Have you ever slogged through a book that you really didn’t care about just because you still had to see what happened in the end? This is where I am right now. The bad thing is that this was one of those YA trilogies and this is just the second book and I’ve already purchased the third book.
On our flight back from Aruba, I found the movie “The Darkest Minds”. Not a great movie but the characters were sort of interesting and it was a dystopian future and I like to think about what life would be like in such futures. Plus, as it was an adaptation of the first book of the trilogy, they didn’t finish the story so you are left wondering what was going to happen.
The books actually date from several years ago – guess the movie adaptation took a bit of time. This was the peak time for YA dystopian future trilogies after the success of the Hunger Games and spawned things like Divergent. It seems that the genre has moved on to fantasy realms probably because they’ve run out of creative ways to take down the USA.
The cliff notes version is that some disease has infected all the kids in the US. It kills off most of them and the ones who survive have mutated so they have special powers. They sort the powers by colors from lowest risk (Greens who are just super smart) to Reds (who have pyrokinesis). For “safety” reasons, the government rounds up all the surviving kids and puts them in camps lying to people that they are treatment centers.
Our heroine is an “Orange” with mind control abilities and the government basically kills any kid identified as an Orange because they are too dangerous. She tricks them into believing she’s a Green and survives until a rebel group breaks her out to use as part of an army of kids they are forming to overthrow the government. Without children, the economy has collapsed and the rest of the world has isolated us because they don’t want the disease to spread.
There’s more but I’m going way beyond the cliff notes version. The first book wasn’t bad. To be honest, I liked the movie adaptation better. I wonder if there is something to that. If you read the book first, are you less likely to prefer the movie? Don’t know but they made some subtle changes to the book for the movie and those were actually good changes.
I ended up reading reviews on Goodreads which I’ve decided is highly unreliable. I know fiction is like other art forms and what you like or don’t like is personal. But it just felt like most of these reviews were written by totally blind fanboys and fangirls who were going to like it no matter what.
So many of them described the main character as a “bad ass” and how’s she’s stronger and so on. Girl power and all that. I’m wondering what book they actually read. I’m not yet finished but the story basically goes like this: (1) Ruby stupidly walks into a trap, (2) Ruby gets hit over the head/captured in some way, (3) Things look bleak until she uses her mind control power to do something bad to the villain of the day, (4) she spends the next part of the story crying about what a monster she’s become and the gang continues their endless journey until the next trap. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Have you ever read a book where you don’t care about any of the characters? In one way, I suppose there is some accuracy because these are kids with powers they don’t understand who’ve been locked up in camps and/or hunted by the government and bounty hunters. Naturally, there’s going to be a lot of damage. But these kids are stupid. They just blindly walk into one bad situation after another. And you know its a trilogy so the main character is going to survive so you know they are going to get out but the author wastes so many pages describing the scenarios before finally having Ruby unleash her powers to save the day.
The characters in the first book were a little more interesting. One doesn’t appear in this book (one of the adventures is them looking for her). The other two are back but just seem more annoying than I remembered. And they’ve introduced other characters who are just boring. There’s the naive kid who just wants the world to go back to some version that he doesn’t really remember. He whines and cries a lot almost to the point where I hope something bad does happen to him. Then, we’ve got the stereotypical “angry at the world” one who’s mad about all that has happened and is sarcastic and short with everyone. Don’t care about her and her problems either.
And I’m not kidding about Ruby getting hit on the head a lot. It seems like every action sequence includes her smacking her head on something. Guess the author just liked writing that stuff but she’d certainly have a concussion by now.
Oh, and there is one protagonist who is the classic “bad kid” who has the same powers as our hero Ruby but uses them for evil purposes. He’s boring as well. Don’t know if they’ll have some kind of stand off later or if they’ll throw some twist in to rehabilitate his character. There are hints of that because he was one of the first kids to get the virus and survive so the government experimented on him. He’s not bad – he was just made that way.
But, as much as I hate this and as boring as it is and as little as I actually care about any of the characters, I’m still slogging through it. Why? Guess having invested so much time in it already, I just need to see what happens. I dread the third book though.
Well that’s a lot of rambling. See, that’s probably not a review that they’d want on Goodreads. Besides I don’t “ship” anyone which is what half of the reviews like to talk about.
While I’m on the subject of mindless entertainment, we were watching a bit of a show on the Food Network called the Worst Bakers in America. Now, I don’t know where they found these people but they proudly own their lack of skills. Guess that’s a prerequisite for being on the show. But then I started thinking about this because they eliminate the worst baker at the end of each episode. Shouldn’t they be eliminating the best if they want to find the worst?
I guess it is supposed to be that you can take someone with no skills and they’ll eventually learn enough to make passable stuff. Not really sure what the point is though. Are we supposed to root for these people or feel sorry when someone is sent home. I mean they weren’t good to begin with and it shouldn’t be a shock that some of them don’t really get any better. Not really sure I understand the point.
PS – I forgot one of my main complaints about this book (maybe this is why I shouldn’t just randomly start typing) and that is that the “Greens” are basically useless. I know they don’t have fancy super powers but it seems like if you’ve got a bunch of super smart kids then they could at least do a little more than they do. Maybe they could come up with plans that wouldn’t involve walking into obvious traps.