By the time Ruby was ten, boy, it would be tremendously hard to think up a worse way to live. She's lost everything; all of the friends she's ever grown up with in her neighbourhood or classes are dead, because of a virus that has wiped out almost every kid between around 8 and 15. And those that have survived aren't much better off. Abilities, and very sinister ones at that, appear to have taken the forms of the survivors of the epidemic, and as a result, the government has closed off America from the rest of the world and placed these children in so-called evaluation camps, where every class had their genders separated, and every kid, based on their ability, is colour coded, with all colours of the rainbow except purple. Yellows, Greens and Blues soon end up the only ones left, because all the Reds and Oranges are taken away. The thing is, Ruby is pretty sure she's one of the dangerous ones. Actually, as the years pass by in this concentration camp (because an internment camp is where people who have been convicted of doing something wrong go) Ruby begins to lose hope on anything ever going right - until it does with some outside help - and with her newfound freedom, something she waited years for knowing the last time it happened she had one chance and didn't take it, she's nibbling off her fingers trying to find what will earn her life back. Or if there's a new and even more dangerous one all ready for her.
The reason I haven't been on Weldon Witness for almost three weeks is not because I was reading this book. Okay, that's partially it, and it took me a long time to read, but unlike Wayfarer, this time it was because I had schoolwork that seriously got in the way. And the 488-paged adventure feels even kind of appropriate, because even if this book has a ton of YA tropes that were fresh in 2012 but not as much in 2018, we can look past it because it's trying harder to give the full cookie batch than some of its other shelfmates.
The book doesn't waste its time on a road trip that is filled with cliffhanger chapters that rip you off. There's one chapter near the end that does psyche you out, but it's put in for a bit of humour that is not at the expense of the reader. It's even pretty shocking and makes you think about what the rest of the book would've been like if it went that way.
The superpowers are I think utilized just right. It was suitable enough for Ruby to not like these powers and not want to use them, because, trust me, it's separated her from her family in way more ways than one. There's an unforgettable flashback halfway through the book that doesn't hold back on its cruelty. And yet Ruby uses these powers enough times for us to enjoy reading about it but sometimes she can't get them to work, aiding the theory of nobody being perfect. And even if the romance is predictable, I somehow liked the main girl and her love interest together. Maybe the extra time they spent together helped it, like Ruby's friendship with Chubs, a borderline cynical character. Her love interest explains that if you give time, Chubs will end up being a friend willing to take a bullet and be completely devoted. We don't believe it at first. That's what progress is all about.
The bad stuff I might as well get out of the way. Near the beginning is a type of escape scene, and I couldn't help but wish it had been less easy and less irrelevant to what Ruby was going through. At the very least, she realizes the situation she's in and ends up worried as ever about her recapture and what the heck has been happening. And there are a few moments where the book noticeably slows down, and not everything we want these characters to accomplish is done so, and I guess that's life. But combine that with the fact this was much easier to read than Juliet Immortal despite being 200 pages longer and some clever ways to tell its story and a haunting past story we weren't able to read about but hear about in all its gloomy glory, and, even if I wouldn't recommend this book for starter readers, it's not a tiresome book even though in a different author's hands there's a big chance it would've, and it's miles above Bracken's Wayfarer and Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave.
I already awarded this sentence to Virginia Bergin's duology consisting of H2O and The Storm, about a deadly virus in the water. So I guess The Darkest Minds can go into a collection alongside it instead, of the books that The 5th Wave wanted to be.