Author: Alexandra Bracken
How Received: BookExpo America
Release Date: 18 December 2012
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening 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 been cursed with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby has spent nearly half her life desperately trying to hide the fact that she’s outwitted the camp’s sorting system—that she isn’t powerless, or safe. She’s one of the dangerous ones… and everyone knows what happens to them.
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 teens who escaped their own camp, pursued along the way by terrifying bounty hunters. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close to him. 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. Before the end, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
I had several problems with this book that really kept me from enjoying it, but let's start with one that should annoy the general populace: the summary describes all but the last few chapters of the book.
A summary should describe, at best, slightly less than the first half of the book. I knew everything that was coming because I had already been told it would happen. Not much came as a surprise to me.
I can hardly fault the book for the way it's marketed; however, I can fault it for being inconsistent and unclear.
Maybe the lack of clarity comes from the fact that I was tired while I was reading it -- however, the way the camps worked, the way the world worked, all seemed a bit fuzzy to me. It's clear that Ruby is supposed to know intimately how they work; the description, to me, just didn't make it clear to the people reading how they did. As for the color designations, I caught on quickly enough, but what they can do - especially Reds, Oranges and Yellows - isn't explained very well. Possibly because it varies from person to person, but it seems to me as if Bracken just didn't know how to work it into the story.
Which doesn't help the fact that I couldn't stand Ruby as a character -- her portrayal was one of the most inconsistent things I've ever read. If Ruby herself was supposed to be a more inconsistent character, I could have lived with it; however, acting one way and thinking about another do not a double-life character make. She seemed constantly indecisive, at times just stupid, and the way everybody else -- and herself -- saw her wasn't a reflection on how she actually acted.
I think I would have liked Ruby, and perhaps the story, infinitley better if it had been written from Chubs' or one of the other Black Betty gang's point of view. Ruby just seemed too wishy-washy, too vague, too uncertain of the world around her to really make a good character.
I'll give the story this, though - I loved the ending. Kind of.
[SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE END OF THE BOOK.]At the end of the book, Ruby removes herself from the mind of the boy she loves in order to save him and decides to stick with the bad guys, because that's sacrificing so others can live and so on and so forth. I love stories where the main character turns ambiguous and gives up things she cares about and suffers and angst and blahblah. I just didn't believe the set-up to Ruby's change of heart; it seemed quickly decided and... I dunno.
[/SPOILERS END HERE.]
I know a lot of other people who have read this book liked it, and I think some of the characters -- Clancy Gray not being one of them, thank you very much -- were interesting and well rounded. For my part, though, I just couldn't understand where Ruby was coming from and as much as the world around her was interesting, I couldn't get a really good grip on where everybody stood.
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 5/10. I do love Bracken's writing style, but this just didn't cut it for me.
Cover Comments: Yes! A cover that reflects on the material in the book! Whooooo!
Have you read The Darkest Minds? Do you agree or disagree with me - somewhat harsh - thoughts on it?