The Darkest Minds #2
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?
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.
(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)
• • • • • • • • • •
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