Sharon Reads: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult novel about a world in which the children and teens of the world have either died from a strange illness or developed mental powers. The adults are both scared for their children and, in some cases, of them. Ruby was only ten when her parents locked her in the garage and she was sent to a camp for the newly ‘gifted’ children. Six years later, Ruby is still struggling with her abilities, the conditions she has survived, and the idea of freedom. On the run, Ruby discovers that there are multiple faction and dangers working in the world. Much has changed since she was last outside a fence, and discovering who she can trust is more challenging than surviving in the camp ever was. Can Ruby survive on the outside, and can she protect those that help her from her uncontrolled abilities?

The Darkest Minds is a highly entertaining and engaging read. It is however, not easy emotionally. It is very highly charged.  Just for starters, they round up kids and send them to ‘rehabilitation’ camps and fear them. The world building is so well done that you could believe that the scenario could happen anywhere at any time. The fear, mob mentality, and power plays in the world are something I could honestly see playing out.

I highly recommend The Darkest Minds to young adult and adult readers. This dystopian novel has rich characters, a world to fear, and deep set conspiracies and plots that will have you looking over your shoulder long after putting it down. There are significant amounts of death, violence, and cruelty in the book- so I do not recommend it for younger or more sensitive readers. I am looking forward to reading the sequel(s) that I have been told are coming.

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Brightly Woven

Alexandra Bracken’s other book in our collection, Brightly Woven which is about sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, an unusually talented weaver, must master her mysterious power and join a young wizard in stopping an imminent war in land. I also recommend a reading this book, perhaps while waiting for sequels of either to be released.

Book Review: The City’s Son by Tom Pollock

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The City’s Son

The City’s Son by Tom Pollock is an urban fantasy novel which marks the debut of the author. The book is suitable for young adults and adults.

Beth Bradley is a rebel, and a girl great with a can of spray paint. She spend her fee time tagging the city, while her friend Pen scrawls poetry to accompany it. Beth’s father is lost in grief over his late wife, and Pen is trapped by the expectations and demands of others. After a daring evening an apparent betrayal separates the friends and sends them both out into a world born of the very essence of London. They have very different paths, and different dreams. Beth meets Urchin, the prince of the streets who opens her eyes to the layers of the world around her. The city and all of its components are alive, and there is a major battle brewing. Reach, a source of death and destruction, is trying to rise, and the city’s creature are abuzz with rumors that Urchin’s Goddess and mother might be returning to fight the final battle. But when the battle is over, who will have won and what will the final price be?

The City’s Son is a original and engaging read. Beth is a risk taker, and is so used to making her own decisions that she does no bow to the voices of those who expect her to. A prince, his people, and their expectations can not withstand her will. She is a strong girl, but still carries a vulnerability that makes her feel real. The collection of the city’s creatures were imaginative an believable. I could easily see some of those statues coming to life, of reflections in skyscrapers taking on a life of their own. The mix of imagination and absolute reality come together perfectly. I will admit to looking at light bulbs, telephone wires, and bricks in a different way since finishing the book.

I highly recommend The City’s Son to teens and adults that like urban fantasy novels that carry with it a fresh perspective of the world, and yourself. There is just as much exploration into what Beth, Pen, and others want as there is the physical world around them.  The story is unique, with a skill in building a world that exists along side our own that reminds me of Neil Gaiman and Holly Black’s work. The introduction to a society that very well could be real, but since we are so good at ignoring what we do not want to see I doubt we would ever notice it. If you are looking for something fun, adventurous, and different then this is a must read!

A version of this review was previously posted on Sharon the Librarian.