The Darkest Minds
by Alexandra Bracken
In this dystopian world, Ruby is snatched away from her parents at age 10 and sent to live at a concentration camp for kids with powers. A worldwide epidemic IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) has killed off most children, and those that remain have alarming abilities. In the camps, the children are sorted into colors: Blues have telekinetic abilities, Greens have eidetic memories and are fast code-breakers, Yellows control electricity, I'm not really sure what Reds do - set things on fire, maybe? The most dangerous of all are the Oranges, who have mind-control abilities. Most of the Oranges are psychopaths who enjoy using their abilities to create murder and mayhem. Ruby is an Orange - she accidentally mindwiped her parents who now have no memory of her - but she's terrified of the other Oranges, so she Jedi mind-tricks the doctor at camp Thurmond into believing that she is a relatively harmless Green.
I had plenty of questions about this world. What's the endgame for the remaining adults? Are they planning for this to be the end of the human race? Why don't they train the Greens or Blues to do useful things? Sure, there probably are some parents who'd be delighted to ship off their teen and pre-teen children - but I found it hard to believe that absolutely none of them want their children back. Why are all of the Oranges totally crazy, and why is Ruby the exception? A few of those questions get answered, but plenty of them don't, leaving lots of room in the sequel to further explore.
Ruby spends six horrible years at Thurmond, until she manages to get broken out by a rebel faction hoping to recruit her to their cause.
The Darkest Minds contains plenty of stock-in-trade ingredients of a great dystopian. There are plenty of car chases, daring escapes, scavenging for supplies in a wrecked and empty landscape, multiple warring political factions and of course, a love triangle.
While Ruby is on the run, she meets up with a small tribe of survivors, Liam and Chubs, both Blues, and Zu a sweet little girl Yellow who doesn't speak. The four of them travel in their battered mini-van nicknamed "Black Betty" throughout Virginia looking for "The Slip Kid" a leader who's supposedly set up an asylum for kids like them.
Of course, when they find The Slip Kid, he turns out to be none other than Clancy Gray - the president's son. Ruby is torn between sweet and loyal Liam and smooth-talking, well-dressed Clancy who can possibly teach her how to control her powers. She's terrified of accidentally erasing someone's memory again. In fact, I liked that Ruby is not an overly competent Mary-Sue at all. She runs around like a scared little bunny rabbit for most of the book and though she has awesome mind powers, she isn't really sure how to use them and she doesn't really want to.
This book ends on such a cliffhanger! Readers will be dying to know what happens next.
I borrowed this book from the library.