The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
"When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living."- summary from Amazon
I really enjoyed this book and, while I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, I'm glad I did, only because it was nice to read the first two books back-to-back. There isn't a cliffhanger at the end of The Darkest Minds or anything but it was just good to be able to continue the story.
The summary gives away most of the book- the characters don't arrive at East River until around page 300, so that section isn't as long as I had originally thought it would be. Bracken takes her time to lay out the world and fill out these characters rather than get them anywhere in a hurry. The book can occasionally feel overly long at times, but for the most part, I don't feel like I just read 1,000 pages of these characters (both TDM and Never Fade are about 500 pages each). The pages flew by and I really liked spending time with Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu. Despite the dystopia setting, there's still plenty of humor throughout the book, which really helped. There's also a very nice, simmering romance going on between Ruby and Liam, though something happens at the end that I did not like but the sequel made up for it.
Overall, a fascinating concept executed really well with plenty of twists and turns, and a great start to a trilogy. Highly recommended! It makes me want to go dig out my copy of Brightly Woven and finally read it!
FTC: Received signed ARC at BEA 2012. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.