The Darkest Minds, Book 1
By Michael Berry,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Psychic teens escape concentration camps in taut thriller.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Raises questions about refugees, authoritarianism, and children separated from their parents.
Messing with people's memories is dangerous. True friends will stick together in times of trouble. People need to keep hope alive,
Positive Role Models
Ruby wants to learn to control her mysterious abilities, partly for her own interests, partly to protect others. She's a loyal friend to Zu, Liam, and Chubs. She's brave, resilient, and compassionate and is described as "overly empathetic."
Violence & Scariness
Incarcerated kids are treated harshly at the Thurmond camp: beaten, killed and subjected to painful sonic blasts. On the road, they're pursued by government agents and soldiers. A major character is nearly beaten to death. An antagonist is mentally pressured to shoot herself, another to wander through a forest forever. One of the main characters may have been sexually assaulted while under mind control. A major character is shot and gravely wounded.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ruby and Liam are attracted to each other, but their romance remains fairly chaste. They flirt, cuddle, and kiss but don't take things farther, partly due to Ruby's hidden abilities.
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A scattering of "hell," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "damn"; one or two uses of "s--t" and "f--k."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Darkest Minds is the first volume of a psychic thriller series by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger). It's set after most of the world's children have died and the survivors have developed psychic powers, leading to mass incarceration and executions. The lead characters develop a romance, but there's little physical contact between them. Violent scenes include a vicious beating, crowd control with painful sonic blasts, retaliation by kids with mutant powers, and the shooting of a main character. One of the main characters may have been sexually assaulted while under mind control. Characters swear occasionally: "damn," "hell," "ass," "goddamn," with a few uses of "s--t" and "f--k." The novel has been adapted into a movie.
Where to Read
Based on 7 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
As THE DARKEST MINDS opens, 16-year-old Ruby is an inmate at Thurmond, a government rehabilitation camp for children with mysterious powers. In danger of being killed, Ruby has been hiding the true nature of her powers for years. When given the chance to escape, she takes it, only to discover she's a pawn in a more complicated game. She eventually meets up with three other travelers searching for a rumored safe haven, but even her best friends won't be able to protect her when she's forced to make a terrible choice.
Is It Any Good?
Plenty of books feature kids with superpowers, but this one has an intensity that raises it above many others. The Darkest Minds is set in a near-future dystopia that feels fresh and interesting. The characters are multidimensional, especially Ruby, Liam, and Chubs. Author Alexandra Bracken generally keeps the level of suspense high and makes her readers feel the jeopardy in her characters' situations. The climax of the book is harrowing, and readers will want to continue with the next installment immediately.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Darkest Minds shows children being forcibly taken from their parents. What current examples of that are there? What excuses do government officials give in those situations?
The Darkest Minds is set in a dystopia where most children have died and many survivors have superpowers. Why are grim visions of the future popular now?
Why are memories so important to people? Would it be wrong to forcibly change someone's memories?
- Author: Alexandra Bracken
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: December 18, 2012
- Number of pages: 488
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 21, 2018
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