Posts Tagged ‘the darkest minds’

Aaand I’m back after my long hiatus!  Thank you for your patience.

First things first; confession time,  I reached exactly 0 words total on my NaNoWriMo project.  Sigh. My first challenge was that I was too engrossed in In the Afterlight the last in Alexandra Bracken’s Darkest Minds trilogy.  This was released just a day or so before NaNoWriMo, which was just mean!  I really couldn’t put the thing down.  I found this last instalment in Ruby and co’s story to be engrossing and wonderfully satisfying.  I probably won’t do a full review on it as it’s been a little while since I read it, but it got a five star rating from me on GoodReads.

Then in November things became unexpectedly crazy at work and I spent all day every day working my butt off to keep our support queue under some kind of control.  After that the last thing I felt like doing was coming home and writing.  It was much easier to delve into someone else’s world than to work on creating my own.  These are all, excuses, I  know, and I’m not proud of myself.  Maybe next year I’ll do better.

Other non-reading events in my November included starting the plans for the big trip I am taking with my husband next year.  As new Canadian citizens we get a one off 50% reduction in train travel with the Canadian rail company ViaRail through the Cultural Access Pass.  We are taking this fantastic opportunity to make the cross continental train trip from Vancouver in British Columbia back to our home in Montreal.  This is something we have talked about for many years, and this opportunity is too good to pass up. It promises to be an awesome trip.

On a less pleasant note, this month my hearing loss was confirmed and I am being fitted with hearing aids.  Yes, hearing loss sucks, but at least I live in a time and place where tech can help.  I’m blogging my hearing aid journey at thehearingaiddiaries.wordpress.com.  Check it out if you’re interested.  Fortunately my ability to enjoy audiobooks is not impacted and will only be enhanced by the hearing aids.

Other books I read in November included Tribulare by Anne Robillard which is the the seventh in her supernatural fantasy series A.N.G.E.  I must admit I found this particular volume a little depressing.  We’re clearly in the low point of the apocalyptic drama and it seems only bad stuff happened.  Our protagonists are also too caught up in their own personal dramas to be able to operate effectively.  Guys.  Come on.  If the end of the world is approaching and Satan is poised to take over, now is not really the time to indulge in your personal angst.

At the beginning of the month I was in a bit of a reading slump.  I tried my usual trick of browsing the first chapter of several books in my TBR list to see if any caught my attention.  It took quite a few attempts before I finally picked up Grave Mercy, the first in Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin trilogy.  I was immediately hooked.  Within a few pages LaFevers had transported me to 15th Century Brittany with a kick ass protagonist.  I am now in the process of marathoning all three books in the series and will do a full series review when I’m done.

That’s all I have for you today.  Have a good weekend reading or whatever you’re doing and I’ll be back with more reviews soon.

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The Darkest Minds: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken is the followup to The Darkest Minds.  This series tells the story of Ruby, a young girl living in a world where most of the children have been killed by a virus but the survivors have been left with supernatural powers.  Ruby is one such survivor with the power to control other people’s minds.  The country has been left devastated by the loss of the children and fear of those who remain.  Ruby and her friends are running from place to place trying to find safety.

I adored both The Darkest Minds and the novella In Time so it was a little surprising that I was somewhat disappointed by Never Fade.  It actually took me several attempts to sit down and read it.  This is the second book in an expected trilogy, perhaps it was a little of middle book syndrome. This also appears to be at the lowest point of our protagonist’s arc, and as such I found it a little depressing.  Ruby is dealing with a lot of guilt, doubt and self loathing in this book which makes it rather a dark read.  I also missed the camaraderie between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu that was a cornerstone of the first book.

What I liked

The concept.  I continue to love the concept behind the series of the IAAN plague and the survivors’ psychic powers.  Bracken’s worldbuilding is excellent with various groups trying to deal with the fallout of IAAN but not necessarily having the best interests of the survivors at heart.  

The characters.  All of the main characters are engaging and draw you into their story.  Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the other books; I care about Ruby and found it hard to read about her being in such a low place, especially without her friends around emotionally to help her through it.  The same is true of the other main characters.  Liam and Chubbs too are dealing with some issues which means they are not there for Ruby to the extent they were in the first book.  I also loved the new characters we meet – Jude and Vida.  

Brisk pacing.  The action never lets up really; Ruby and team seem to lurch from one crisis to another.

Hooks for the final book.  There is some really interesting setup for the final volume.  I’m really looking forward to reading it!

What I didn’t like

Weakened relationships.  The bond between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu was one of the cornerstones of the first book and I really missed that from Never Fade.  So much has happened to them and they have done such things since they were last together that their bond is very much strained.  I hope they get their act together for the final book.

Unrealistic recoveries.  At various points in the book certain characters are gravely ill or seriously wounded.  Yet it seems that a day or two later they are up and fighting fit again.  That did jolt me out of the story on several occasions.

All in all, although I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the earlier book and novella, I felt it gave a solid foundation for the final book.  I gave The Darkest Minds: Never Fade three and a half stars out of five.

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult dystopian novel which tells the story of Ruby, a young survivor of the IAANS plague.  IAANS killed off most of the children between the ages of about eight and fourteen and those who survived, like Ruby, are left with supernatural powers.  This frightens the government who responds by placing them in “rehabilitation camps.”  The Darkest Minds is about Ruby’s escape from such a camp and her search for a way to live a normal life.

What I liked

Multi-layered characters.  The people we meet in The Darkest Minds are generally neither wholly good nor wholly evil.  There are a lot of shades of grey in the characters and it’s often difficult to tell whose side a person is on.  Even those characters who are not, shall we say, altruistically concerned about Ruby’s welfare have good and believable motives for their actions.  This adds a great deal of depth to the characters and a nice level of narrative tension.  Even the mute Suzume has a real personality.

Beautifully descriptive writing style.  I immediately fell in love with Bracken’s way of writing.  She has a wonderful way of describing things that made me laugh as well as making crystal clear what she meant.  A couple of examples I noted were “the kid is basically a grumpy seventy-year-old man trapped in a seventeen-year-old’s body.”  Wonderful!  It also describes Chubs to a T.  “We got Hansel and Greteled.” Tee hee!

Nice balance between narrative tension and romance.  Too often in YA, the romance overshadows the narrative plot, which for me is off-putting.  The romance between Ruby and Liam was beautifully developed – enough to really make me feel sad at the ending – yet didn’t overshadow the plot.  After all, these kids are basically running for their lives – I’m sure romance isn’t at the forefront of their minds.

The worldbuilding.  I really enjoyed the world of The Darkest Minds.  The premise of the IAANS disease and the supposed threat of the superpowered kids was well thought out and executed.  Again, it was portrayed that there was neither a wholly good or wholly wrong side in this struggle.  

Brisk pacing.  Tied into the above, other than a brief slump about a third of the way through, the book kept me listening in to see what happened next.  The fact that the characters had shades of grey kept that tension high, not knowing what their real motives were.

The narration.  Amy McFadden narrated this book and did a great job.  She really brought Ruby, Liam and the others alive for me.  Here’s a sample

[audio http://samples.audible.com/bk/brll/004835/bk_brll_004835_sample.mp3%5D

What I didn’t like

Other than a brief point where I lost interest about a third of the way through, I loved The Darkest Minds.  It is a gripping story with wonderful characters.

It will come as no surprise to learn, then, that I gave The Darkest Minds five stars out of five.

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five-stars

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was originally published on Canadian eReader

I think my reading of House of Hades must have infected me with some demigod ADHD because I am trying to read no fewer than four books at the same time.  Sigh.  So many great books, so little time.

I couldn’t decide what audiobook to listen to at work so I used a random number generator to help me choose.  The selection landed on The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March.  For those of you who don’t know, this is set in the same world as Finding Colin Firth but written and set earlier.  So far I’m enjoying it – I loved the setting and the characters are relatable.   A full review will come shortly.

After listening to a few chapters though I realised I was more in the mood for some YA dystopia, so I picked up Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds.  I’d been hooked by the preview on Bracken’s website and I am continuing to enjoy it.  Ruby seems an interesting, if damaged character, and I look forward to reading more of her story.  Again, expect a full review soon.

I had been asked to review Paul Levine’s State vs. Lassiter so I have added it to this week’s TBR.  I’ve not yet started it, but I will of course share my thoughts with you.

This week is Allegiant week of course, and I have added it to my library.  I’m hearing that this doesn’t follow the usual YA dystopian mould, which has angered some fans.  I have this in both Audible and ebook formats, but will primarily read it rather than listen to it as I’m really not fond of the narrator for this series.  However, the audio format will allow me to continue to follow the story while I wait for tickets to come in at work.  You can expect my review in due course.

Reading Roundup – 11th October 2013Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat
Series: Doctor Who
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: Blu Ray DVD
Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt
Length: 75 minutes
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five-stars

However, my one big obsession this week has been Doctor Who.  The trailer for the 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, was released and looks absolutely stunning.  I really can’t wait to see this, although as I am working, I will not be able to join other Who fans in the cinema.  David Tennant and Matt Smith are both very easy on the eye, and are both wonderful actors.  Add John Hurt into the mix as an intriguing new “Doctor” and this is made of win.

Now, while I am not a dyed in the wool Whovian, I do love the show – it’s one of the few for which I have bought all seasons on iTunes (at least for New Who – from the 2005 reboot on).  I love its mixture of scary, funny and touching, and the writing and acting are usually excellent.  I am particularly invested in the Doctor’s relationship with River Song, thanks to the acting talents of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston.

Despite adoring New Who, I’ve not really paid much attention to Classic Who since hiding behind my parents’ sofa from the Daleks as a child.  Like most Brits above a certain age, I strongly identify with one of the Classic Doctors; for me Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) was the Doctor, he of the long scarf and toothy grin.  As part of the tributes to the show for it’s 50th anniversary year BBC America and Space in Canada are showing half hour documentaries focusing on each of the Doctor’s incarnations  which is then paired with a classic episode from that Doctor’s era.  I have watched from the First to the Ninth Doctors and it is fascinating to see how the character has developed.  Tor also has an excellent series on each of the Doctors and their best episodes.

I’m also looking forward to An Adventure in Space and Time, a documentary behind the creation of Doctor Who in which David Bradley of Harry Potter/Game of Thrones fame takes on the role of William Hartnell who played the first Doctor.  That sounds as if it will be a great insight into what went on.

This has all whetted my appetite for all things Doctor-y, so I have been spending my week when not working or reading watching Doctor Who videos online.  I have ordered the Doctors Revisited DVDs so I look forward to those.

Added to my library this week

Other than Allegiant, I’ve not added anything to my library this week.

I did put a hold on a couple of audiobooks from the library. The first of these is Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.  I’m hearing this is a wonderfully sweet , beautifully written teen romance.  It’s not my usual genre, so when I saw it was available from the library, I thought I would borrow it first.  It’s not yet available for me, but once I do get round to listening to it, I’ll let you know what I think.

The second one I placed on hold was Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver.  Again I will let you know what I think.

So what has been your obsession this week?  Let me know in the comments.