"The Darkest Minds" by Alexandra Bracken is a wonderfully complex science fiction novel. At some point in the future, the youth of American are struck with a horrible disease. The outcome is either death or the development of an extrasensory power. America takes swift action as this deadly disease sweeps the nation. Unfortunately, it isn't the death toll that is the true tragedy; it is the treatment of those who survive.
The novel explores the futures of a handful of those youth: Ruby who is taken to a "rehabilitation" camp and lives there for six long years, Liam who masterminds a breakout at a less secure facility, Chubs who would have been destined for greatness had the epidemic not occurred and Suzume who at the tender age of 11 tragically became mute as she struggled to face a future as a freak on the run.
The plot is full of twists and turns. The book remains a page turner right to the very last page. I don't know if it is intended to be the first book of a series, but I do know that I'd love to read more and find out what happens next! At the same time, there was enough conclusion to make it a satisfactory standalone story.
Characterization was both a strength and a weakness. Some of the characters, particularly Ruby, Liam and Chubs are very well developed and three dimensional. Others leave me wondering if I really know them at all. Of course, if it is a series there may be more to come to fill me in on the missing pieces. I haven't even begun to think of themes. This is a plot intense story, and I think the themes may bubble up as I ponder plot elements in the next few days.
This dystopian science fiction book does portray some characters as quite evil. Again, I think additional novels in the series might create more realistic characterizations. It is odd to think that some modern articles might paint stories several volume works right from the beginning. I am not opposed to it, but as a writer myself, I have always heard that you should never pitch a first novel as part of a series, and I wonder if the publishing world is moving in a new direction.