Essentially this is a dystopian YA trilogy. A disease that only affects children has killed off the majority of the underage population and left the survivors with one of five different powers ...
Essentially this is a dystopian YA trilogy. A disease that only affects children has killed off the majority of the underage population and left the survivors with one of five different powers that are classified into colours according to how dangerous they are. These children are sent into camps and the story begins with the main character in one of the most infamous camps in the USA.
Because I have nothing better to do I seem to find a lot of comfort in rereading my what I call “teenfever” bookshelf. Often however I’m disappointed, because well, I grew up, and the books didn’t. I’m not talking about ageing well because out of all the YA novels I liked as a teen I’d say this is the least problematic in terms of gender etc. Also this review contains spoilers…so.
I also want to start by saying that the “camps” in this book are very clearly meant to be fictional versions of concentration camps. And while they are a big part of the narrative and reading about them adds a lot to our understanding of the characters and issues at stake, it also always a little bit a lot uncomfortable, because well, I don’t think we should trivialise that part of history and it really shouldn’t feature in pop culture as often as it does in the form that it does. There isn’t really an overarching point being made in this series and so the inclusion of the camps feels more like part of our reading pleasure than anything else.
Having said that, I love this series. I don’t love all three books equally and they aren’t perfect, but I still love them.
I like the main character, there’s no “pick me” energy in her, there’s real character development. She’s strong but flawed, she has a real sort of mirror of her worst self in Clancy. The writing is not the start of the show, it’s not bad or clunky, I would say its functional, the real star is the adventure, the thriller aspect along with the main character herself.
The third instalment leaves some, AHEM many threads loose. Mainly the whole Sam and the girls at Thurmond storyline goes almost completely unexplored. Like seriously, she doesn’t even have a family and yet once they free the camp, we never hear about her again. And also the Reds are manning the camp and yet that doesn’t seem to be an issue, like at all? And we never find out what happens to them, would that not have been important? Somehow? somewhere? It really feels like the ending to this series is completely rushed, it didn’t have to end so abruptly. What happens to Clancy is interesting and what she does is definitely something that is teased throughout the series in a way, once she realises what she isn’t capable of but it’s a little flat. There’s very little introspection or real dialogue between them. The Reds are another big just black hole in the plot, they cast such a long shadow over the whole world building because now that most of the oranges are dead they’re the only other dangerous colours and there is so much mystery and potential in seeing that storyline through. Especially with the introduction of Cole, the way that he’s killed off seems very rushed and anticlimactic, although I understand that they needed an impactful death to make everything seem more high stakes and real. Going deeper into the fact that he was a Red and maybe introducing some of the other Reds would have made a lot of sense to me and it’ll always seem like an unexplored goldmine to me.
That brings me to another point, the love interest and the romance aspect of the series. In a lot of ways I feel like the romance is just the right amount for me, in this series. Because it is there but at the same time there are whole sections of the book where Liam isn’t even there, or is only kinda there. And I’m ok with that, mostly because while I do like him it gives her space to grow and become her own person outside of the camp. Aaaaaand also I’m sorry but I’m a Cole stan. In the last book I really felt like they made more sense and it would have added to the story to have a sort of love triangle cheating thing going on. I know I know I know love triangles are not well received and they’re cliche and whatnot BUT if there was ever a time, this would have been that time.
The why aren’t you dead yet
The only characters that I really had a problem with and that just flat out annoyed me the whole time were Cate and Vida. I’m sorry, they were assholes, but they were assholes that we were somehow supposed to feel bad for thinking they were assholes. Especially Cate, did we not agree that Cate was the worst? No? Ok well I was not there for the Cate reformation so, I don’t accept it.
With these types of YA series I think it’s rare for the books to get better, often they get worse, and it’s the same with this one. Although it’s action packed enough and entertaining enough for me to want to read through it all, none of it compares to the first book. Even though the first book is frustrating in terms of how much we see of Ruby’s power and her willingness to use it. One of the reasons for this is because I think that few dystopian YA novels are really good at worldbuilding once you start really paying attention to it. The Hunger Games was a success story in that sense. In the case of The Darkest Minds however it felt like the more you thought about the future and solutions and the president and all that jazz, the less believable it became and the less invested I was. When they were on a sort of deranged road trip things made more sense because we weren’t really getting into the nitty gritty of a revolution and different factions etc. This is particularly obvious when it comes to Alice the annoying, I want someone to just set you on fire **cough** **Cole** **coughcough** and the whole fighting versus just making super cool home movies about our feelings factions in the third book. Nobody cared before when they saw pictures of dead kids, but suddenly some kid named Zack talks about how hard it is and people care? Nope, nada nopetynope, that was so stupid.
At the end of the day, it’s an entertaining read. Simple as that.
**this is the end of my rant, apologies apologies**