ruby’s League team, and I’m sorry, but was I the only one who couldn’t stop picturing Nico Di Angelo from “Percy Jackson”? They even had similar physical descriptions! I guess my mind just permanently associated the name with Percy Jackson or something, because through the whole book I had to keep reminding myself “NO, THIS IS NOT NICO THE EMOTIONALLY TORTURED DEMIGOD. THIS IS A DIFFERENT NICO. STOP IT.” Anyway, I didn’t actually get all that attached to him. We really didn’t see enough of him for me to get invested, and because of that I wasn’t really effected when we learn that he was really working with Clancy. Maybe we’ll see more of him in the next book, but we definitely would need more development before I get too invested.

Now, I have to say that as much as I loved the new characters, through the first quarter of the book, I really missed the original characters. There was this one moment at the beginning where I thought we were going to be reunited with Liam right at the start, but then it turned out to be Cole (I’ll get to him later), and we didn’t even see him until like halfway through. And Zu never even made and appearance, and while I am happy she didn’t go through some of the stuff that happened, I really wanted to know what was going on with her. On a different note, I don’t think I have never been happier than when Ruby and Chubs were reunited. There was just this great sense of OH THANK GOD HE ISN’T DEAD and there’s a part of the book that’s kind of similar to the first one where they’re all on a sort of road trip to look for Liam and get the flash drive, and there’s great character interaction, and everything was so darn well written.

So finally getting into some plot stuff, let’s talk about that part with the fake East River. The main characters are traveling and searching for Liam, and there’s all this heart wrenching stuff about if Ruby is going to stay with Chubs and Liam or go back to the League, but then, almost out of nowhere they’re captured by this group of Blues and taken to a warehouse where this Blue named Knox is posing as the Slip Kid in order to control a group of other kids. Let me just say, Knox was such a piece of crap. He was a misogynist, he was a creeper, he was hurting my fictional characters, and I could not wait for Ruby to completely take him down. In that one scene where he put out his cigarette on Ruby’s hand, I was literally so freaking angry at him, like he needed to be taught a lesson, and I was so ready for him to meet his downfall as soon as possible.

So Knox sends them to this tent outside, and what are the odds, LIAM IS THERE. And at first I’m really excited because oh my god, yes, we’re finally being reunited with Liam, but then we realize that he’s really sick and close to dying, and Knox won’t give him treatment, and he still doesn’t remember Ruby at all, and OH GOD, MY POOR LIAM IS SO FREAKING HURT AND BROKEN. SOMEONE HELP HIM!

tumblr_n8xg3k7Lie1rq07b0o1_500

And after that lovely stab in the heart there’s this whole part where Ruby and Vida have to go through this “initiation” where Knox makes them fight against a Red, and it was a simultaneously really epic and messed up scene. Like on one hand, we get our first look at a Red, but we learn that the government has essentially been turning them into weapons, and the one they had to fight, Mason, was so mentally broken and it was so darn sad to read about what the government did to these kids (and stupid Knox didn’t help either). But then there was the whole scene after where Ruby completely takes down Knox and makes him confess to everything he did and give up his control, and it was so darn satisfying to see him fall, and to see the good characters actually win for once.

And then for a little while everything goes pretty well. They find the flash drive (and we get to see Jude all super excited to be given a mission to find it), and then Ruby starts leading all the kids who were under Knox’s control, and they go to get supplies and find all the rations and medicine, and there’s this epic action scene where they all use their abilities against the PSF’s and Jude does that awesome thing with harnessing electricity, and they’re all escaping and it looks like everything’s going to work out for once…

But then RUBY GETS FREAKING STABBED IN THE BACK.

tumblr_inline_mxk2cyEH841rpx9q2

 And she gets captured by Rob, and he’s taking her back to Thurmond, and oh god, when he put the muzzle on her I was literally freaking out so bad. I mean, poor Ruby has gone through enough trauma already without ALL OF THIS happening to her! But then there was one of those simultaneously creepy/ epic scenes where she takes control of Rob’s mind and makes him see the kids he murdered and Rob crashes the car and dies so she gets away but you can tell she’s so upset with herself for using her abilities, and there are just so many feels.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about that scene between Ruby and Liam at the gas station…The characters in this series have this especially painful thing they do where when they’re going through their (entirely understandable) emotional issues they tend to blame themselves for everything and try to go off on their own (as if any of the others would actually let them leave), and that’s exactly what Liam is trying to do when Ruby finds him, and we find out that he still doesn’t remember her, and he thinks he should hate her since she’s with the League, but he’s still completely in love with her, and doesn’t know why. He feels so much for someone he doesn’t even think he knows and thinks he shouldn’t trust, and it’s messing with him so badly, but he’s such a good person and he just internalizes everything until this moment when he completely breaks down to her, and oh god, you can just feel his emotional pain and it’s all so devastating because THIS BOOK IS JUST HEAPING THE TRAUMA ON EVERYONE.

tumblr_nhuncgOwtl1rkkmedo4_250

But then that whole thing happens where she’s actually able to restore his memory, and they realize they’re both still in love with each other and it was all so amazing and well written. I’m kind of concerned though, like are the memories going to retain, or will there be issues about it between them later on? I don’t know, for now I’m just going to be happy that my OTP is finally back together!

But then that whole thing happens where she’s actually able to restore his memory, and they realize they’re both still in love with each other and it was all so amazing and well written. I’m kind of concerned though, like are the memories going to retain, or will there be issues about it between them later on? I don’t know, for now I’m just going to be happy that my OTP is finally back together!

So fast forward a little bit and they get this message to meet Cate at an abandoned Dairy Queen. We all know it isn’t actually going to be Cate, so I was pretty apprehensive already when Ruby and Vida went in alone (again, as if any of the boys are actually going to stay in the car). And for good reason, because guess who was there instead! ACTUAL PIECE OF CRAP CLANCY GRAY.

tumblr_inline_ndtpr8Jrvn1qgfq5s

CLANCY GRAY YOU PIECE OF CRAP GO AWAY. LEAVE RUBY ALONE. LEAVE VIDA ALONE. EFF YOU.

And just as would be expected, nothing he does is okay. The way he manipulates everyone and uses his abilities is so incredibly disturbing, and I spent the whole scene so afraid that he was going to use his abilities to kill someone. Thank god Ruby was able to take control over him, because I needed to see him not win for once after everything he did in the first book.

Fast forwarding again to when they’re all back in the League base, we get a couple of major plot twists. For one, Cole is a Red. I’m not really sure yet what I think of Cole. I really want to like him, and I think I do overall, but I’m a little worried about his loyalty to the League and the issues between him and Liam. I do think I’m probably going to get extremely attached to him in the next one. Anyway, there’s this part in the League base where Ruby is fighting and it looks like she’s going to be overwhelmed but then Cole shows up and says something about needing a light, and his whole arm catches on fire, and I’m just like “Oh god, this means there’s some adults with Psi abilities.”. I really hope we get to see more of this in the next book, especially now that we have a representative of Reds who hasn’t been entirely mentally destroyed as far as we know.

Then, in our other major plot twist, there may be a cure to IAAN, and the development of abilities. We actually find this out after an extended string of EFF YOU CLANCY moments (that part where he made Ruby think he was there when he had actually escaped made me literally throw my e-reader across the couch in frustration), but eventually we learn that there might be a cure, and Clancy’s mother, the first lady, is the only one who knows how to access it. So I guess finding her/developing the cure is going to be a major part of the third book.

So let’s talk about that thing that happened in the ending now…

 tumblr_mueuho4dZx1ri5qp0o3_500

Just like the first book, this one lulls you into a false sense of security. You think everything is going to be okay. Ruby locks Clancy Gray in a closet, everyone is together, it looks like the book is coming to a close.

AND THEN THEY GET FREAKING BOMBED.

And everything goes straight to Hell. People are dead, the main characters are trying to get out from this destroyed underground base, and I am so incredibly worried that one of these amazing characters I’ve grown so attached to is going to die.

But then they get out from the base and we see that our main group has survived and Ruby sees Jude, so we know he’s okay, everyone I care about is safe, and the book can end now. Right?

But then the kid Ruby saw turns around and it wasn’t Jude.

NO I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS. MY ADORABLE CINNAMON ROLL, TOO PURE FOR THIS WORLD, WHO BALANCES OUT ALL THE DARKNESS IS NOT DEAD. HE WAS NOT UNINTENTIONALLY LEFT BEHIND TO DIE IN A COLLAPSED UNDERGROUND COMPOUND. NOPE. HE’S GOING TO BE OKAY. RIGHT?

So for some reason Ruby lets Liam and Chubs go back into the wreckage without her, since just what we need is another chance for them to be separated, and they come back alone, but they have the remains of the compass that Jude wore through the whole book, and there’s this moment of completely horrible, devastating, silent recognition…

NO NO NO NO THAT’S THE ABSOLUTE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO JUDE. HE HATES BEING ALONE AND HE’S PROBABLY CLAUSTROPHOBIC AND AFRAID OF THE DARK FROM BEING LOCKED IN CLOSETS AS A CHILD, AND YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE HIM DIE ALONE, CRUSHED TO DEATH, IN THE DARK. THAT’S THE CRUELEST THING YOU COULD DO TO HIM. OH GOD I AM NOT OKAY.

And I’m already sobbing my eyes out, because it’s been a long time since I was so badly affected by a fictional character death, and this one hit me so extraordinarily hard, but then Ruby completely breaks down, and you can just feel how entirely anguished she is and she starts blaming herself and oh god this book has just become a complete onslaught of PAIN.

And then just to top it all off, guess who emerges from all the destruction! FREAKING CLANCY.

OH, SO FREAKING CLANCY GETS TO SURVIVE BUT JUDE DOESN’T? JUDE, WHO DID ABSOULTELY NOTHING WRONG IN HIS LIFE IS FREAKING CRUSHED UNDER A BUILDING, AND CLANCY WHO HAS DONE EVERYTHING WRONG TO EVERYONE, IS PERFECTLY OKAY. LIKE I GET THAT CLANCY IS IMPORTANT AND ALL BUT CAN WE JUST TRADE HIM FOR JUDE OR SOMETHING? BECAUSE CLANCY NEEDS TO DIE. AND I NEED MY SWEET PRECIOUS RAY OF SUNSHINE BACK.

Love-and-Other-Drugs

                So yeah, that ending affected me really bad. It actually took me a little while to start writing this because I was so darn upset over that death. Thank god for that amazing moment at the end with Ruby showing Clancy the research he thought he had destroyed, because otherwise I would be even more of an emotional wreck.

So what can I say about this book overall? Well for one it was an amazing second book in the trilogy. It can be hard to introduce new characters and still incorporate the earlier one, but this book does it so seamlessly. Actually I think it’s the characters that mainly keep me invested in this series. They’re all so amazing and complex, and easy to feel for, and I genuinely care so much about what happens to them. You know, I think I just want like a really good domestic AU fanfiction of these characters. Like a nice peaceful story about Ruby Daly and her adoptive little brother Jude and her boyfriend Liam and their friends Chubs and Vida, and Zu the twelve year old who hangs out with all these teenagers and storylines where I can read about them without constantly worrying that someone is going to die. Because this series is absolutely amazing, and I just generally want more of these characters. Let’s just hope nothing too terrible happens to them in “In the Afterlight”, because I am far too invested in this series.

Well that’s about it for now! See you next time for my thoughts on “In the Afterlight”!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s