Monday, May 5, 2014

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

If you liked "The Hunger Games," "Divergent" or any other dystopian styled book, then this is the book for you. “The Darkest Minds” is set in an unidentified time sometime in the future where a virus has targeted the youth population and it either kills them or grants them abilities. 

In a sense, the book is a cross between “Divergent” and the X-Men. The kids that are granted this abilities because of the virus are then sent to camps—the public believe that they are being rehabilitated but in truth, they are worked to the brink of exhaustion (This reminded me of the concentration camps during the third Reich in Germany).

Anyways, back to the synopsis: The variety of powers are not really explained—what makes someone a Green and another a Blue? Each type of ability is assigned a color (the kids go through a process that determines their ability and danger level). Reds can set fires and are considered extremely dangerous. Oranges can read and sometimes control minds. Yellows have some sort of power over electricity. Blues are telekinetic. Finally Greens seem to have photographic memories and are really good with letters and numbers, like code-breaking and the like.

The book is not filled with any difficult language and is a pretty easy and short read. As a reader, you feel for the characters in the book—they are young, they are tortured and go through a lot way in the short amount of time they are introduced. For the Middle school level, it will be challenging but fun and in the high school setting, students will be able to read it quite easily. This book, while not tied completely with factual historical accounts, would do nicely in a unit dealing with Government or more broadly, history (i.e. Nazi Germany, the Great Depression, World War I and II, etc.). 

Many goverments have a great deal in manipulating their citizens through propaganda and the media, just like in the book. (Many of the characters in the book were children that were afraid, instead of sending them to camps to do intense labor, why not help them either control their abilities or find a cure or repressor for them?)

Pros: Fun and interesting read. I love all things that have to do with teens having super powers and this was right up my alley. The language is not as sophisticated as other books that I had to read for class and that was a great thing—the audience scope is broadened by the easy to understand language. 

Cons: there is not much explanation or context of how this virus came to be. Like, no one wonders where it came from? What makes certain people strong enough to survive it and others to die from it? What does it only affect the youth? It’s just too many questions left unanswered that left me mad at the end of the book (Maybe they explain it in the other two books?). 

Here are some of the links I found interesting:

This is a trailer for the book (its gloomy and it totally captures the atmosphere of most of the book):

This is the link for the book's website where the author has a detailed FAQ page, read it for more information on the book (it's worth the read and its truly enlightening): 

While the book does not deal with the Russian Government, there is a big influence by the media and the way it "spins" the idea of the camps to the public. This link talks about the media and how it is seen and used in Russia: 

In the book, the special youth are targeted with special white noise that is used as "crowd control." To put it into perspective, these "rioters" are as young as ten years old. This link is on way that police have used force to calm riots down:

In the book, the camps were made to contain the surviving youth that developed these abilities. Instead of helping them, as the public believed, they made them work in harsh conditions. This is a link to a picture depicted a young boy working:


1 comment:

Giovani Toledo said...

I liked the idea of tying in this book to a lesson on Nazi Germany or Russia under Stalin. The text seems to have a great deal to do with the suppression of a certain sect of the population. I wonder if this deals with the dynamics of the majority group versus the minority?