Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA, Sci-fi
Series: #2 in the Darkest Minds Trilogy
Other reviews: Book 1: The Darkest Minds
“Miss Vida,” Liam said, “has anyone never told you that you are positively the whipped cream on the sundae of life?”
She glared at him. “Anyone ever told you your head is shaped like a pencil?”
“That is physically impossible,” Chubs groused.”He’d be – “
“Actually,” Liam began, “Cole once did try to – What?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Chubs said, “apparently the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours. Do continue.”
I know that normally one would put a really meaningful and inspirational quote from the book, but I couldn’t help myself. That’s my favorite bit of the whole book, and I cannot let these hilarious characters continue to be underappreciated for their ability to make me laugh to the point of hysteria.
Hello yes, you are reading the blog of a ghost, because after reading this book I have died. RIP my feels.
If you haven’t already guessed, I have been completely sucked into this series. I think it’s now on my top favorites of all time, and that’s saying something. I didn’t put a Goodreads synopsis here, because I thought it might be a bit spoilerish, considering that this is the second book in a series. But if you want to know what this series is all about, you can check the link to my review of book 1, The Darkest Minds. 😉
My favorite thing about these books by far is the characters. I could go on and on about how much I love them, and honestly I think that’s what makes the story so compelling. As an apocalyptic series, these books have a lot of action and high stakes, but what keeps you hooked is not so much the fact that the world is ending so much as it is the roller coaster ride that is hanging out with the main characters. They are intensely complex, wonderfully flawed, and hilarious enough that I had many times where I couldn’t stop myself from laughing aloud…in public…yeah, I got some weird looks. They feel so real, it’s like you’ve made a bunch of new best friends and you can’t help but love them all.
Bracken has such a talent for telling a compelling story. The way she creates and handles tension is like art; the action is pretty much non-stop, but it’s still evenly paced and doesn’t leave loose ends hanging. And I love how her plot doesn’t come at the cost of her characters. They are all real and feel like real-life people with flaws and meaningful relationships. I feel like a lot of fantasy and sci-fi focuses on the plot to the point that the characters fall flat, but Bracken balances these two parts of a story with masterful precision.
I also admire how she writes endings. Sure, from a fangirl’s standpoint, I am emotionally wounded and now have trust issues, but from a writer’s standpoint, dude. Way to use a cliffhanger, Bracken.
I don’t think I can tell you much more about this book in particular without spoiling you, so I implore you: read The Darkest Minds. You will not regret it.
And of course, I’m now going to go over my spoiler-y thoughts, so if you haven’t read Never Fade and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read further 🙂
Let’s be honest that through this whole book, we didn’t care about the League, other than Ruby getting out of it. Or at least, that’s how I felt. No, what I wanted to know were 2 things: 1) Is Chubs alive? and 2) LIAM!
It took me so long to get into this book, because honestly I wasn’t a fan of the League parts. In fact, I can mark the exact page that I finally got into the book: pg. 155, when we found Chubs. And the relief I felt here was overwhelming. When he showed up at that house, all I could think was:
Can I just talk about Chubs for a minute here? Cause I have to talk about my favorite character more. My sister is reading this series too, and when discussing favorite characters she mentioned she loved Jude, and I was like, “Yeah, but I mean, Chubs.” To which she replied with something to the effect of, “Well, of course he’s your favorite character; you’re the same person!”
To which I say she is exactly right. I’m not the Ruby of the crew, the hero of the story with the most interesting abilities. I’m not Liam, the super charming and brave one. I definitely don’t have the mouth and sass for Vida, and I like to think I have a bit more level of a head than Jude. I’m not even the sweet one that everyone can’t help but love like Zu. No, I’m the pain in the neck who’s always complaining about safety and will fight anyone who stands in the way of my inner circle. I’m Chubs.
I’ve just come a realization. Well, a question. Is Chubs a Slytherin? Oh my gosh is Chubs in my house??
Anyway, so after a while we go on this quest to find Liam and my thoughts were Yes! Another road trip! I just love that aspect of this series, even though we don’t get a lot of it in this book. It’s just so much fun.
It isn’t long before we run into the fake slip kid, Knox, and this part was so frustrating to read, I was almost wishing it had been Clancy. I hate that blue kid so much…
And then we finally find Liam dying of pneumonia, and that’s when I really started panicking. See, the thing is, I don’t trust Bracken. She’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, but I don’t trust her with my favorite characters. At any moment, I feel she could kill one. It’s scary, you guys.
And then we finally get some medicine for Liam, and I dared to let myself relax for a bit…
And then Ruby gets stabbed in the back. Literally.
I’m starting to think that I will never get over the stress the rest of the book caused me. Every time one character was fine, boom another was in peril. And we also have the whole issue of Liam sort-of-but-not-really remembering Ruby. The stress. I get so frustrated at Ruby for being so gosh darn selfless. Just be with Liam and be happy.
That whole thing was interesting – that Liam loved her, but didn’t have the memories to know why. It was a wonderful plot twist, and totally fitting, looking back on it. Not to mention ripping my feels apart with all the gentle grace of a chain saw.
And through all the chaos of escaping the fake Slip Kid and eventually getting kidnapped by Rob, we finally see Ruby unlock the full (or close to full) potential of her abilities. And let me tell you guys, it was scary. I love Ruby, but sometimes her power is frightening. I mean, could you imagine if someone you knew had the ability to make you do or see anything they wanted you to? *Shudders* And the scene with Rob opens up some really good questions: Is Ruby good? What makes her different from the other Oranges? What makes you like the other Oranges? Where’s the line between using your abilities for survival and going too far? If you really think about it, the same thing happened to Clancy; he had to use his abilities to get out of being experimented on. We know that he took it too far, but when exactly did he take it too far?
Speaking of Clancy, he’s now officially my favorite villain. He’s just so despicable in the best way, and he’s so well developed. I love how he dresses all neat and preppy, I love how sassy he is, and I love how he’s not really evil. He’s just been treated so poorly, that now he thinks that’s the only way he can survive. Really, he’s not that different from a lot of the psi kids – he just decided to fight back, albeit in a totally horrifying way. I haven’t decided if I want him to die yet…I mean, on one hand he’s the main villain, but on the other hand, watching all the other characters get so infuriated by him is pure gold. And does anyone else find it hilarious that he just can’t seem to die? I mean, at the end of book 1, he disappears, only to turn up in a run down old Dairy Queen. Then he’s held captive by Ruby and the rest of the squad, only to: psych! You were imagining me! Then just when we think we finally caught him by locking him in a closet and leaving him when HQ is blown up, who pops out of the rubble? Surprise! It’s Clancy! Honestly, I don’t know why I think this is so funny, but I’m in hysterics over here…
So really I think the only other thing I wanted to talk about were the new characters we get to meet in this book, the most notable of which are Vida and Jude, our two new additions to the squad. At first I didn’t like either of them, or really anyone in the League. My only thoughts were I don’t care about these people or this place. I just want Liam and Chubs back. But after a while, I got used to them. I hated Vida at first, because she was just so unnecessarily mean and honestly kind of a brat. But by the end of the book, when we learn more about her past and see that she actually does care about people, she grew on me. As for Jude, well….
I didn’t like him. I’m sorry, I just thought that he wasn’t really necessary to the plot. He got in the way a lot, and his total lack of ability to take anything seriously just grated on my nerves. I mean, how many times did we have a plan that was about to work, and then Jude ruined it by doing or saying something stupid? So, yeah. I kind of feel bad that he’s dead, but not really….sorry….
Also, question: Are Vida and Chubs the ship direction we’re going in? Cause I don’t know how I feel about it… (No spoilers please, I’m just really trying to figure out how I feel about this. I mean, I love Chubs, but Vida is still not my favorite??? I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes).
And the last thing, that I forgot until editing this post, is Cole. Cole and Liam are so interesting, because they are so similar, it’s kind of eerie. I like how Bracken has set them up to be two sides of the same coin, like each is what the other would be like had they chosen a different path. And holy psi Cole is a Red!! This opens up so many possibilities. How many other psi adults are out there? Are there any that we know, that are undercover like Cole? And it’s so frustrating that Cole is keeping this a secret from Liam. I mean, I have an idea as to why he is. Cole tries to pretend like he doesn’t are about Liam, but we see little glimpses that show that he really does love and want to protect his brother. So I’m thinking that Cole’s reasoning is something along the lines of wanting to protect Liam from himself. I think that Cole has it in his head that he’s too dangerous, and so the only way to protect Liam from him is to distance himself. But still. It’s frustrating.
Thoughts/Questions for book 3 (In the Afterlight)
- I want to learn more about Clancy’s past. Why is he so messed up, and what’s the deal with his mother?
- What exactly is project Snowfall? We get hints and a general idea that it has something to do with Clancy’s mom, but not much else.
- There’s a cure????? I still can’t get over that killer last line. “Oh, you mean this research?” I’m still not sure about it though. A cure just seems a little too good to be true, and I thought that this series was going to go more in the direction of “having psi abilities is a good thing, and maybe we shouldn’t kill kids because of it, and instead let’s figure out how to rebuild the world with this new generation of kids”? Instead of conveniently having a way to erase all of the problems.
- We still haven’t heard from Zu!! Is she okay? What’s happening with her?
- Is Cole ever going to tell Liam that he’s a red? Please, Cole. The truth is going to come out eventually.
Well, that’s it I suppose. I’m immensely loving this series, but I’m so anxious for what’s in store in book 3. It might be a while before I get to it, because this month has seen a tidal wave of new releases, but of course as soon as I read In the Afterlight, I will review it. 😉
And as always, have a lovely day and I’ll see you all again soon!