Sunday, November 3, 2013

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Summary (from Goodreads):
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?
So, The Darkest Minds was in my top ten list of 2012. It shocked me, moved me, and kept me reading way late into the night. I had high expectations going into this sequel. That, and well, Ruby had a thing or two to answer for and I absolutely needed to see if the memory swiping thing lasted.
Any way, I was not disappointed. Like the first book, this story was not an easy one to swallow. Thankfully, all the child concentration camp scenes were done. However, we are still left with child soldiers of sorts, plenty of super kid animosity, organizations out to blow up all of the surviving children, and powerful children themselves who have no knowledge on how to master their abilities or even how to use them for good.
Things start right in the middle of the action, with Ruby on a secret agent type mission with a new crew of powerful kids/allies. And it’s clear from the beginning that the adults on her mission hate her and her fellow super kids. Actually some of the adults are working on secretly killing the kids on the missions. And the missions are put forth by the Children’s League (a league that supposedly rescues kids from the camps), but as we all know from book 1, also doesn’t rescue a lot of kids from the camps. And well, Liam hated them.
Ruby doesn’t know where Liam is; she thinks she saved his life by sacrificing her own for the league. But she soon realizes, that she might have messed up his life even more. She’s friends with Liam’s brother, who’s a bit of a hothead. And while I grew to love her new team of powerful child misfits, I really missed her old team. Some of the old team (including Liam!) make a comeback, but some friends aren’t in this book at all –please let them be in book 3…
Ruby has a lot of inner conundrums to figure out. For starters, is finding information about the child-killing disease worth seeing her ex (who’s memories she’s swiped)? Also, how can she explain herself to her old friends when they all hate the League? And what should she really do with the information on the flash drive when she finds it? And above all, is there anything or anyone more important to her than her ultimate goal of destroying all the camps?
Of course on top of all the mental dilemmas, there’s the physical ones: sickness, torture, gun shots, escaping, bombs going off, reunions with old enemies, cold, starvation, and a whole world out to get you for the blood money.  There’s a little bit of romance. There’s a lot of action. And more than enough tough decisions. Ruby still kind of hates herself, and sees herself as a ticking time bomb, which makes learning to control her powers that much harder.
Bracken is excellent with her characters, her action sequences, her fast pacing, and her ideas. I’ve never quite read anything like this. This book pulled at my heart, kept me up late reading, and had my attention focused until the very last page. It didn’t have the same amount of disgusted shock as book 1, but I was blown away by how it kept me interested any way. I highly recommend both books to reluctant readers, to dystopia fans, to suspense/action fans, and to anyone looking for a great YA story. I give it a 10/10.

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