Friday, October 18, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Never Fade

NEVER FADE
The Darkest Minds #2
Alexandra Bracken
Young Adult/Dystopian
512 pages
Disney Hyperion
Available Now
Source: Finished copy for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?


MY THOUGHTS
Never Fade is a sequel we enter into with far less dread than we might expect given the emotional conclusion to The Darkest Minds, our nerves eased a bit with the knowledge that Ruby’s most debilitating fear already came to pass and therefore can’t taunt us with its inevitability in this book. That’s not to say that Never Fade is an easy read by any means, Ms. Bracken proving again and again just how brutal and twisted this world can be, but there’s a certain warmth in our chest that comes from knowing Ruby has hit bottom (or close to it) previously, and now we get to watch as she transforms from a little girl scared of anything and everything to a young woman who fights through that fear in search of a better life for those she cares about.

Ruby has come a long way from the somewhat timid girl with a gift for being her own harshest critic–always first to refer to herself as a monster in her own mind, and first to agree with those who say it out loud–but though she still has a paralyzing fear of her abilities as an Orange, they don’t render her practically useless in a life or death situation as they have before. More than anything this second installment focuses on Ruby’s struggle to come to terms with who she is and what she can do, oh-so slowly beginning to see that the motivation and intent behind the gifts of an Orange defines what makes a monster more so than the abilities themselves. It’s a rocky road for her throughout, and she gets knocked down and beaten far more than she wins, but she always gets up and continues forward regardless of the obstacles in her path.

Though this sequel rises above middle book syndrome in a multitude of ways, sparing us familiar plot devices such as the separation of the main couple to make room for a new romantic interest, it does fail to provide any concrete information to help answer all the questions carried over from book one. Given its impressive length, we can’t help but hope somewhere in its hundreds of pages lie clues as to the why’s and how’s of the disease that killed nearly an entire generation of children (and US children only) and left the survivors with preternatural abilities. Unfortunately for us, no answers are to be had, instead we spend all of our time bouncing from one bad situation for Ruby and company to the next. While the many scuffles, narrow escapes, and all-out fights show us how she’s growing little by little into someone we’re one hundred percent rooting for, it feels as though this story could have been streamlined in some parts to keep our attention razor sharp the whole way through.

Just when we start to find our attention wandering though, wondering if and when all our unanswered questions will be addressed, the side characters grab hold of our faces and wrench our gazes back to them, delighting us with well-timed humor and an abundance of attitude. Ruby is a strong heroine– one who seems as though she will only continue to get stronger–but Chubs, Vida and Jude steal the show in Never Fade, their sass, charm, and exuberance bringing a welcome smile to our faces. Based on the concluding events of this story, it appears as though the focus of the next book will shift to exactly where we want it, and I will most certainly be picking it up in a desperately greedy search for all my much-needed answers.

Rating: 3.5-4/5
 
(I'm splitting the rating because I would give the characters a solid 4 or higher, but I wanted a few more answers with regard to the plot, which ended up somewhere around a 3.5)

Find Alexandra:




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GIVEAWAY


Thanks to the wonderful people at Disney Book Group, I have a very cool giveaway to share with you all today. One lucky winner will receive a custom Never Fade t-shirt as well as a copy of the book. Woo hoo! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

52 comments:

  1. This really sounds good. I will have to catch up.

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    1. I quite enjoy this series Victoria!

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  2. I haven't read the first book in this series yet because of the rumored cliffhangers, but I'm glad that this novel is a decent sequel, despite a few flaws. I loved Bracken's debut, so I can't wait to finally read these books! Wonderful review, Jenny!(:

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    1. I didn't think the cliffhanger was too terrible in the first book, but then again I did already have the second book on hand which took some of the sting out of it:)

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  3. I still haven't read the first book yet but it's already on my TBR list. Like Keertana^ I was worried about the rumored cliffhangers. Guess I won't be reading the series soon then because this seems to have more of it?

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    1. I don't really consider the ends of either book to be cliffhangers per se, things are just left unresolved. I wasn't tearing my hair out or anything, so I think you're safe to give them a try!

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  4. I read her novel Brightly Woven and thought it was pretty decent considering how young she was when she wrote it. I still haven't checked out this series, but I will have to add it to my TBR list. I like that you feel the characters are strong in this story, but your score for plot has me a bit worried. Thanks for the great giveaway and Happy Friday!

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    1. It's just that at 500+ pages, I wanted a bit more information you know? She's created this very dark world that spawns infinite numbers of questions, but we get no answers. I know they're likely coming in the next book, but I would have liked a few in this one:) The characters made the story though, I love every single one of them.

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  5. It's almost impressive how controlled that disease was, sticking just to US kids. I definitely want to know how that happened. Highly enjoyed the first in this series and looking forward to the second, though I'll probably be a bit frustrated with the missing answers!

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    1. I really want to know how that happened to Mary! I'd hoped we'd get some insight in this one but that was not the case. Still, I really enjoyed it overall:)

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  6. I'm super excited to read this book! I think Chayse read it already and I'm jealous. Nice review Jenny and thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it soon Savy!

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  7. This series really hasn't managed to grab my interest maybe I'm still trying to figure out all the "why?" questions in the story. Sorry you didn't get many answers that you hoped for, but still ended up enjoying the book. Have a great weekend, Jenny!

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    1. I'm hoping I get bombarded with answers in the next book Rummanah. Then I can just revel in them:)

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  8. I scrolled down to your rating and saw that you mentioned that you received almost no answers to your questions regarding the world building and I was going to mention something about how huge this book is and yet you didn't get any answers when I read your review "Given its impressive length, we can’t help but hope somewhere in its hundreds of pages lie clues as to the why’s and how’s of the disease that killed nearly an entire generation of children (and US children only) and left the survivors with preternatural abilities."
    It's such a shame that you don't get many answers. I hate when that happens and recently, it happened with Resist by Sarah Crossan for me.
    I have this book for review and I should be reading it soon. At least the characters were well-written.
    Lovely honest review, Jenny!

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    1. I loved the characters, they were the highlight of the book for me Nick! I just think this book could have been shorter if we weren't going to get any answers, I didn't necessarily need all the battles Ruby had to fight if they didn't get me any closer to figuring out how this disease happened. Maybe she'll tie that all together in the next one though!

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  9. Aw.. I'm sad to hear that sequel wasn't as good as the first book. Everyone seemed to have loved the Darkest Minds and while I haven't read it yet myself, I was eagerly awaiting the time when I'll have the time to pick it up. I'm not so sure anymore. I mean, I still love the premise and the sound of the story, and I love creepy tales for sure, but knowing that the second book isn't as intense as one would expect kind of puts me off. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jenny!

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    1. I'm that reader that can only be put off for so long when a story has unanswered questions. I can deal with being teased and taunted for a bit, but this was almost too much, I needed her to toss me a few crumbs to tide me over until book 3. That didn't happen, but there was a great deal of character growth which I thoroughly enjoyed:)

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  10. Mmm. Lack of answers in the second book? Never a good sign for me... I'll have to wait and see if you think book 3 answers those questions.

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    1. I will be devouring book 3 as soon as it comes out Amanda! I shall report back:)

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  11. Smilefull review! I love it when stories have wonderful and humorous side characters. Or anything that provides laughter. I definitely want to read this series and hopefully the next one explores the plague.

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    1. This is definitely the type of book that needs a little humor because the world is brutal, and she balanced the light and dark perfectly I thought!

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  12. I love this series, and my review posts next week. While I think this avoided the dreaded second book syndrome..I still wanted more world-building and character development. Maybe because the author set the bar so high, or at least my expectations. I rated this a 3.5 as well, and cannot wait for the final book.

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    1. Agreed. I needed a few of my why questions answered with regard to the disease and why it's localized in the US only. Still, I was never bored while reading and I'm definitely looking forward to book 3!

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  13. I am one of the few people who has yet to read this series, lol. It sounds like a great sequel, especially with how Ruby develops. Amazing review :)

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    1. I very much enjoy Ruby Montana! I don't envy her her abilities in the least:)

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  14. It sounds good although I am saddened by the lack of answers here. I'm always a fan of the supporting characters though so I've got high hopes there. I'm meeting Alexandra Bracken at YALL Fest next month so I hope to find time to read this book before then.

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    1. Yay! I wish I could go to YALL Fest, I'm sure you'll have a blast:) I'll be interested to see what you think of this one Kym!

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  15. That's disappointing that you weren't given many of the answers that you had been waiting for from the first book. But I'm glad that despite this this Bracken still managed to deliver a book that went above and beyond a middle syndrome book. I think the characters sound fantastic in this book, so I'm so glad that they left you wanting more! Wonderful review Jenny! )

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    1. It was disappointing for sure, but the characters made it hard to worry about that too much. I just loved them:) I'm trying to be patient with the wait for book 3, but it's going to be hard!

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  16. Answers *shakes fist* ! I have read a few books like that lately where I wanted more answers but didn't get them. Characters are where the story is though so I completely get the split rating :)

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    1. I had to split it, I loved the characters too much to give an overall rating of 3.5. They deserved more even if the lack of answers was frustrating.

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  17. Oh no! No answers and a bouncing plot line? Yikes! Sorry this one wasn't better Jenny. Makes me nervous to start the series now.

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    1. I still really enjoyed this one Ali! I'm just the type of person that can only keep their curiosity at bay for so long, and this premise just begs to be picked apart and questioned, so I get antsy when I'm denied details:)

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  18. I am most curious about this series. I think it sounds unique and exciting. I am happy to hear that it seems to avoid the middle book syndrome, but disappointed that there isn't as much information. I am all about wanting to know, still I am planning on checking this out!

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  19. I hate it when they do that to the plot. I want answers! It's like they just go to the easy tropes rather than give us a good story. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed the characters so much. That has saved many a book for me. :) Yep, I do think I'll have to read these, but I'm waiting for the other book to see if those answers come to light.

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  20. Why did only US kids perish? Weird

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  21. I haven't read the first book, and have to admit that I've been a little afraid to. If I read this series I might wait for the next one to be out cause I'm tired of waiting and then forgetting everything. This might be a series I'd enjoy though, I'm just not sure...

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  22. Ooo... this looks great! I think I would enjoy this book very much!

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  23. I still haven't read the first book but I have heard great things about it and I really want to meet this world. But then again I think I'll wait until the whole series is out - as the lack of answers can really annoy. And of course more waiting to get them. I love the sound of characters here though. Great review Jenny :)

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  24. LOVED the characters and the world!! The plot was perfect - I'm interested to see what happens to all of them and if Ruby can get him back:)

    Lovely review and trailer!! :)

    Thank you:)

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  25. Brutal is right...I was a mess at the end of the first book!! Can't wait to delve into this one! And I can deal with some lingering plot questions as long as the characters are strong!

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  26. It's a shame that you don't really get the answers you need, but I'm glad that this book doesn't truly fall victim to second book syndrome. I've been hearing a lot of good things about it recently. I still need to pick up the first one though! Great review as always, Jenny. :)

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  27. The first book was amazing, I can't wait to read this one! The trailer looks epic!!

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  28. The trailer makes me want to start the series today!!!!

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  29. I can't wait to start on this series. It sounds good!

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  30. Interesting sounding series

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  31. This looks interesting. I want to start the series.

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  32. Sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway!!

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  33. I loved her Brightly Woven and been looking forward to this series. So far the first book was awesome! Excited for this!

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  34. Aww Chubs! I loved him so much in the first book! I keep hearing that people had trouble staying focused on this one, and it worries me that you think it could have been streamlined, but I'm glad to hear the characters brought you back into the story. I'm sure I'll be craving answers and clarification on the world as much as you, but it's nice to know the characters are as strong as they were in book one. Lovely review!

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  35. I must read this series. Love the review.

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