Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Official Synopsis:

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She'd never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he's sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he's not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them-and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need to most.

Review: Four out of Five Stars

I am a big fan of Lauren Oliver. I read and loved Before I Fall and the Delirium series (except for the end of Requiem,
but that's a tale for another time). So I went into this with extremely high expectations.

I think the description of this book is very misleading. It would have you believe that it is an action packed thriller about a high stakes game. It's really more of a story about the characters and why they choose to play the game and its consequences. There are a couple of scenes that are suspenseful, but overall Panic did not make me panic.

World and Plot: Panic takes place in a small town of about 12,000 people (12,000? Lol get on my level, Lauren.) in New York. Every day throughout the school year they make every kid donate one dollar to the pot for Panic (Every. Single. Day. For four years! And I thought my small town high school sucked). Then during the summer all graduating seniors have the opportunity to play for the money. Other than that it's your basic small town where everyone knows everyone and there's lots of drama.

The story follows one summer of Panic from the dual perspective of Heather Nill and Dodge Mason who are both participants. Throughout the game their courage, friendships, families, and lives are put on the line. The pot is 67,000 this year, enough money to change your life forever.

Reoccurring Themes: Friendship, Family, Revenge, Bravery, Risk, Trust, Hope

Reaction: I liked Panic. I liked it a lot. Is it one of my favorites? Nah. Maybe it's because I was expecting more excitement. Maybe it's because it's because Lauren Oliver was the author. This book just wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be.

The book starts off interesting with Heather joining Panic after being dumped by her jerk of a boyfriend. Her best friend Natalie is startled and angry when Heather decides to enter. Nat is also playing Panic.

We are then introduced to our other narrator Dodge. Dodge doesn't really have friends. He and Heather are sort of friends but not really. Dodge isn't playing Panic for the money or for himself, he's playing for REVENGE!

The first challenge is pretty simple. One must jump off a high cliff into the water below and announce themselves as a player. This is a celebrated event and all of the young people in Carp come to watch.

The next challenge is where things start to get dangerous. The players have to walk across a plank between two water towers and are timed. This was a stressful section, but Heather pulled through and made it. The cops showed up and scattered everyone before the challenge could be completed.

While running away Natalie sprains her ankle and Heather and Dodge help her limp away. Thus Nat is eternally grateful to Dodge and so begins their courtship.

While waiting for the cops to leave Nat and Heather have a best friend moment and decide if they win they'll split the money. Warning bells went off in my head at this point. Nat is not a trustworthy girl.

The reveal of why Dodge wants revenge comes next when we see his sister Dayna. Dayna played Panic two years ago and lost the ability to use her legs in the final round. The cause of this injury was Luke Hanrahan, whose brother Ray is playing this year. Dodge figures a sibling for a sibling will make them even. At which point I realized Dodge is a tiny bit crazy.

Nat shows up and offers Dodge a deal where they split the money if they win (I was so right about her). Then she flirts with him and leads him on. 

After the water tower challenge Heather loses her job at Walmart after sleeping in and missing a shift. We are exposed to her life of living in Fresh Pines trailer park with her younger sister, her mother, and her stepfather. The parents (if we have to call them that) are frequent drug and alcohol users who don't take care of Heather or Lily, who's only twelve.

Heather luckily scores a job with a woman named Anne. Anne owns a barn out in the country and hires Heather to help out. Her other best friend Bishop gives her a ride there and we instantly get the feeling this is more than just friendship.

Anne is a sweet lady. There's just one little odd thing that separates her into cuckoo territory. She has...tigers. Real live actual tigers. In a fence (AS IF THAT COULD STOP THEM) in her backyard. This is the one detail of the book that I do not accept. It is utterly ridiculous. Like nobody would notice you were keeping tigers in a town that small. The grapevine is real people. It is real, it is short, and it is fast. The second you brought those tigers into town everyone and their grandma would know about it.

Alas, sometimes we must accept tigers in our books and move on with the story. 

The next challenge is to sneak into Trigger-Happy Jack the drunk's house and steal something. The man shoots at intruders and sends his watch dogs after them. Piece of cake. Dodge, Heather, and Nat work as a team through this challenge. Nat is kind of useless (what else is new?) because of her ankle and Heather and Dodge do most of the work to get what they need.

After this challenge the cops start threatening to shut Panic down but nobody thinks they can. If anyone tattles you can be assured people will find out it was you and they will make you regret it.

Our group of four spend some time together. We learn Nat wants to use the money to move to LA to be a model and is willing to go through sleezy guys to get there. Dodge and Nat also become an official sort of something.

The next challenge is to stay overnight in the haunted Graybill house. Our team of Heather, Nat, and Dodge stake out a room of their own in a dingy closet. This is fine until somebody sets the house on fire and they're trapped inside. Nat is able to get out through the window but Heather and Dodge won't fit. They almost die from the smoke but are rescued just in time.

Heather wakes up in the hospital to Bishop and Nat at her bedside. They inform her that the homeless guy in their town had been hiding out in the house that night and died in the fire. The police are now trying to shut down Panic and question everyone. The secret judges are ready to call it off.

Dodge isn't having this because then he won't get his revenge. He gets his enemy Ray to help him keep the game going by putting one of the players through a solo challenge by kidnapping him.

Heather decides to quit the game because it's too dangerous and feels guilty about the murder. But then she comes home to her sister sitting outside in the rain. Her mother made her stay outside while her and her friends did cocaine. Heather grabs all her stuff and takes her sister with her and decides to live in her mom's car. She now needs the money from Panic more than ever. Poor girl. Makes your heart ache a little.

The next challenge actually was terrifying. The few players remaining had to cross the highway blindfolded, judging whether to go based on if they could hear cars. It was an action packed sequence I enjoyed. Our two leads make it through, but Nat is cut.

Next is Nat's birthday party. Nat is drunk and angry at everyone. Dodge tries to give her a present and she tells him she's using him and seeing someone else. They get in a big fight and Dodge leaves. Also at the party Heather kisses Bishop in a spur of the moment thing but he pushes her away. He says he needs to explain but Heather isn't having it and runs off. She finds Nat obsessively washing her hands in the bathroom, revealing her OCD. This made me a bit more sympathetic to her character...but I still don't like her.

One of the players still in the game attacks the announcer and tries to get him to reveal the names of the elusive (not really, it's pretty dang obvious who they are) judges. This gets him disqualified and Nat back in. (Convenient, ay?)

Heather has to return to Bishop's house where she left her phone and catches him hanging out with another girl. In a jealous rage she grabs her phone and storms out. The angst is real.

Dodge suddenly gets a text telling him to meet his family at the hospital. He rushes over only to find that Dayna was able to move her toes. Dodge gets angry and says he thought something actually happened, hurting Dayna and his mom. They go out to celebrate, but Dodge isn't in the mood. He's mad Dayna doesn't want him to play Panic anymore and also storms off. Two angsty narrators, so little time.

This is when my dislike for Dodge became cemented. Your sister that you call your best friend hasn't been able to move her legs at all for two years. She finally has a breakthrough and is ecstatic about it. And you respond that it basically isn't a big deal. What a jackass. All he cares about is revenge and he's a jerk. Screw you, Dodge.

Heather and Lily finally get caught with the car they stole from her mom and decide to stay with Anne. She welcomes them with open arms. Their mother tries to get them to come home but they refuse.

Dodge figures out who the judges are (not a brilliant deduction man. All the signs were there.). He then threatens to reveal their identity if they don't let him skip the solo challenge.

Heather then has to do her solo challenge. When she was younger, her real father shot himself. It gave her a fear of guns. So for her challenge she has to play Russian Roulette with a loaded gun once and hope she doesn't get the one with the bullet. Dodge removes the bullet though while no one is looking at request of the judge. Heather goes through with it without knowing this and makes it to the finals.

Nat then gets her solo challenge. She has to stand in the tiger pit at Anne's for ten seconds. She can't make it though (who could? REAL LIVE TIGERS. Still ridiculous.) and is disqualified. Again. 

After the challenge Heather forgets to lock the tigers' gate though and they escape. (YOU HAD ONE JOB, HEATHER. ONE JOB.) She frantically searches for them, but they're gone. The judges identity is then revealed to her because they want to take the blame for it. Unfortunately the person who finds the first tiger does the sensible thing and shoots it because TIGERS ARE DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS NOT PETS.

Anne is pretty ticked off when she discovers this, but understands it was an accident. She lets Heather and Lily keep staying with her.

Next it is time for the grand finale: JOUST. Two cars playing chicken. Three players left: Dodge, Heather, and Dodge's target Ray. Totally made me think of this the whole time...

There are two rounds. First is Heather vs Ray. Then the winner goes up against Dodge. I won't spoil who wins, but this is the hands down best and most panicky part of the book. The climax is pretty awesome except the slightly odd thing at the end.

The epilogue was a little bleak and fluffy for my tastes. It wrapped things up, but it wasn't what I was looking for. At least there was an ending (*cough* Requiem *cough*)

Overall this was just

I liked it! I did! It just wasn't the bam wow pop I was expecting. Maybe it's because I didn't actually particularly like any of the characters. Heather was oblivious too much and a bit of a downer. Dodge was a crazy jerk who only cared about revenge or Nat. I've already expressed my dislike for Nat. Bishop didn't know how to spit things out. I didn't really connect with anyone. I wanted Heather to win Panic to turn her life around, but she was really hard to put up with sometimes.

Would I recommend this? Yeah, it's a nice quick standalone novel. If you're looking for something with a little more meat I'd avoid this one. It has it's high points. Lauren Oliver really knows how to turn a phrase. The writing is awesome, the characters and plot...less awesome. Also as I've mentioned the "mystery" parts of it were terribly obvious and over foreshadowed in my opinion.

Not every book can be a winner.

And remember: tigers are not pets.


“No one should be allowed to be happy when you were so miserable – especially not your best friends. It should be a law.”

“This was what true fear was--that you could never know other people, not completely. That you were always just guessing blind.” 

“But maybe you carried your demons with you everywhere, the way you carried your shadow.”

Side Note: Yes, it has been a couple weeks since I posted. This is because...I started watching Sherlock. Yes, the British TV version that everyone else is obsessed with. IT IS WORTHY OF OBSESSION. It's on Netflix bro. I suggest you binge watch it ASAP.

But I'm back from hiatus now and ready to start reading up a storm y'all!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die Series Book One)

Official Synopsis

"I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when our whole life gets swept up by a tornado-taking you with it-you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road-but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm-and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission."

Review: Three and a Half out of Five Stars

I went into this with really high expectations. Probably because I usually love Wizard of Oz spinoffs so much...

This book got so much hype from Epic Reads that I was sure it was going to be good. The summary and book made it look super exciting too. Then I got the actual book.

I liked it. It wasn't bad, but I'm not going to go tell people to read it. It's a rather lackluster first book in a series. 

World and Plot: Dorothy Must Die takes place in an AU of Oz where Dorothy has been made princess and her three friends are all ruling members as well. Dorothy and Glinda have been sucking the magic out of Oz for themselves, the Scarecrow sucks out people's brains to inject them into his own, the Tin Woodman (who is no longer just the Tin Man, I guess) is a bloodthirsty leader of the guards, and the Lion literally drinks people's fear. 

Nobody is happy. Woe is Oz. There are those who wish to rebel and those who wish to just get by and go with the flow. Orphans and broken families are everywhere. But nothing is changing until our girl wonder shows up.

Reoccurring Themes: Morality, Trust, Rebellion, Sorrow, Power

Reaction: Sigh. I hate when I get really excited for a book and then 

I feel like this was more of a good idea, bad execution kind of thing. It made the book sound super interesting. The actual story? Meh.

Amy Gumm is introduced as a bullied teenager who lives in a trailer park in Kansas. She proceeds to talk about how much her life sucks. She talks about it so much. There's a lot of telling, not showing. I like my heroes to complain only a certain amount. She crosses the threshold.

A tornado sweeps up her doublewide into the sky and whisks her away to Oz. We land on the edge of a cliff and are saved by the mysterious Pete. He says a bunch of vague things and leaves. Amy stumbles around with her pet rat and meets Indigo. Indigo (the infodumper) lets us know how much Oz sucks. 

Next Amy and Indigo decide to join forces to find the Emerald City. They follow the yellow brick road while avoiding everyone. They come across a wingless monkey that tried to escape enslavement by cutting off his wings. Amy rescues him. This gets the group caught by the evil Tin Woodman (just typing it is awkward. HIS NAME IS THE TIN MAN) and his henchmen. The monkey escapes, Indigo dies, and Amy is taken prisoner. Indigo's death was not all that upsetting. Mostly because she had about a page of character development then was turned into goo.

Dorothy is furious about Amy being from Kansas and orders her to be killed. Before her trial Amy is rescued by a witch named Mombi. Mombi is the leader of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, or just the Order for short (HMMMMMMM. I feel as though I've heard of something called the Order before. *cough* Phoenix *cough*).

Amy now has to join the order because when Mombi rescued her she bound her with a spell. The other members of the order include Gert, a wise yet sketchy old lady, Glamora, Glinda's twin (yup, never heard of her either), and Nox, the love interest.

Amy goes through a training montage where she learns magic from Gert, how to fight from Nox, and how to be a lady from Glamora. This is all so she can infiltrate the palace and kill Dorothy. The Order doesn't really trust her fully, so they never tell her their plans. This is a reoccurring theme from everyone in the book.

Amy and Nox have a hate but really poorly disguised romantic relationship. It was alright, but nothing over the top wow. 

The Order decides to try and kill the Lion when he gets too close to their hideout but Gert gets killed instead. This kicks the plan into motion and Amy is stuck inside the body of one of Dorothy's handmaids, Astrid.

Amy as Astrid gets to watch Dorothy be awful to people, hang out with her rat, and talk to Pete once in a while. This goes on for only a little while before Amy runs into the monkey she rescued earlier. She decides saving this monkey's sister is more important than her cover. 

After the rescue the palace is looking for the betrayer and the head maid takes the blame because she was working for the Order. At the ball the next day the Order puts magic wards around the castle and has Amy attempt to murder Dorothy. Before she can the Tin Woodman intercedes and attacks. Amy pushes Dorothy and herself off the tower window in an attempted murder/suicide.

Dorothy gets her magic shoes to save her though. Amy gets saved by her monkey friends. They bring her to the Wizard. He tells Amy that in order to kill Dorothy she must get the Tin Woodman's heart, the Scarecrow's brain, and the Lion's courage. Also it turns out Pete is actually Ozma, the true ruler of Oz.


Amy does a lot of moral debate in her head that gets old. She is conflicted over whether killing Dorothy is the right thing. She is conflicted about trusting anyone. Everyone also tells her not to trust anyone. It gets to be a bit irritating.

I'll probably pick up the next one just to see where the series goes from here. It wasn't my cup of tea. I struggled to like Amy a lot of the time, or anyone really.

It's hard to talk about what's wrong with it without trashing it. It did have it's good moments. They were just few and far between. I never got a sense of direction of where the book was going. Everything was just jumbled together jumping from one thing to the next.

No quotes jumped out at me either, so sorry...

Would I recommend it? No, not really. Mostly because I've got so many other books I think are way better.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Divergent Movie Review

Divergent: The Movie

So I (FINALLY) went to see the Divergent movie two weekends ago! I read the book a couple summers ago and I absolutely loved it. The entire series is one of my favorites. So I was a little nervous when they decided to turn it into a movie. I've been wronged by the YA movie industry before (looking at you PERCY JACKSON). I've had movies I love totally flop (staring at you THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS). But then again I have book to movie adaptations I love (lovingly gazing at you HARRY POTTER, LORD OF THE RINGS, THE HUNGER GAMES). It's a game of chance we play, us YA movie people.

I wasn't sure how to feel about the casting. I love Shailene Woodley...but she's so nice. Tris, as much as I love her, is not nice. Tris is strong, brave, and brilliant. But overall she's kind of a jerk. So I was slightly worried about Shailene. Theo James had me from the start. He's gorgeous and intimidating, like Four. I love Miles Teller and he seemed like a perfect Peter (Tris's nemesis). The weirdest casting for me was Ansel Elgort as Caleb (Tris's brother) because he's also playing Augustus (from TFIOS, which if you haven't read get out of the hole you're living in and go pick it up and a box of tissues) . The whole time I watched the movie I was expecting him to start making out with Tris.

I went into the movie with high expectations though because everyone I knew who had already seen it was pretty hunky dory about it. And....IT WAS AWESOME! They did a beautiful job. And the movie is actually doing good so SEQUELS. I LOVED IT.

The movie opens with a voiceover of Tris explaining the faction systems with the five groups each representing a different virtue they think is most important. Abnegation-selflessness, Candor-honesty, Amity-peace, Erudite-knowledge, and Dauntless-courage. I also learned I've been saying Erudite wrong my whole life. We get the world building done right away, which was nice. It was informational, but didn't feel like info-dump.

Next we have Aptitude testing. The scene where the Dauntless come in on the train for the tests had me like:

Except I was sitting down so it was a lot more subdued. But internally, this is how I was. It was so cool and Dauntless.

The Aptitude test wasn't exactly how I pictured it because of how it had so many mirror images, which got to be a little confusing. It still looked awesome and everything, but I would have liked it better if they hadn't done that. It was also shorter and less scary than I imagined it. Tori telling her she was Divergent was totally creepy and bone-chilling how I wanted it to be though!

Then Tris goes home and spends time with her family. Her family in the movie is a lot more affectionate than her book family. I understood why they did that though because otherwise we wouldn't have connected to them at all because we don't get to hear Tris talk about them. The scene where they're eating in the dark really got me because I never thought about how they probably wouldn't use electricity unless they needed to. (Warning: to be Abnegation you must not be afraid of the dark.)

The conversation with Jeanine before the Choosing ceremony was a good thing they added in. Kate Winslet is a fantastic Jeanine. She plays the cold, cool villain so well. She's almost in the movie too much though. Sometimes when they added her in I liked it, and sometimes I did not.

The Choosing ceremony was a highlight and suspenseful. I knew what was going to happen and I was still like PICK DAUNTLESS! PICK DAUNTLESS TRIS! She did choose Dauntless obviously. Then things really got going. She takes off out of there with the rest of the Dauntless and climbs up the support beam to the train tracks where they then have to jump onto a moving train. NBD.

We get the scene where SHE HAS TO JUMP OFF A MOVING TRAIN ONTO A BUILDING OVER A HUGE GAP. Man, it's sweet. Then Tris volunteers to be the first jumper and jumps off the high building into a hole in the ground. This was killing me because like Four heights terrify me.

She lands in the net and then we are introduced to Four.

This kicks off initiation! We meet Will, Christina, and Al. We have less time to get to know them, which is sad. I did like how they were all portrayed. Christina and Tris's friendship was a lot more solid and had less fighting. The Dauntless compound is pretty much exactly how I pictured it being all dark and chilling. (Warning: to be Dauntless you must also not be afraid of the dark.)

The first stage of initiation: beating the crap out of each other. Tris being a slight girl from Abnegation doesn't do so well. But through a badass training montage we see her slowly improving with the help of her friends and her good looking instructor.

We meet up with Tori again while getting tattoos to hear her explain that if people find out Tris is Divergent they WILL kill her. Tris is naturally a little freaked out by this.

Scenes in first stage initiation I loved and felt very true to the book: Christina dangling from the chasm, the first meal where Tris tells Four he's approachable (laughed out loud at this one), the knife-throwing scene (ultra ultra awesome).

They changed the war games. Instead of paintball it was an actual gunshot simulation serum. This made it ten times cooler. This was definitely a highlight of the movie for me. The ferris wheel part was cut short but I didn't mind. The action packed fight more than made up for it. These changes made me like it more than I did in the book.

Next was the zip-line scene............

BECAUSE IF YOU KNOW THAN YOU KNOW. But yeah it looked cool. I wish Uriah could have been in this movie. He better be introduced well in Insurgent.

Then Tris makes the cut to stage two: fear landscapes. You are injected with a serum that makes you live through your worst fears without realizing they aren't real. You experience things such as being pecked to death by crows, being trapped in a glass box slowly filling with water, and other happy things like that.

They were incredible and scary, as they should be. Tris can get through them easily because she's Divergent and simulations don't work on her like everyone else. She quickly moves up through the ranks while trying to keep her secret.

Due to jealousy three of the other initiates attack Tris one night while she's alone and almost toss her into the chasm. Luckily Four shows up and takes care of them. The romance is then developed and played out. I liked how they did everything. The best part was the tattoo scene of course.

Four takes Tris through his fear landscape to teach her how to do it like a Dauntless rather than a Divergent. I really liked this change! It made so much more sense. This whole sequence was awesome and we find out Four is called Four because he has only four fears. His real name is Tobias (unfortunate dude) and he transferred to escape his abusive father in Abnegation.

We get to the final day of initiation with the final fear landscape. Tris makes it through and the celebration is supposed to begin. Then the leader announces everyone needs to get a tracker before it can. Once everyone does all of the Dauntless freeze. The tracker is a serum that lets them be controlled by someone else. Tris because of her divergence, is not affected by it.

Everyone else though grabs a gun and boards the train. She finds Four and is relieved to find he isn't affected either. The train stops at Abnegation where the under control Dauntless start rounding up the government officials and killing them. Tris wants to find her family and protect them.

Before she can her and Four are caught by Dauntless leaders. Jeanine orders them to take Four with them and kill Tris. Tris is saved narrowly by her mother. They make a get away, but Tris has to end up shooting her friend Will (hello future angst). On the way to the safe house where her father is her mother jumps in front of her and gets shot. She then dies in a heartbreaking scene.

Tris has to keep going and meets up with her father, Caleb, and Tobias' father at the safe house. Tris delivers my favorite line of the movie after Peter says she won't shoot him. Tris gets them to go with her to the Dauntless compound to try and end the simulation. To make it to the computer room they have to get through the Dauntless guards and her father ends up getting shot (back to back parent death!). Tris keeps going though and enters the control room to find Four being controlled too and Jeanine instructing him to kill her.

This was also a highlight with Tris fighting to get Four to recognize her. When he eventually does and proceeds to beat everyone else in the control room it's awesome. Jeanine tries to keep the program running but Tris THROWS A KNIFE TO TRAP HER HAND ON THE COMPUTER SCREEN. It was so cool. She gets Jeanine to undo the simulation and escapes with Four, Caleb, and Four's father on a train. They take off into the distance as Tris gives another voiceover about how the future is uncertain with all the enemies they've made today. Roll credits.

Overall: 4.5/5 Stars

The movie rocked and I think nonbook lovers would enjoy it as well. It was no Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the movie by which all other book-to-movie-adaptations should be judged). The pacing was good because they didn't rush anything, but the movie is LONG. Tris was still almost too nice for me. Jeanine was in the movie too much for me. It was very true to the book. It just didn't have the extra something for me to give it a five. I highly recommend that people go see it though. It is a cinematic experience worth having.

The soundtrack is pretty cool as well. Even though half of it is Ellie Goulding.

"We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that that drives one person to stand up for another."

"Fear doesn't shut you down, it wakes you up."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Book One of The Darkest Minds series)

Official Synopsis:

"When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America's children, but she and the other emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her- East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living."

Review: Five out of Five Stars

First off, this is my new favorite book/series. I loved it. It is unique and incredibly well written. I could gush about how awesome it is for days. But I will keep my gushing to a minimum.

World and Plot: The Darkest Minds takes place in a future America where almost all of the children have died from Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. Sounds creepy, right? It is. Kids drop dead without any warning.

This is very disturbing, but then the kids who survive the disease start developing strange abilities. The government begins labeling these children as Psi. There are five different types of Psi: Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, and Green. Greens are the least dangerous with high intelligence and photographic memories. Blues are telekinetic and can move objects with their minds. Yellows can create electricity and use this to blow things up. Reds have the power to create and control fire. But without a doubt the most dangerous type of Psi is an Orange, they have the ability to control other people's minds. They can make you do, think, or remember whatever they want you too. Naturally, people aren't a big fan of them.

Our main character Ruby spends six years at a "rehabilitation" *cough* concentration *cough* camp in West Virginia. After she is broken out she has no idea what to do or who to trust. While getting away from the people who helped her escape she meets three other Psi kids who escaped their camp. After some rough spots at first they agree to work together to find East River, a safe heaven for Psi on the run.

Reoccurring Themes: Fear, oppression, family, friendship, love, freedom, control, and trust.

Reaction: I was hooked right from the beginning with this book. The world building is done really well. I was horrified and creeped out by Thurmond. This book was also a lot darker than I expected it to be. It doesn't skim over the gory details or grief. I felt so bad for all of those kids. I just want to give Ruby a big hug. Then after she breaks out it gets even better.

Like Ruby you're really not sure who you can trust. There's so many groups trying to control everything. The people who broke her out are sketchy and so is the government. Then when Ruby meets up with Liam, Chubs, and Zu things really get going.

The relationships between the characters grew normally and weren't forced. The friendships felt real. Liam is the nicest guy I've ever read about. You can't not love him. Chubs is a great guy when you get used to him. And Zu is so sweet and adorable. The romance was great because they actually took their time to fall in love. Liam Stewart though...#swoon.

Ruby is also a very realistic narrator. She's good at reading people and situations. Even though she's been through a lot of tough stuff she keeps going. It's one of my favorite things about her. She has a lot of trust issues after what happened to her parents and her time in Thurmond. But she always tries to keep everyone else safe.

There is a lot of action and the book never really drags. It's a roller coaster from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down (except to go to class which was a huge bummer). I've read a lot of dystopians and this one is my favorite. I highly recommend it.

Although the ending did make me feel like this:

But my overall feelings for it can be summed up by these:


"The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces." #titledrop

"Let's carpe the hell out of this diem."

"Don't be scared," she whispered. "Don't let them see."

"Dreaming led to disappointment, and disappointment to a kind of depressed funk that wasn’t easy to shake. Better to stay in the gray than get eaten by the dark."

"Maybe nothing will ever change for us, but don't you want to be around just in case it does?"

"I'm a monster, you know. I'm one of the dangerous ones."

"Rabbits need dignity and above all the will to accept their fate."

“I think maybe the most frustrating feeling in the world is to have something to say buy not know how to put it into words. To have lived through something but not be able to get it out of you before it festers.” 

Also The Darkest Minds playlist is totally awesome. I've had it on repeat for weeks!