The Darkest Minds: review and giveaway

November 15, 2012 4 star books, alexandra bracken, giveaway, shatter me, supernatural, the darkest minds, tonya, unwind 103

the darkest minds alexandra bracken arc giveaway

The Darkest Minds
by Alexandra Bracken

“Imagine someone reaching straight into your chest, past the bones and blood and guts, and taking a nice firm hold on your spinal cord. Now imagine that they start shaking you so fast, the world starts bulging and buckling under you. Imagine not being able to figure out later if the thought in your head is really yours or an unintentional keepsake from someone else’s mind. Imagine the guilt of knowing you saw someone’s deepest, darkest fear or secret…”

In The Darkest Minds, the children are diseased. Some drop dead for no apparent reason before they reach the age of ten. Those that don’t begin to develop abilities they don’t understand, and can’t control. Some merely gain superior mental acuity, excelling at math and science far beyond their years. For others, their abilities take on a more dangerous shape–telekinesis, electrokinesis, mind reading, mind control.

After waking the morning of her tenth birthday to parents with no memory of her existence, Ruby is taken to Thurmond, a Rehabilitation Center she soon finds is much more like a concentration camp. The children are separated by their abilities, watched and controlled every hour of every day. They are not allowed to speak to one another, to play, or to go to school. Their days consist of nothing but meals, and menial labor.

Ruby manages to escape Thurmond, and by chance meets up with a group of runaways, just like her. Liam, who is a Blue–a telekinetic; Charles “Chubs”–a Green problem solver; and Zu, a Yellow who can create and control electricity. Together, they travel in search of East River, a fabled camping ground where other kids with abilities have managed to make a life for themselves, under the radar.

Of course, this journey is not without obstacles, and if they find East River, will it really be the Promised Land they’re looking for?

The Darkest Minds reminded me a bit of a cross between Unwind and Shatter Me; teens with supernatural abilities, who must run from adults who seek to harm them. It was exciting, and very well paced; tense, but not without moments of humor (and swoon!) that kept it from being overwhelming. And I appreciated the questions raised–is anything inherently good or bad, or does intention weigh more than an act itself?

I very much enjoyed The Darkest Minds, but I will warn you–my initial review said only: WORST ENDING EVER. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as a cliffhanger, but it did leave me emotional and wishing for the next book immediately.

The Darkest Minds is out December 18th, 2012.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

This review also appears on Goodreads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Win an ARC of The Darkest Minds!

This title won’t be out until mid-December, but thanks to our friends at Disney*Hyperion, we have an advanced copy to give away to our readers. All you need to do is fill in your contact info in the form below and leave a comment on this post. This contest is open U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 and older (or 13 and older with parental permission).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

103 Responses to “The Darkest Minds: review and giveaway”

  1. Book Wookie

    I just added this one to my TBR pile this morning, but I think I’ll read Shatter Me first. I’ve heard great things about it.

  2. Danielle Nguyen

    There are so many super powers I would want, but I think telekinesis would be at the top of my list. Mostly because I am SO LAZY. It would come in very handy when my book is across the room or something :)

  3. Lori

    I’ve been waiting for this book for months and now I’m starting to see all the reviews coming in from people who got ARCs and it’s making me even more excited! I love stories about people with super-powers. Especially when they’re young and just coming to terms with their powers and what that means for their futures, their relationships, and their responsibilities towards other people. I can’t wait to read this. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • tonya

      I don’t think it’s very much like Shatter Me in terms of style or story, but the supernatural abilities / imprisonment elements rang a bell for me. I think if the premise of Shatter Me interested you, but the book itself wasn’t your speed, you’d definitely like The Darkest Minds. :)

  4. Jessie

    This one seems to be racketing up the legion of fans. Kara gave it a good rating, and a Midnight Garden giveaway seems indicative of a good novel, as well! I love the idea for this – even if it’s another series – and can’t wait to see what Bracken does with her book!

    • tonya

      I hope it gets some good buzz, I enjoyed it so much. I’m always wary of a series, but hopefully Bracken is able to keep my interest throughout the next two books.

    • tonya

      I haven’t read The Child Thief, but I would say this has a very different feel than Shadow and Bone. It’s less fantasy driven, though it does have its dark moments.

      Have you read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas? If you loved Shadow and Bone, I think you’d love it. :)

  5. Unknown

    I read Alexandra’s last book and liked it well enough, but this def seems more my speed! Can’t wait to this one.

    • tonya

      I haven’t read her other work, but I’m definitely inspired to check it out now. :) I hope you like The Darkest Minds better!

  6. Aspen Firefly

    I was never really that interested in reading the book until I read the bolded quote at the top of the post. Now I know I HAVE to read it. It sounds amazing! If I had a superpower, I would like to have the ability to heal others and maybe shapeshift. XD

    • tonya

      Isn’t it funny how that works? Sometimes I think they should do away with synopses, and just give us passages from the books instead.

      Shapeshifting would be a really cool power. I’d probably change into a turtle, haha.


    I’ve been fascinated by the premise for this one, but I’m always a little bit frightened of how an author may choose to approach something like this. This sounds like it’s all Ruby’s POV? I hope so. I wasn’t a fan of “Unwind” overall, but the headache that was every character and their dog’s POV just clinched it for me.

    But anyway. Swoon. Superpowers. I’m there.

    Great review! :)

    • tonya

      Yep, all one POV. Truthfully, I haven’t finished Unwind yet, mostly because while I’m really interested in the story, the writing is so flat (and jumps around so much) I can’t seem to get invested in the characters.

      The Darkest Minds doesn’t follow the same style, but there are elements of the story that reminded me of Unwind.

      Hope you like it! :)

  8. becca fowler

    Well since I read both Unwind and Shatter Me and LOVED them, I really hope I win this book, so I can add it to my list of loved books! Haha. thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Aneeqah

    Ahh, I am ridiculously excited for this book, I can’t even right now. It just sounds like something I would totally fall heads over heels in love with. Just the concept, the whole prison thing, to supernatural powers- everything in this book is a combination of what I love to see in a book. So I think that I will seriously enjoy this book!

    Thanks for the giveaway! <3

    • tonya

      Yay! It’s one of those books that combines a bunch of different things I’ve enjoyed in other books–and does it well. Very interesting read. I hope you enjoy it, good luck in the giveaway! :)

  10. Heather

    I love the whole paranormal culture, and I loved Shatter Me when I read it, I can not wait for the 2nd book to come out. This looks like it will be a great read!

  11. Heather

    I love the whole paranormal culture and this looks like a great read. I did enjoy Shatter Me and I can not wait until the 2nd book comes out.

  12. A Canadian Girl

    I love stories where people have supernatural abilities and when you get questions like “is anything inherently good or bad, or does intention weigh more than an act itself” being raised, that’s just a bonus. Thanks for the giveaway!

    P.S. I’d want my superpower to be telepathy or teleportation :)

  13. Gina @ My Precious

    I’m excited about this one because the story sounds unique and different. If I had a superpower I think I would like it to be reading people’s minds and being able to alter their thoughts.

    • tonya

      I don’t know if I’d want to know what’s going on in peoples’ minds–knowing me, it’d be super embarrassing, haha.

      I hope you enjoy The Darkest Minds when you get a chance to read it! :)

  14. Shelver506

    Oh man. Is flight an option? I’d love to be able to fly.

    And yay! This book sounds so good. The cover didn’t do a thing for me, so I’ve ignored it, but after this review? To the TBR list it goes.

    • tonya

      Being able to fly would be at once terrifying and wonderful, I think. Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? The flight scenes had me so tense, and jealous at the same time.

      The cover is kind of bland, isn’t it? I’ve been hoping to see a new cover announcement, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening. Glad the review inspired you to give it a shot, though! :)

  15. Katta

    My superpower would be rather boring, just perfect memory so I’d never forget anything.

    Looking forward to this book in December!

  16. Katta

    My superpower would be rather boring, just perfect memory so I’d never forget anything.

    Looking forward to this book in December!

    • tonya

      That would be awesome. Except there are some things I wish I could forget… like that really embarrassing moment in 8th grade… haha.

      Hope you get a chance to read soon!

  17. Christy LoveOfBooks

    Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to this book until your review. It sounds sooo good though! Ha – I haven’t read Unwind or Shatter Me yet. I guess I’m way behind on these books.

    • tonya

      I’m so glad! I hope you get a chance to read it soon. :) (And *whisper* I haven’t finished Unwind yet, so you’re not that behind, hee.)

  18. Heidi

    Ack! I’m so nervous that the ending of this one will have me IN A RAGE. We shall see–I’m still going to read it as I have an ARC, but I appreciate the caution.

  19. Roxy

    This sounds like a great book, like nothing I’ve ever read before! Thanks for the chance to win!!!

  20. Wendy Darling

    Is anything inherently good or bad, or does intention weigh more than an act itself?

    And that’s the sentence that has convinced me I would enjoy it. I confess I wasn’t sure this was the book for me, but seeing your excited reaction to it has persuaded me that I need to give it another try!

    • tonya

      Did you start it? I’m a pretty easy mark for books about supernatural abilities, but I really like where Bracken went with this one. And the swoony boy didn’t hurt. ;)

      I hope you like it if you happen to try again!

  21. April

    I’ve been on a supernatural kick lately so I’m excited based on the review! If I could have a superpower it would for telekinetic powers, but that would make me lazy huh? So maybe mind control? Yes that sounds like one for me!

    • tonya

      I feel like I would get myself in so much trouble with either of those… I’d much rather the ability to be invisible. I’m totally Violet from The Incredibles, haha.

  22. Kara_Malinczak

    I am reading this myself and really enjoying it. I am also totally preparing myself for the rotten ending. And the next book is sooo far away! Glad you enjoyed this one. Great review.

  23. aoshi

    Had this book on my radar for like ever considering Alex Bracken’s books are impossible to find in my town. I’ve heard her writing is lovely, so I’d love to experience it and Darkest Minds just sounds fantastic.

    • tonya

      I’ve never read anything else from her, but I’m definitely going to be checking out the rest of her works, now.

      Good luck in the giveaway! :)

  24. erin

    Sounds absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for the giveaway. I’ve had this on my radar for a while now and I it’s entering “I wants it now” airspace :)

    • tonya

      Haha, I’m so happy I could bump it up your list! Hope you enjoy it when you get to it… and good luck in the giveaway!

    • tonya

      I am such a sucker for superpowers. I’ve always wanted to be a superhero. ;)

      Hope you enjoy it when you read!

  25. Vivien

    Well, if I loved Unwind and Shatter Me then I’m sure to really enjoy this read!! I’m always torn about the super power….Telekinesis sounds really useful. But then I think of compulsion and how THAT could be really useful….or like Storm powers…because you know, mother nature for the win!

    • tonya

      Yes, Storm’s powers would be seriously cool. Telekinesis would be fun since I’m lazy, but I think more than anything I’d like the ability to be invisible.

      Hope you enjoy Darkest Minds when you read! :)

  26. Keertana

    AMAZING review! I am SO glad you enjoyed this one! :D I loved Brightly Woven, so I’m eagerly looking forward to this, although I might just wait for it since it seems to have a cliffhanger ending and I simply detest those. Still, I might not be able to wait to dive into this one! ;)

    • tonya

      Thank you! I haven’t read Brightly Woven, but I’ll definitely be checking it out now. She’s a fabulous writer.

      I don’t think it’s really a cliffhanger; you’re definitely left wondering what’s going to happen next, but it’s not a sheer dropoff like some other books. Just kind of a sad conclusion.

      Hope you enjoy! :)

  27. starryeyedjen

    I LOVE books featuring supernatural abilities. I just read one that was rather disappointing, but this review makes me very hopeful that I’ll love The Darkest Minds. Even with “the worst ending ever”. :P

    • tonya

      Me too! I think I still want to be a superhero on some level. ;)

      I hope you like this one more than your recent disappointing read!

  28. GillyB

    I really loved Shatter Me, so any comparison is going to pique my interest. If I had a super power, I’d really love being invisible. Or no! Being able to teleport. No more airports. No more traffic. Instant gratification.

    • tonya

      Teleportation would be AMAZING. I have so many friends scattered across the globe. It would be great to just beam myself to them. Someone needs to work on that ability.

  29. unbrokensky

    I’m really looking forward to this book! Sounds really good–except for the emotional cliffhanger?! That’s what we get from reading books in a series, though… lol

    • tonya

      Haha, it’s the plight of a YA reader, I guess. I can’t seem to stop myself from starting series, even if I get annoyed with the wait between installments.

      Hope you like The Darkest Minds when you get a chance to read it!

  30. dragongirl

    I really want to read it since you said it’s like a cross between Unwind and Shatter Me. :D I love both of those books, and The Darkest Minds sounds amazing!!

    • tonya

      It definitely has some elements in common with both Unwind and Shatter Me. I hope you enjoy it when you have a chance to read it!

    • tonya

      Me too! The cliffhanger isn’t really that bad… just made me kind of sad, and wishing for the next book right away so Bracken could fix it. ;)

    • tonya

      Thank you! I don’t really think it’s a HUUUGE cliffhanger. Just a bit of a sad ending.

      Good luck in the giveaway! :)

  31. Tanja - Tanychy

    Wow this book sounds so good! I’ve seen it before but never bothered to read the blurb. I hope I’ll get the chance to read it! :)
    Great review! :)

  32. Kaethe

    I have an intense and abiding love for stories about people with superpowers and for stories about kids who run away. And I liked Unwind.

    Thanks for the ending-warning. I’d hate to have come across that unprepared.

    • tonya

      I do too; those stories just hit me on a really visceral level, for some reason. I guess since at their core they’re about kids grappling with their identity. *shrug*

      I find I deal with “bad” endings much better if I’m warned ahead of time. Well… except for Catching Fire. I definitely threw my book at the end of that one. ;)

  33. Crowinator

    I keep tryign to leave a comment — let’s see if this finally works. Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to Bracken’s next book since I’ve read Brightly Woven and I’m so glad the time is finally here. Your review makes it sound excellent. I think it’s interesting that she relied on color groupings again for the different powers.

    • tonya

      Sorry about the comment issue!

      I haven’t read Bracken’s other work, but I’m definitely looking forward to it now.

      Hope you enjoy The Darkest Minds when you’re able to read. :)

  34. Bonnie R

    Anything comparing a book to Unwind is a definite for me. I totally love the idea for this book… very X-Men sounding. Can’t wait, thanks for the giveaway guys! :)

    • tonya

      It definitely has a little bit of an X-Men feel, which I hope is perpetuated in its sequels.

      Good luck in the giveaway. :)

  35. Karen

    After reading a few reviews for Darkest Minds I realize it’s not at all what I was expecting it to be.

    At least I’m prepared for the ending lol

    I’ll have to get to it soon.

    • tonya

      I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I really enjoyed the story. I hope you enjoy it when you’re able to pick it up! :)

    • tonya

      Shatter Me was one of those books that really excited me when I first read, but did not stand up to the second read. I agree The Darkest Minds was a stronger story.

      And that ending. UGGGHHHH. Is it next Fall yet??