The Darkest Minds

I categorize my books in terms of food. Salad books = classics, and deep thinking books. Meat and Potatoes = a good mystery, drama, or contemporary novel. Junk Food = vampires, romance, or YA dystopian. I love a good dystopian novel. The Darkest Minds is a decent dystopian novel. (Disclaimer, I've only read Book #1.) Having seen the trailers for the movie before reading the book, it was pretty easy to imagine, while reading, sweet Rue from The Hunger Games being reincarnated into another dystopian world to become Ruby of The Darkest Minds.

In this world, a strange virus is killing of the majority of the children ... or giving them super powers. Realizing they can't do anything to save those who are dying, the government focuses on how to handle new kids with powers. The solution, of course, is to round them up into concentration camp style work camps, and categorize them based on their ability. Each is given a color based on their ability, and separated. Realizing early on that being an orange or red is bad, Ruby, age 10, convinced the doctor accessing her that she is a green, thereby proving she is an orange with the ability of mind control.

While the world outside the camp walls isn't well developed in the novel, author Alexandra Bracken focuses heavily on the world Ruby lives in, including the conditions in the camp, and her increasing fear of both being found out, and her fear of creating meaningful relationships and her further trauma as she destroys those relationships. Ruby strives for anonymity. Everything changes when a new method for finding hidden reds and oranges is created, and at the age of 16, Ruby is outed as an orange, and quickly rescued by the Children's League. The novel follows her escape from them, after a scare, and her connection with three other children with powers, and her budding romance with Liam, a soft-spoken blue who has telekinesis.

Some of the things that make this novel stand out from other similar female driven dystopian dramas, is Ruby's slow realization that she can't survive on her own and needs people, a team, or a family. Also, she isn't a strong, domineering female, but is instead scared of herself and her abilities.

Anyone who has read the book, and seen the movie trailer knows automatically the movie creators had taken some liberties. However, those who worked on Stranger Things, a great show, had worked on The Darkest Minds, so it can't be too bad. Before seeing the movie, some clear discrepancies between the book and the movie were the kid's eyes flashing their appointed color when using their powers, and a strange stadium scene.

Sadly, the movie deviated even further from the book. The scene building done by Alexandra Bracken to help connect the reader to the characters was quickly skimmed over, making the scene with the doctor unrecognizable, the boot factory scene out of place, and the rescue even too abrupt. Ruby is quickly with her team of four, the aforementioned Liam; Chubs, a green with super smarts; and Zu, a yellow with power over electricity. Liam, Chubs and Zu stayed relatively true to their book counterparts, with Chubs perhaps a bit more sassy and enduring.

Ruby, on the other hand, while saying she is scared of her powers, and avoids discussing them, embraces them more quickly and more often than in the novel. The creators also seemed to want her to be more Katniss/Tris like, giving her more leadership opportunities. Her character development didn't stay true to the book, and once again, felt rushed. Oh, and about the eye glowing thing, apparently that is for the benefit of the movie-goer as no-one in the movie seemed to notice when someone else's eyes were glowing.

While I won't give away how that stadium scene played out, after you watch the movie, comment below and let me know if you thought it played out more as a "future leader" moment or "initiation ceremony" moment.

If I hadn't read the book, I probably would have thought the movie ok, but somewhat unremarkable. In this case, the book is much better than the movie.